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12,000 letters to Iraq

Connie Steiert
Kathy Heicher/EnterpriseKathy Heyser, Karen Hoeger and Jan Conners were part of a group of locals who gathered and sent 12,000 holiday cards cards to troops in Iraq.
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EAGLE COUNTY ” The last box has been sealed and shipped. Inside, are the thoughts, prayers, artwork and thank yous sent from local citizens to some 12,000 soldiers. Their destination? The battlefield bases of Iraq.

This is the second year that Eagle resident Kathy Heyser has organized, produced and shipped thousands of cards to soldiers in Iraq. In what she has nicknamed “10,0000 Greetings,” the cards are now headed to five bases in Iraq.

Heyser knows the locations this year ” “hot spots” ” but, for security reasons, has chosen not to disclose them.

“It’s twice what we did last year,” she said.

It took Heyser, 73, about six months to complete this year’s batch of cards. She uses cards ” old and new ” gathered from a variety of sources, adds pictures from magazines or calendars and children’s artwork, and then inserts messages of thanks or cheering holiday wishes to lift soldiers’ spirits, she said.

Some of the cards are new, such as the ones purchased at a City Market after-Christmas sale for 90 percent off. But most are donated. Some are leftover Christmas cards, others are cards Eagle County residents have received from others, which are being recycled.

“You always have extras, odd cards you don’t know what to do with,” Heyser said.

Heyser did not work alone. She had help from some of the Eagle Public Library staff, neighbors, community members and local children. But 95 percent of the work is completed by seniors at the Golden Eagle Senior Center, where she lives. These seniors spent their lunchtimes cutting, pasting and writing wishes in the cards. The cost of the shipping is donated, anonymously, too.

Heyser and her friends’ efforts have attracted statewide attention. Heyser , her co-workers and their 10,0000 greetings were recently featured on the 4 p.m. news on Denver’s Channel 9.

Next year, she’d love to have more help -” and more personalized messages from the community. “I would like it to be more of a community effort,” she said.

If you would like to help next year’s 10,000 Greetings effort, drop off new or used cards and calendars (no personalized messages, unless they are from you to our soldiers) at the Golden Eagle Senior Center or Eagle Library.

“I’d love to get more from children ” more letters, even scribbles from preschoolers,” she said.

For more information, call Kathy Heyser at 328-5055.

This story first appeared in the Eagle Valley Enterprise.

Vail Daily, Vail, Colorado


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