“What does it take to go out and buy a box of cards? (It’s) nothing compared to what these soldiers are doing for us. It’s the least we can do at home,” says annual card campaign organizer
At Remembrance Day services across the country, we pay silent tribute to the men and women who made the ultimate sacrifice for King, Queen and country.
But if you had the chance to tell them what their service means to you, what would you say?
Well, you can express your thanks to serving members of the Canadian Armed Forces this holiday season with a simple card in a drive-up led by Aurora resident Dianne Harrison.
Now in the second half of his second decade leading the collection of thousands of cards from residents which are then distributed to Canadian military personnel stationed from coast to coast and around the world, Harrison visits schools, libraries and other gathering places. to help him reach his goal of 8,000 troop cards.
Every year, Harrison is moved by the messages that come in from everyone from freshmen to seniors, but says this year’s messages have added emotion as young people remain concerned about the illegal war in Russia in Ukraine and the impact it could have on the rest of the world.
“I’m getting notes and emails from our students making cards this year, so we’re going to have a lot of cards this year made with love and respect,” Harrison says. “I tell the children to let [the soldiers] you write to know that you care about them at home. People forget that their families give up so much with them being abroad. The cards are made with so much love and respect. We were overwhelmed and touched last year by what the children were saying. I think kids are more aware of what’s going on now and what’s going on. They know more about the world and COVID has opened their eyes.
“A family from Golf Links Drive said their children wanted to learn more about the world and Canada. Last year they got a note from the northernmost part of Canada at a post and wanted to know where it was. I think it gave the kids a good idea of geography because in many cases they have never heard of these places before.
Although the cards aren’t addressed to any particular technician, rest assured they’ll all reach the right hands – and one of the benefits of writing is that you just don’t know what kind of response you’ll get, nor from where.
Last year, an active member wrote to children in the Arctic saying, “It’s so cold here that when we received your cards, we smiled, our faces froze and our smiles lasted a good time,” Harrison recalled.
“Children know what’s going on in the world [including Ukraine]. Even our grandchildren talk about what will happen. Will there be a war? It is a concern. One of our granddaughters said, ‘Are we going to have fights and bombs here in Canada?’ and it’s from a 12 year old.
In the end, these cards are just a simple way to say “thank you” to people who put themselves in harm’s way for King, Country, Friend and Neighbor.
“People don’t have to put a stamp on it, it’s free,” says Harrison. “I encourage people to bring cards to work and have them signed by their colleagues as well. What does it take to go out and buy a box of cards? A box of cards is nothing compared to what these soldiers are doing for us. It’s the least we can do at home.
Completed cards can be placed in drop boxes located at Aurora City Hall, Aurora Public Library, Aurora Senior Center, and Aurora Family Recreation Complex. Writers can also contact Dianne Harrison and her husband Brian to arrange pickup at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Cards and letters must be received by November 28.
Brock Weir is a reporter with the federally funded Local Journalism Initiative at the Auroran