by ADAM GRUENEWALD
About five hours of shared work turned into about 1,500 messages of hope for soldiers serving the United States.
As part of a Cards for Soldiers event at Cologne Academy on Saturday, March 22, about 35 volunteers gathered to finish blank cards which will be sent to soldiers overseas so they can send them back home.
The third annual local event, coordinated by the Cologne Lions Club, is part of a nationwide effort.
It was started by Cologne Lions member Paula Stephens who was involved in Scrapping for Soldiers, a Prior Lake group started by Julie Berg, whose son, Matt, has since enlisted.
“We decided to start this and a local project here,” she said, adding the group completed 1,000 cards in 2012 and 1,500 last year.
In addition to the work put in by volunteers on Saturday, 2014 coordinator Lynda Mellgren said about 15 different kinds of cards, including birthday and thank you cards, were prepared ahead of time.
“When their kids or nieces or nephews have birthdays they can send them,” she said. “We provide them cards so they can send them to their families because a lot of them don’t have access to cards all the time.”
In addition to finalizing cards, volunteers packaged cards with envelopes as well as information about Cologne.
Cards are then sent to soldiers overseas through Soldier’s Angels, a nonprofit organization that provides aid and comfort to the men and women of the United States Army, Marines, Navy, Air Force, Coast Guard, and their families and to improve the lives of a growing veteran population.
Founded in 2003 by the mother of two American soldiers with the motto “May No Soldier Go Unloved,” Soldier’s Angels has, among several efforts, sent hundreds of thousands of care packages and letters to deployed service members as well as 25,000 first response backpacks and provided care and comfort to those in stateside military and VA facilities.
On Saturday, local volunteers came from Cologne Lions, Mayer-Watertown Dandelions and NYA West Carver Lions as well as other groups from Waconia, Carver and the area as well as grandparents of soldiers serving overseas.
“They financially support it and they’re the one’s calling us and seeing when we are doing that,” said Stephens of the assisting groups. “It’s nice to have that. The hope is to get the community together and getting so many clubs involved is wonderful.”
In addition to volunteers, Stephens added several different people donate supplies.
“It’s a light, fun project that people like to come and do,” she said. “People are giving back and you don’t need any crafting experience. You can enjoy each other’s company and have a fun morning.”
The Cologne Leos also helped out, finalizing cards and serving lunch.
For more information, visit www.colognelions.com, www.scrappingforsoldiers.com or www.soldiersangels.org.
Contact Adam Gruenewald at [email protected]