Friday, September 4, 2009

Card themes—what's needed most?

As our shippers assemble each box of cards and choose the themes—and decide how many of each kind—they try to assemble a collection that will be used in a reasonably short time period. They may have seriously limited storage space in their bunk area, or be redeployed and unable to cart along cards that haven't yet been used.

Our goal is to provide a selection that will be snapped up by everyone in the unit pretty quickly; So we don't send several holidays-worth ahead of time—we send another box closer to the actual date, so our contacts don't have to store anything.

Feedback we get regularly from service members tells us we're achieving that goal; often the cards disappear in a matter of hours, sometimes days, and on rare occasion they're so treasured that individuals pick out cards to get them through the next month or two of their own occasions!


General cards work well

General cards—both masculine and feminine designs—are most adaptable to any occasion; they are perfect for a hello or can be sent for get well, sympathy, weddings, anniversaries, babies, or lots of other letter-writing reasons. These can have sentiments like "thinking of you," "my friend," "hello," or a poem, or no sentiment at all. The largest percentage of most of the boxes we send (with the exception of the Christmas holidays) are general cards.

Love or Miss You cards

These are often requested by our heroes, and we don't get nearly as many Miss You cards as we could send. Half our service members are married, and the other half likely has someone at home holding onto a piece of their heart. Think about how perfectly a "missing you" message fits what they want to tell their loved ones!

 

Birthday

Another theme we get a requests for are birthday themes. It's great to pack up a selection of birthday card styles for whatever type of person that the hero's unit is writing home to—masculine, feminine, adult, child, funny, or serious. Some cardmakers use the sentiment "celebrate" and make it a cheery card without cake or gift boxes—and those can be used for both birthdays and other occasions to celebrate with a card (like graduations, promotions, etc). We can always use more birthday cards than we currently get that are appropriate for children; around half the service members have kids at home!

Holidays

We start getting extra requests for cards as particular holidays approach, so you're welcome to keep these in mind as the primary ones we serve up to our heroes:
  1. Valentine's Day
  2. Easter
  3. St Patrick's Day
  4. Mother's Day
  5. Father's Day
  6. Independence Day
  7. Halloween
  8. Thanksgiving
  9. Christmas (longer lead time due to heavy mail traffic)
We store cards for future holidays if deadlines have passed or if they arrive at other times of year as people clear out their own stash of cards. 

Less-common themes


You may have noticed we don't ask specifically for certain less-common card themes like weddings, sympathy, get well, congratulations, or new babies. It's not that we won't send them or don't need any; we do get some of each and that's fine—we do want to put a few into each box. But if we put 20 sympathy or wedding cards into a package, most of those may end up waiting a long time for those occasions to arrive that many times for one unit of heroes. For a small group, the likelihood of them knowing 20 people getting married right away is quite small! We trust that, if we only include one or two wedding cards and they need an extra, they can use a blank or thinking of you card for that extra occasion.

Themes to avoid

We do ask that you avoid some of the REALLY rare sentiment cards, like "Welcome to the neighborhood," "Happy Father's Day Cousin," or "Congrats on your new kitten." There are some occasions that it's nearly impossible to imagine someone needing to send a card for from the sands of the Middle East. We don't send those to our heroes, but we try to find another group to donate them to, or put them in our summer garage sales to raise funds for OWH.

2 comments:

Seongsook Duncan said...

Very touching what you wrote:

. Think about how perfectly a "missing you" message fits what they want to tell their loved ones!

. We can always use more birthday cards than we currently get that are appropriate for children; around half the service members have kids at home!

Will keep that in mind. Thanks.

Shayla said...

DARN...I really had my heart set on the "Congrats on the New Kitten" card...I guess I'll hold off on that one


I love the idea, I'm considering making a bunch of cheesy I love you cards :)