Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Newbie Q&A

A number of our newer cardmakers have been asking some common questions that we'd love to answer...these are things that are often answered elsewhere, but gathering them together might help.

Where do I send my cards? The Mailroom has a blinking arrow right overtop the addresses.

Do I send envelopes? You may send them, but you can also send cards without. The pros and cons are for you to weigh: sending envelopes costs you a little more, but saves our shippers loads of work if the cards are already tucked properly.....not sending envelopes may mean you'll get more cards into a box, which is great, and just means extra labor for our shippers; most people include a donation toward envelopes and shipping. We're okay with whichever you choose.
What could put my cards in the hospital? There are a few, and remember - none is a cardinal sin. Our shippers each have a "Card Hospital" where cards in need of help rest til the shipper has time for triage.
  • Glitter. Not permitted! It makes a mess on our heroes' uniforms and makes them visible to night-vision goggles. So please please please, leave your glitter for your own cards, and watch out that your box doesn't get sprinkled by your mom's birthday card nearby. 
  • Dark card bases without liners. Our heroes have no white pens, so we really need to be sure that even a pencil will show up. If in doubt, add a liner! (Dixie asked Soldier Sam and he said there are no gel pens in Iraq!)
  • Cards not marked on the back. We add "Operation Write Home" to the backs of each card ("OWH" isn't enough since we need families to google the name to find us!). This can take our shippers hours to do in the quantities we receive cards.  
  • Orphan embellishments. Buttons, ribbons, alphabet stickers, papers, and other pieces that aren't glued down well can fall off and need to be reattached...we regularly find bits of cards lying around and have no idea where they came from! Remember, OWH cards won't be treated with kid gloves, so be sure they're stable. Many times they come off because of gluesticks or cheap tape runners that let go; other times, it's because of using too little adhesive.  
  • "Sneeze." Imagine, if you will, unrelated stickers, foamies, or stamps scattered randomly on a piece of cardstock. Often these kinds of cards are done by children and are just fine (please have the kids write their names on the back and write a note inside! Our heroes LOVE mail from kids). But many times we get hundreds of cards at a time that clearly put quantity above quality - these cards end up in the hospital to have some ribbon, patterned paper, or embellishments added. We know that the cards that show attention to detail are selected quickly, and we fix them up so our heroes don't leave these for last in the bottom of a box!  (Note! Simple cards are fine — in fact they often help us get more in a box because they're not half an inch thick! We're talking about randomly scattered elements on these.)
  • Inappropriate themes. Remember that our heroes are grown adults sending cards home; so anything with a sentiment for "daddy" from a child is not appropriate. Nor is "our new home," "wish you were here," or "we're pregnant." We occasionally get skull and crossbones on cards, especially toward Halloween - and we ask that you avoid death imagery. 
Special note: A thick embellishment that's held on by a glue dot seems to have a tendency to grab onto another card (a corner slips between the embellishment and cardstock), and starts yanking at whatever paper it comes in contact with. These kinds of embellishments have been known to destroy a card next to itself. Please be sparing with thick embellishments, since they have a really hard time surviving the postal system anyway; and make certain that adhesive is completely beneath your button or ribbon and none sticks out. Cards that just have ONE thick embellishment (particular offender: a single button) seem to cause this problem more often than cards that have a more even distribution of thickness.

Do you need more shippers? At this time, no; when we've had more shippers in the past, we've not been able to assemble boxes fast enough to meet our heroes' needs. Themes got divided so one didn't have any birthday, or another was out of a holiday, etc. Three seems to work fairly well right now.

This info has been merged into the "About OWH" page for newbies too....hopefully it helps!


Tricia T said...

This was really helpful! Thank you!!

Anonymous said...

This was very helpful. Especially about the envelopes. Thanks so much. Can't wait to get started.