Local News

December 24, 2011

‘God bless you’

Thanking the military at Christmas

Theresa Payne sent some 2,000 Christmas cards this year, and she made sure that she sent a  personal message with each one.

“I tried to make each one different. I wanted each one to be special. Most of the time I wrote ‘God bless you,’ and if the card didn’t say Merry Christmas I wrote ‘Merry Christmas,’” she said.

Payne, who lives in Cohutta, said she wanted to make sure that each card was special because they were going to some very special people: soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines recuperating from war wounds and other injuries and illnesses at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, D.C.

“On the envelopes, I’d address to ‘An American Hero’ or ‘An American Soldier’ or ‘A Wonderful American’ or something like that,” she said.

It took Payne almost a year to put all of the cards together.

“I started shopping for cards just after Christmas, when they discounted them and put them on sale. I must have went to every store between here and Rossville. I went to Ringgold and Fort Oglethorpe. I bought several boxes. I didn’t get to finish them all,” she said. “I also bought all the Santa hats and Christmas stockings I could find, and I sent 170 hats and 250 Christmas stockings.”

Payne said she worked on the cards while watching television.

“I’d just sit there and write. My husband had a lot of surgery this year, so I’d start and stop and start,” she said. “I got carpal tunnel in my wrist, and towards the end I wasn’t able to write down everything. I had to print some of them. But I made sure to sign my name to each one. I wanted some personal touch.”

But she still didn’t know how she’d get all the cards to Walter Reed by Christmas. That’s when a friend in the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) put her in touch with an American Legion post in Alpharetta that sends many packages to troops overseas and in military hospitals.

“They were just really super. When I called and explained my dilemma, they were so eager to help,” she said. “My son lives in Ball Ground. We were going down there, and Alpharetta isn’t too far, so we just loaded them up and took them down there last Sunday.”

Payne says she did something similar on a smaller scale in 2010.

Why was it so important to her to honor the men and women in Walter Reed?

“It’s my responsibility to thank them for what they have done for us. It’s everybody’s responsibility to thank them,” she said. “My husband was in the Army when he got out of high school, and he was stationed in Germany for a couple of years. For years, whenever we see a soldier we make a point to thank them. I always try to hug them.”

Payne says she has already started writing cards for next year.

“I didn’t get all of them finished. I don’t know that I’ll be able to write another 2,000. I might have to print them, but I feel like that if I print something unique and sign my name they’ll know that put some heart into it,” she said.

Payne says she hopes others will join her in this effort and send their own cards.

“It shows that someone is thinking of them, that someone appreciates them and that someone loves them and whatever sacrifice they made was worth it,” she said.

Payne said that if others are interested in helping out, she will coordinate the effort, make sure that the cards get to Walter Reed and even bring cards to those who can’t afford them to sign.

If you are interested in helping out with “Christmas Greetings from Dalton,” call Payne at (706) 694-4128.

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