Friday, July 30, 2010

Tip: Halloween Cards for OWH

Just realized we hadn't reiterated this tip this halloween season...and this little card from Elaine came in and was so inspiring, that it's a perfect example to share! Isn't it sweet? Love it!

The tip: We encourage you to stay away from "death" and "skulls and crossbones" for your halloween cards. Happy little ghosties and skeletons are fine, and there are even some silly skulls (add some wiggly eyes and you can cheer up just about anything!)...... but some of the stamps and papers out there can be pretty gloomy....and while our heroes may love all the spooky side of the holiday, and their families as well, we would still like to stay on the 'happy' side of halloween. Why? Well, if something unfortunately happened to one of our heroes, and a gloomy card was the final communication between them and their family—you get the idea? We want to help that be a positive memory for all concerned! Thanks for your help!

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Thankful Thursday: July 29, 2010

Welcome to this Thankful Thursday...hope you have plenty to be grateful for! We have so many cardmakers we're so appreciative of're all amazing! This week: 7373 cards came in! This pile pictured is just a sampling of the recycle pile—two weeks worth of packages!

We also ordered more A2 envelopes this week - 20,000 of them! (Check this post if you want a sense of scale, to see just how big a stack would be!) There are positives and negatives to that's a plus because it means cardmakers can send in cards without envelopes; for some of you that's a huge help in this tight economy. However, for our shippers, it's a scary thing to think about just how many hours of tucking are involved with that many envelopes, especially with the volume of holiday shipping coming our way.

Consider the envelope math:
If it takes 10 seconds to remove a card from a box, turn it over, stamp it, tuck the back into the envelope, fold the flap back, and put it in a sorted pile - then 10sec x 20,000 envelopes = 200,000 seconds. Divide that by 60 and you'll get 3,333 minutes. Divide that by 60, and that box of 20,000 envelopes represents 55 hours of labor. Just labor associated with those envelopes alone. That's on top of the other duties a shipper performs:
Triage (glitter, unlined dark cards, things falling apart, dealing with oversized cards)
Untucking unstamped cards, removing plastic sleeves
Reporting each and every donation from information on the packing slip
Emailing every donor to notify them the cards arrived
Counting cards that came in a package with no packing slip
Packing up the boxes - customs forms, letter to the hero, sorting and reading AnyHero mail
And considering we place an order this large every couple months or more, you get a little idea of why we ask for your help in packaging up your cards to be the most help for our shippers! The biggest assistance you can provide is making sure your cards have Operation Write Home on the back—that alone makes our lives a lot easier! And when a box arrives stamped, tucked, and sorted by type....well that's like Christmas morning to our shippers :) Thanks for all you do to help!

And now without further ado...thank you to this week's cardmakers and financial donors!
  1.  Mary Jane R, Collinsville IL, thank you for your generous donation!
  2. Victoria L, Cullowhee NC - you did it again, so many darling cards for kids! Thank you.
  3. Rosalie R, Macomb MI.....Fabulous!! Thanks so much!
  4. Shirley F, Defiance MO.....what a wonderful package of gorgeous cards! Thanks!
  5. Janis D, Olustee OK......WOW! Fabulous your style.
  6. Thank you, Amber M. of Midland, MI!! Awesome cards! Generous donation! Love your designs!!
  7. Thank you Bill and Kim P. of Lakewood, OH for this nice collection of cards and generous donation for shipping! Awesome!
  8. Thanks, Angie G and Denise T of Greenbelt, MD for these awesome cards and generous donation! Thanks for sending such a nice variety of sentiments!
  9. Thank you, Dona V. and Sherry M. of Millersburg, OH!! Awesome cards! Love the fish and the Halloween cards! Awesome!
  10. Thank you Jill B. of Hamburg, PA for the awesome cards and the generous donation! Our heroes will love these!
  11. Janis P, Huntington Beach CA - I can't believe these pretty cards were made by all those kids! Please tell them they did an amazing job!
  12. Thank you Melissa G., Kristen R., Michelle R., and Tammy R. of United Health Care in Hartford, CT for the huge box of cards for our heroes! Awesome job ladies!
  13. Janice A, Bountiful UT, thanks so much for your pretty cards, and your awesome donation! You made my day :)
  14. SuzAnn H, Salt Lake City UT - thanks so much, your cards are adorable!
  15. Dee M, Puyallup WA - wow on all your great cards! Thanks for using your talents for our heroes :)
  16. Another BIG thank you to the ladies who make such beautiful cards and drop them off at Stamper's Alley in Mooresville, NC!!
  17. Thank you Pat Q of Bethel Park, PA! Another box of awesome cards for our heroes! Just beautiful!
  18. Thank you Diane V of Manchester, TN for these terrific works of art for our troops! Great Christmas cards!!
  19. Sheila G, Puyallup WA - your cricut cards are just PRECIOUS! We so need a tutorial from you :) Thanks for the donation too!!!
  20. Marcia M, Cedar Hill MO.....thanks for another package of wonderful cards!
  21. Thank you Paula P. of Bellvue, OH for these yummy cards for our heroes! Great use of fruit on cards!!!
  22. Thank you Meredtith T. of Zephyrhills, FL!! Awesome cards and Hero Mail! LOVE these yummy cupcake cards!
  23. Thanks, Martha C. of Zephyrhills, FL for the cards and the Hero Mail! I love the clever "Back to School" cards!
  24. Melanie L, Everet WA, thanks so much for this great package of cards - they're beautiful!
  25. Melinda B and friends, Tulare CA -- thanks so much for your great package of cards...our heroes will love them!
  26. Thank you Jane P. of Ballston SPA, NY!! What pretty cards you sent! LOVE the birds!
  27. Becky and Marilea, Elk Grove CA - your mojo hasn't disappeared, it's right back on track! Lovely cards as always!
  28. Anne and everyone at Venture in RV Resort Crafters, Show Low AZ...thanks so much, these cards are all fantastic! The AnyHero cards are going to be such a treat - and your donation is a blessing!
  29. Carol P, Peoria AZ, I love your cards, and our heroes will too! Thanks so much for the donation and AnyHero love too! :)
  30. Denise L, Arroyo Grande CA, your cards are just so pretty, thank you so much!
  31. Thank you Laurie W. of Evans, GA for another collection of beautiful cards! Our heroes will love these! Awesome!
  32. Thank you Tawnya B. of Middletown, OH for the gorgeous cards and the more than generous donation! You rock!!!
  33. Thank you to the Preceptor Delta Tau Chapter of Beta Sigma Phi Sorority in Bradenton, FL!! What a terrific collection of cards!
  34. Thank you Carolynn W. of South Stafford, VT for the cards and the donation! So many cute designs! Well done!
  35. Many thanks Wendy L of Circleville, OH for the cards and donation! LOVE seeing the snowmen in July! Awesome!
  36. Thank you Lori R of Springfield, VA for these terrific cards! Your cards for kids are AWESOME!!
  37. Thank you Elizabeth S. of New Canaan, CT! These "Back to School" cards are awesome. There's something for every age!
  38. Debby P, Buffalo MO - thank you for your monthly donations - you're wonderful!
  39. Sue K, Tucson AZ, this box is just chock full of beautiful creations, thank you so much!
  40. Kate M, Bossier City LA - wowsers!! So many beautiful cards and AnyHero cards...and such a generous donation!! Thank you!!
  41. Thank you Lynn P. of Charlotte, NC for the large collection of cards for our heroes. Love the "Have a ball on your birthday" cards!
  42. Thank you Amy P. of Harrisburg, NC!! Awesome cards for our heroes! Clever designs!
  43. Many thanks, Dawn for the super collection of cards! So many for children! Awesome! Thanks too for the generous shipping donation!
  44. Thank you Danyse K of Charlotte, NC for the cards as well as the pens and bookmarks for the troops! Also thanks to the VBS of the 1st Christian Church D.O.C. for all the Hero Mail! Awesome!!
  45. T.D, Rexburg ID - thanks so very much for your encouraging AnyHero cards!!
  46. Betty T, Salina KS - love these cards! Kris was right :)
  47. Elaine T, Lake Stevens WA - such pretty cards, WOW! Love your stitched kitty for halloween. Great job!!
  48. Susan S, Santa Ana CA - I love your crafty style! And I know our heroes will to. Thanks so much!
  49. Alice C, Gardners PA - thanks for the great cards...and all the goodies!!
  50. Debbie and the Peace Lutheran Church cardmakers - wow, you did some beautiful work! Thanks for the cards - and the generous donation!
  51. Many thanks, Nancy F. of Trexlertown, PA for these gorgeous cards! Thank you too for the donation and hero mail. Awesome
  52. Thank you Mary F. of Pasadena, MD!! Beautiful cards! I really needed these anniversary cards! Thanks too for the donation for shipping!
  53. Thank you Wendy S. of Raleigh, NC for the cards, hero mail, and generous donation! Terrific designs!
  54. Thank you Larie M. of Live Oak, FL! What an awesome collection of cards for our heroes! Well done!
  55. Thank you Michelle F. of Niles, OH! Awesome cards! Love the "Cool Beans" card!
  56. Thank you Mary C. of Virginia Beach, VA!! Lots of pretty cards! Thanks too for the generous donation!
  57. Thanks Dolores A. of Frederick, MD for "owl" you do for our heroes! Awesome cards!
  58. Thanks to the Lambda Psi Delta Sorority, Inc and Isabel V. of Union City, NJ for the cards!
  59. Thank you Rhonda Sof Danville, KY for the cards and the Hero Mail! Awesome!
  60. Stephanie W, Magnolia TX.....thanks for these beautiful cards...just the themes I was needing.
  61. Lisa P, N Kingstown RI......thanks for these beautiful cards! Love them!
  62. Roberta O, Lafayette IN.....another awesome package of cards! Thanks!
  63. Barb K, Escanaba MI......these are beautiful! Thanks so much for sending them in.
  64. Kristen H, Palatine IL....thanks for these awesome cards!
  65. Melisa T, Atoka TN......a wonderful package of grea cards! Thank you.
  66. Judy B, Cleburne TX.....another box of fabulous cards! Thanks so much.
  67. Marcia M and friends, Cedar Hill MO.....thanks for these two wonderful boxes of cards!!
  68. Jennifer M, Marshfield WI......FABULOUS!! Love your style...these are awesome!
  69. Shirley G, Carbondale IL.....Welcome to OWH! This was a great package of cards! Thank you.
  70. Polly P, St Paul MN......LOL, I just love your cards!!! Thanks!!
  71. Phyllis G, St Paul MN......thank you for these very pretty cards!!
  72. Toni B, Lincoln NE......WOW! Three large wonderful boxes of cards! You sure have been busy....thanks!
  73. Melanie G and Dianne B, Pocatello ID - fannnnntastic cards, thank you so much! Your donation is a real blessing :)

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Prospect Heights gives OWH a shoutout!

Does your local tv do a 'good news shoutout' type of feature? Check out this short you warm fuzzies, doesn't it?

Monday, July 26, 2010

Mailroom Monday: July 26, 2010

It's been another busy week for our shippers....thanks to all of you who keep them occupied stamping, tucking, sorting, and packing so they can create wonderful piles of boxes like this one! This week 5742 cards were mailed out - at a cost of $212.50!

To  heroes in Afghanistan:
350 cards to an Army unit
350 cards to an Marines unit
334 cards to an Army unit
334 cards to an Air Force unit
334 cards to an Air Force unit
334 cards to an Air Force unit
334 cards to an Army unit
334 cards to an Army unit
350 cards to an Air Force unit

To heroes in Iraq:
350 cards to an Army unit
334 cards to an Army unit
334 cards to an Army unit
334 cards to an Army unit
334 cards to an National Guard unit
334 cards to an Army unit
334 cards to an Army unit
334 cards to an Army unit

Other fun statistics:
Number of boxes sent: 1671
Number of hero contacts: 829
Total cards sent: 486,198

Deadline reminders:

Half and Half Challenge: August 14
August 2 - Back to School
September 20 - Halloween
October 1 - Thanksgiving
October 30 - Christmas
November 30 - Any Hero Christmas Letters

Current shipper needs: see here.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Half and Half Challenge...Halfway through!

In case you've missed it, our challenge through the middle of August: Half and Half! Cards are due by August 14th so we wanted to remind you the challenge is out there! We haven't been inundated with entries yet, so your chances are great at winning one of the prizes pictured here!

Quick review of the details:
Our shippers would love to get some of the holiday cards processed and packed this summer, rather than waiting til fall when they're inundated. Will you help them out?
  1. Challenge cards that arrive with the shippers before Aug 14 qualify for a prize drawing!
  2. Make your package half-holidays (halloween, thanksgiving, Christmas, etc) and half-everydays (birthday, love, miss u, thanks) cards....we need to keep shipping this summer, so we don't want those to stop!
  3. During the fall/winter, we would love for our 'regular' cardmakers to help us out with birthday, love, thank you cards to mix in with the massive numbers of Christmas cards we get, since our heroes want a selection; you can make snowman love cards, pumpkin missing you cards, etc so you can use the cool stamps and paper out for the seasons, but if you can help with some of those general themes, it will help keep our boxes moving throughout the fall and winter!

Please help us promote this challenge...only a few weeks remain! Snag the banner below for your blog or website, and link it to

Here are the prizes! Thanks to our cardmakers who have been so generous in offering up goodies to inspire each other.

If you have goodies like these to share with others, you can host a challenge on your own blog, on a forum, or wherever you'd like (post about it on Facebook and our Forum so everyone knows to go there to enter)!

Friday, July 23, 2010

Monroe, LA Cardmaking Success!

Donna from Monroe, LA. reports on two successful cardmaking events held last month:

Inspired by stories on the Homefront Blog of other successful card-making events, my friend Heather and I decided to host two events of our own. Heather knows the owners of a local winery and they agreed to host the public event there. We made up flyers and distributed them around town and through email including visits to the local National Guard HQ, a local aviation museum and local churches. They had all never heard of Operation Write Home and were very interested in how it worked and what we do. Publicity for the vineyard contacted the local morning news program about the event and they asked us to do an interview.

By the time our card-making night at the winery came around, people were talking about it all over town, with links to the event on community calendars and emails sent with the flyer to Chamber of Commerce members, but we had no idea if anyone would show up, or how many people we would have. We prepared food and supplies for 100 people. We served cheeses and crackers, individually-wrapped chocolates, small cookies, lemonade and bottled water. The vineyard also hosted a wine-tasting. We wanted to have snacks available, but didn’t want to have anything too messy to get in the way of card-making. We also had small paper crafts door prizes and held a drawing for those every half hour. We prepared card "kits" for two different birthday cards, masculine and feminine. In the kits, we had the card base and any pre-cut paper and embellishments needed to make the card. Ink, stamps and adhesive were supplied to each table. We had enough card parts to make fifty of each card. We also pre-made one hundred Any Hero cards, and pre-printed instructions for them and coloring cards for kids to write to Heroes as well. We printed pictures from the Operation Write Home website and some of the blog posts from the Hero Blog as well. We wanted people to be able to put a face and sentiment to what they were doing. The winery night event was a success! We had a good turnout with twenty-five people that had never made cards before who made eighty cards and signed thirty-two AnyHero cards in two and a half hours.

The second event we hosted was at our workplace. We spoke to one of our Vice Presidents and suggested that this would be a way to show that our company supports our troops. We set up in our training room on two days from 10 am to 2 pm, so people could come in during breaks or lunch. Again we had pre-cut kits for cards and pre-made Any Hero cards for signing. Heather and I rotated "shifts" to be available to help people, since all of them were new to card making. This resulted in seventy birthday and all-occasion cards, forty-five AnyHero cards and nine AnyHero coloring cards from kids. Now a lot more people in our local area are aware of Operation Write Home.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Thankful Thursday: July 22, 2010

Happy Thursday, everyone! Our shippers processed 7,279 cards this keep amazing us with your faithfulness to our heroes, even midsummer! Thanks for making their day every day all year long; many military support orgs focus on packages for holidays, but our OWH boxes make sure our deployed heroes know they are appreciated all year long!

The photo at right is of the mailboxes at Sandy's house. Typically only one of these has packages in it - but look! Two are FULL! And so many are starting to use our brand new packing slip - and it seems to be helping with many of the packages! It has a great checklist to help you remember the big things when you put your cards in your box - stamping/labelling the backs, tucking, size, etc. Download it and replace your previous one with this new version, and make life a little easier on yourself - and your shipper!

  1. Thank you Joy O of Carmel, IN for another super box of cards for our heroes! Love the cards with fabric! Too cute and clever!
  2. Thank you Lisa W of Lansing, MI for these cards! Love the birthday cards for kids!
  3. Thank you April W of Taylors, SC for the beautiful cards and the donation for shipping. Awesome!
  4. Thank you Lisa O, Rachel M, and David M of Millburn, NJ! Awesome cards for our military heroes to send home to their families! Well done.
  5. Thank you Meighen M of Bolivar, OH! Awesome cards! Love the cards with the birds! "Tweet!"
  6. Thank you Elaine H of Keene, NH for all the "back to school" cards! Awesome!
  7. Ruth L, Post Falls ID - your cards are so cute, thank you so much!
  8. Stephanie and Robin G, NY, thanks so much for all the holiday and assorted cards! Cute! Your donation is a huge help!
  9. Many thanks to all the stampers who donated cards at Stamper's Alley in Mooresville, NC! You ladies are a wealth of talent! Awesome cards!
  10. Thanks, Regina L of Glen Burnie, MD for the cards and generous donation! Such a beautiful variety of cards!
  11. Linda S, Denton TX.....thanks for all of these Any Hero letters! I needed them.
  12. Amber C, Centralia WA, you rock! So many AnyHero cards and lots of blank cards too....fantastic!! Thanks!
  13. Cindy M, Pewaukee WI - thanks for the half and half cards to add to our total! Your generous donation is a huge help :)
  14. SuzAnn H, Salt Lake City UT - you make such cute cards....and WOW on all these fantastic AnyHero notes, our heroes are going to love them!!
  15. Sherry U, Walnut Creek CA - beauuuutiful cards, thank you so much! The AnyHero cards and generous donation are much appreciated!
  16. Karen M, Dearborn MI - yowsa, your cards are always so cute! Thank soooo much for the half & half love!
  17. Amanda J, Idaho Falls ID - wow! Thanks for the awesome package of cards, these are wonderful!!
  18. Thank you Debbie S. and Wanda A. of Gastonia, NC!! So many lovely cards! Our heroes are going to love sending these home! Thanks too for the generous donation for shipping!
  19. Thank you, Margaret P of Oakdale, CT for these beautiful cards! Love the "Snappy Birthday" card! Too cute!
  20. Thank you Sherry H of Arlington, VA for another beautiful collection of cards! Thanks too for the hero mail and the generous donation! Clever cards!
  21. Thanks Denise D of Alexandria, LA for the beautiful greeting cards and the huge collection of hero mail! Awesome! Aloha!!
  22. Thank Jennifer M of Charlotte, NC for the huge collection of cards, hero mail, and generous donation! Love the little bear on the "Miss You" card!
  23. Helen S, San Diego CA, our heroes will love all your cards, thanks so much!
  24. Pam J, Duvall WA - thanks for all thes themes, love them all!
  25. Gina S, Taylorsville UT - thanks so much for the box of beautiful cards, our heroes will LOVE them!
  26. Ann K, Seattle WA - fantastic cards, thanks again!!
  27. Vanessa and everyone at Church of the Good Samaritan. your card party creations are absolutely beautiful! Thank you!
  28. Thank you, Donna C. of Stamford, CT for the great cards for our heroes! And thanks for the Hero Mail! The postcards are a clever idea!
  29. Many thanks to Jan R. of Akron, OH for the generous donation and the beautifully unique cards for our heroes to send home!
  30. Thank you, Sharon M. of Joplin, MO for these cute cards! Love this colorful paper!! Awesome cards for kids too!
  31. MANY thanks to the South Carolina Masons and Gail R of West Columbia, SC for the 200+ beautiful cards of appreciation and encouragement to our deployed heroes! I'm speechless!
  32. Thank you, Kris B. of Athens, GA for these beautiful cards and generous donation! Awesome job!
  33. Cindy C, Paducah KY....WOW! These are stunning!!! Thanks!
  34. Jan C, Phoenix AZ, thanks so very much, your cards are fantastic! Your donation is making a big difference, bless you :)
  35. Harriet L, Vista CA - lovely lovely cards, thank you so very much!
  36. Mariah N, Phoenix AZ....your cards are so beautiful - you clearly are starting out with lots of talent! Thanks!
  37. Rebecca W and the 5th and 6th Graders at Edu-Prize Charter School, Gilbert AZ - WOW! You are all a-mazing! Thank you so much!
  38. Cindy E and Los Gatos Elks Lodge #1857 - you've done it again, another wonderful box of cards. Thank you!
  39. Thank you Robin G. and Stephanie G. of New York, NY for the cards, the donation, and the Hero Mail! Awesome Halloween and Christmas cards! Love the spiders!
  40. Diane D, Novato CA, your cards are just beautiful, thank you - our heroes will love writing home on them! Your donation is much appreciated!
  41. Diane S, Gallatin TN.....thank you for these gorgeous cards!!
  42. Debra M, Elkhorn NE....WOW! Fabulous cards...thanks for sharing with us!
  43. Betty and Marilyn S, Columbus OH......thanks ladies for another wonderful package of cards!!
  44. Judy J, Dover PA.....thank you for these beautiful cards!
  45. Sue S, Papillion NE......another great package of cards! Thanks!!
  46. Carol C, Papillion NE.....thanks for these beautfiul cards!
  47. Deb A and Centennial Covenant Church, Centennial CO....thank you for this great box of cards. Much appreciated!
  48. Sara G, Montgomery TX.....what a wonderful package of cards! Love them!
  49. Susan T, Cypress TX.....LOVE THESE!!! The robot image is too cute! Thanks.
  50. Marisa G, West Chicago IL.....WOW!! Awesome cards...thank you!
  51. Thank you Marianne K of Harrisburg, NC for the cards and the donation!! I enjoyed crafting with you at the LSS!!
  52. Sheila S and everyone at your cards! Hope work slows down so you get more time to get creative. Thanks for your support!
  53. Ida V, Windsor Ontario, thanks for all the love for our heroes from's appreciated!!
  54. Lina W, Hampton VA - you just keep making more and more great cards...I know our heroes love them!
  55. Frances E and friends at the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, Healdsburg CA....thakn you so much, your cards are wonderful!
  56. Barbara A, Tucson AZ, your cards are so very pretty - thank you so much! Thanks for the donation as well :)
  57. Laurel G and Scrap Attack Scrapbooking - oh MY! What a box full of beauties, thank you!
  58. Lindy C, Seattle WA - yowsa, what a great box of cards! Thank you for the AnyHero cards and donation as well!
  59. Jan S, Henderson NV...your AnyHero cards are just wonderful, thanks for them all!
  60. Paula P, Rathdrum ID, you are so talented, thank you for sharing your gifts with our heroes! Your donation is a real blessing too :) :) :)
  61. Denise W, N Las Vegas, NV - beautiful cards, love all the Christmas cheer!
  62. Diane P, Lufkin TX.....welcome to OWH!! Your cards are fabulous!!
  63. Sally B, Massillon OH.....awesome! Love your style!!
  64. LeAnn M, St Paul MN.....WOW! Gorgeous cards...thanks so much!
  65. Jennifer P, Chicago IL.....thanks so much for these fabulous cards!! Love them!
  66. Anne B, New Zealand.....Gorgeous cards! Thanks so much for supporting us!
  67. Lauren K and Immanuel Baptist Church....thanks for these great cards!
  68. Cathy J, Napoleon OH......thanks so much for these beautiful cards!
  69. Helen M, Spring Creek NV.....thanks for these great cards and for getting a head start on Thanksgiving!
  70. Leslie S, Loveland CO......beautiful cards!! Thank you!
  71. Ann L, Orem UT.....awesome cards! Thank you!
  72. Julie M, Cedar Rapids IA....Thanks for these gorgeous cards!!!
  73. Mary Jo P-W and St John's Women's Ministry....thank so much for these great Any Hero letters and cards.
  74. Many thanks, Donna H. of Seekonk, MA for the cards, hero mail, and donation! Awesome talent!
  75. Thank you, Leslie T. of Willoughby Hills, OH!! Awesome cards for our heroes! Love the fall cards!
  76. Thank you, Cecile C. of North Attlebor, MA for these beautiful cards and the hero mail! Awesome designs! Awesome coloring!

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Summer 2010 Cardmaking Parties

We're changing how we promote parties now - and starting with our "Birthday Bash" throughout September! We'll be having parties across the nation all month long....see more about the event and check out the calendar HERE, and sign up your event HERE.

 Tuesday August 3, the Stars and Stamps blog will host a cardmaking party tutorial - stay tuned!!

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Crafters in Washington do it again

In June, crafters from across Washington State convened in the hometown of OWH Headquarters—Federal Way! Yes, in Sandy's little town, at her church, a room was reserved with plenty of space for creating!

Planning started a few months beforehand as a whisper, and when a calendar date was set, emails went out. Attendees were asked to provide a card kit: enough to make 10-20, and they could be any theme, and some could be Christmas! It might have been June, but it's always great to get a jump on things. It was also to be a potluck lunch, since the room was reserved from 8-3, so folks signed up to bring something to eat.

Nametags were provided by one attendee, and the OWH scrapbook was on display for everyone to enjoy. The recent magazine articles were also present for the appropriate ooh-ing and aah-ing! Paper Zone generously gave discount coupons to everyone who participated in the cardmaking event....we're so grateful for their support! And look, one person even brought treats to share with Ciara in that little doggie treat holder! (Click the photo to enlarge.)

The day began with a little chaos in Sandy's life (ha), but quickly righted itself as Esther rescued her and the stampers began to arrive. Room setup had placemats at each spot to protect the church's tables, and 3-5 kits were set out on each table with the supplies and sample cards for each. Did you catch that? 3-5 kits per table meant most everyone had brought multiple kits—the group had its work cut out for the day!

The folks who came approached the cardmaking in a variety of ways: some went from table to table, making one or two of each card there. Others sat at one table, and brought the materials from each table to "their" spot, and made a couple of each. Still others picked a kit and worked their way through them all!

Each person also brought their recent stash with them, saving on shipping them to Sandy...boxes piled up in one corner of the room, and organizing them was one of Sandy's tasks for the day. And while everyone made cards, Esther decided to get a taste of a shipper's life and dove into tucking cards into envelopes; what a great help! She was amazed at how long it took to work through all the boxes. "Tucking envelopes helped me appreciate all the work the shippers have to do before cards are ready to be packed. I was glad to be able to help out. I wish more cardmakers would take advantage of the low-priced envelopes available on the web. Then their cards could go right from their box to the shipper's box for overseas."

And one cardmaker brought her dear husband with her—and he sat and stamped hundreds and hundreds of cards! Sandy had saved up boxes of cards needing stamped, knowing help was on the way, so they were organized and ready for his stamping arm. Bless Jim's heart for diving in and being such an amazing help! (Did you catch what's on his t-shirt? Thank you for your service, Jim!!)

The cardmaking frenzy went on all day...with a buzz of chatter accompanying the worker bees! The group took a lunchtime break together, gaining sustenance for the rest of the afternoon with lasagnas, salads, chips, veggies, fruit, beverages, and of course plenty of chocolate for dessert! Everyone had a great time getting to know each other all day, and lunch was no exception.

The work resumed, with a bit more intensity as the end of the day neared. Everyone had a goal of finishing all the kits, but our goal was just a little beyond our sights: so many kits had arrived, that we never did complete them all! However, several folks took home kits, including Laura from the Paper Zone — she has the staff at their store assemble cards during downtime, so they finished up the 175 that she took with her. Others took home kits as well, and they're arriving over time. Some prizes were donated for the day, and names were drawn out of a hat to award some goodies!

The total for the day went something like this...
553 made at the party
478 more stamped and tucked in envelopes by Jim and Esther
1125 brought to the party
 = 2156 ready to pack for our heroes! 
That doesn't include the kits taken home to finish up! Wow! This slideshow has photos of the 553 cards from kits made this day as they were being sorted and counted - they've of course been stamped on the backs and tucked into envelopes :)

And now, everyone's excited about getting another event going. Vancouver has a date in August, and the more northern crowd may get a date in September or October—can't wait to see what gets made at those events!
Cardmakers Shirley H, Sandy A, and Teresa D

Monday, July 19, 2010

Mailroom Monday: July 19, 2010

Week after after box...M is for Mail! 5630 cards were mailed out this week, at a cost of $210.70—for one week alone! We can't tell you what your generosity in donations means to our work...thank you!

To  heroes in Afghanistan:
340 cards to a Marine unit
345 cards to an Army unit
345 cards to an Army unit
345 cards to an Air Force unit
340 cards to a contractor's unit
150 cards to an Army unit

To heroes in Iraq:
345 cards to an Army unit
345 cards to an Army unit
345 cards to an Army unit
345 cards to an Army unit
345 cards to an Army unit
340 cards to an Air Force unit
340 cards to an Army unit
340 cards to an Army unit
340 cards to an Army unit

To heroes in Qatar:
340 cards to an Air Force unit

To heroes in Kuwait:
340 cards to a Navy unit

Other fun statistics:
Number of boxes sent:  1,653
Number of hero contacts:  820
Total cards sent: 480,496!

Deadline reminders:

Half and Half Challenge: August 14
August 2 - Back to School
September 20 - Halloween
October 1 - Thanksgiving
October 30 - Christmas
November 30 - Any Hero Christmas Letters

Current shipper needs: see here.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Alllll about lumpy cards

Recently we posted a comment that has caused some confusion, and hopefully this post will help clear that up for everyone.

One of the joys of OWH is being able to make some of those cards that are a bit lumpy - the ones that would cost us an extra 20cents to mail. Our heroes don't pay postage on lettermail, so they also don't pay that surcharge! However, we'd like to put a little bit of boundaries around "lumpy" to help everyone out - cardmakers, heroes, and shippers alike!

First, what we're NOT talking about
Before you get worried: Dimensional adhesives, layers, ribbon, bows, etc are fine to use on your cards to give them some dimension - we're not cutting out one of your favorite things, don't worry! We don't want to remove the beautiful handmade elements in our cards. But...some folks have been receiving mail from our heroes - but it's just an empty envelope. No card inside! If some of our shippers and cardmakers are receiving these, we're sure families are likely dealing with the same.  So we've been asked to address what might be causing that; according to our postal sources, it's certain kinds of lumpy that would get chewed up in one of their machines, so we're hoping to eliminate some of that on our cards. (The PO has to tell us that every lump may cause damage, but this post is based on some off-the-record interviewing of postal staff who love OWH!)

The issues
We know that a lot of you need the "why" to understand what we're asking, so here are three main reasons for this post about lumps:

Postal issues.  Though the extra postage isn't a problem, the machines at the post office don't know that. They might still mash up superthick cards. If you don't mind a delicate embellishment getting flattened, that's one thing. However, if the envelope containing your card arrives empty because the embellishment was so thick the machine ate it....well that doesn't do our heroes much good in writing their loved ones, and would even cause some real disappointment at receiving an empty envelope like this one! Mail that is somewhat "evenly" thick (ie layers across an entire card rather than just one spot) makes it through the P.O. easier than a thin card with just one huge button; an envelope with more evenly thick content is more likely to get set aside for hand cancellation than one with a single giant lump.

Packing issues for OWH. Our OWH boxes can contain anywhere from 300-350 cards in each one. When we get a ton of half-inch thick cards, we get a lot less in the box itself, which means less mail going home. Also know that we don't surround thick delicate cards with lots of gentle space around them; if your fluffly flowers were fluffy in your box, they may get compressed in the boxes as they travel to Afghanistan and Iraq. This example is made with flowers cut from a stem of silk ones. The plastic hard centers were left in them, and that might mean it's a pretty bouquet standing up dimensionally on the card  - but would never survive the crush of other cards packed in with it, nor postal machines on the way home. As an AnyHero card, though, this is perfectly fine - those are on top of the boxes, and don't have to go through mail in an envelope!

Sticky issues for OWH. The trouble some of the lumpy embellishments cause to our shippers can be a sticky one. Adhesive. Either there's not enough to hold the embellishment on (causing it to visit the hospital), or the adhesive sticks out past the embellishment or comes unstuck and snags the card next to it. We've seen a number of cards destroyed by adhesive that's not completely covered. So shippers sometimes will set aside cards like these for the hospital, replacing thick embellishments with a thinner one, or trying to protect other cards from adhesive that sticks out. Not always, but if it's something we can do pretty easily, we may replace a big fat button with a thinner one of the same size.

Some do's and don'ts
Here's the fun part—and hopefully there's an answer here for your favorite kind of embellishing!

Even it out. If you want to use a fancy embellishment, use it in a way that evens out the thickness of your card. Meaning, if you have layers on your card, add the embellishment to the thinnest portion of the card, not onto the thickest, and/or add a little more to the rest of the card to make it more even. In the example at left (click to enlarge), the first one shows huge buttons, and they're attached with the thick glue dots. These will cause trouble for sure! The 2nd one uses smaller buttons and thinner dots —better. Both of these are a little saggy under the weight of their buttons though. So better still, the 3rd example adds other embellishments and uses heavier cardstock to even out the overall thickness of the card. That way the envelope and card shouldn't get chewed up in the mail.

Give it heft. If you really want to embellish, give your eye candy something to hold onto! Use a little heavier cardstock—if your card won't stand up on its own, or sags under the weight of what you've attached, it might be telling you it's time to invest in some heavier cardstock...or....*gasp* cut back on some of the embellishing.  (And yes, this is Sandy, the "queen of overembellishing," saying this. My own overdone cards get turned into AnyHero cards if they don't pass muster!)

Use appropriate adhesive. Choose the right size adhesive—if it's a thin ribbon, use a thinner strip of adhesive; if it's a button, the dot should be smaller than the button itself. Flowers should use adhesive that doesn't stick out between the petals. Remember that the thick gluedots might adhere firmly, but they not only add extra dimension to your card - they also create gaps under which other cards become stuck. So choose the thinnest gluedots you can. In the sample flower cards here, the ribbon is at issue—gluedots came detached (often, fabric doesn't stay stuck to gluedots like paper does), so the adhesive peeked out past the ribbon....trouble! The 2nd card uses a line of tape runner adhesive, which works great, and the 3rd example is better still: it's held in place by the liner inside, and the thickness of the bow is balanced by layers under the flower image.

Shop judiciously. When shopping, look for those thinner embellishments, and make sure you stock up on thin gluedots of various dimensions so you have some choices. Pick ribbons that are wider than your favorite adhesive, and consider tape runners instead of glue dots - if the ribbon comes off a line of tape, it's less destructive to the next card in the box than a glue dot is. If you can't resist buying that 8-layer-sticker-sentiment, see if it's got wording that you can use on an AnyHero card!

Consider your options.
Marvy Uchida has come out with a really cool punch that can satisfy your desire for a button, without adding huge thickness. (Read more on Dixie's blog post) There are also cute button stamps that you can ink up in whatever color you want, and cut them out to add where a button would go. There are lots of great products out there now that create great effects with paper, and that works better with cards going through postal machines than hard, plastic, or sharp embellishments.

And now, for your superthick embellishments.
You CAN use any crazy embellishing on your AnyHero cards! If the thing you want to add to the card is that one thick button—go for it on these! Got a thick shaker card? Write a note in it! Want to make a crazy popup-turn-it-round-tricked-out card? Make it a thank-you theme for a deployed hero! Found a beautiful flower that could crush when mailed? Jot some encouragement to a hero inside the card! AnyHero cards sit on the top of the box and don't have to go through the mail anyway, so you can go wild on cards made for your notes to our heroes....and you can picture them as treasures hanging up on their walls!

Hopefully this clears up the confusion we've caused in the past - and gives you some great ideas for embellishing your cards!  If you've been someone sending in these single-lump cards, please don't feel badly — lots of us have done the same! We just want to learn from what our friends at the PO are sharing. Thanks for all you do in making these beautiful cards for our heroes!!!

If you have ideas for ways to get dimensional effects that don't cause huge lumps, share them as a comment below - we'd love to pass them on, maybe as tutorials on our S&S blog too!

(FYI  The cards pictured here that are too lumpy for our heroes to send home will have hero notes written in them instead. I love making lumpy cards just like everyone does....AnyHero cards are a great outlet for that!!)

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Thankful Thursday: July 15, 2010

Happy Thankful Thursday! Pictured here are one day's packages for Dixie in North Carolina....can you say workload!

We have a request to make of you this week — please take a moment to download our brand new packing slip, and replace the old packing slip you had on file. A few reasons:
  1. We still get a lot of cards using the old Cards for Heroes slip,
  2. well as checks made out to CFH - that won't fly with the bank for much longer!
  3. If you have a packing slip from a challenge that has some addresses on it, some may no longer be with us. (Current shippers are always updated in the Mailroom!) Cards sent to previous shippers may or may not make it to OWH.

While you're downloading that and being ever-more helpful to your shippers by including a packing slip, here are a few other packing-up reminders:
  1. Stamping or labelling the backs of your cards saves enormous time for our shippers. As does lining cards made with dark cardstock, removing all plastic sleeves, and sorting by themes! We may not be able to pay our volunteer shippers, but we can save them time and effort for sure.
  2. If cards are not stamped or labeled, please do NOT tuck them in envelopes. That makes triple the work, taking them out to stamp, then replacing them in envelopes.
  3. Please don't put A2 cards in envelopes larger-than-A2 envelopes. The A2s are the only ones that fit efficiently in our boxes, and the bigger ones cause all sorts of challenges.  
  4. Don't forget the other guidelines - like no glitter! As we get toward the holidays, we want to be sure no one forgets that.

And now...on to the list of cardmakers who've sent us their 8,256 beautiful creations this week!

  1. Thank you Aetna Infrastructure Technology Services and Lauri I. of Hamden, CT for these FOUR big boxes of beautiful cards! Wow! I'm blown away!
  2. Thanks Kathy W and all the Scrappin Kats in Cullman, AL for this fabulous box of cards! Think of all the lives these cards will touch! Awesome!
  3. Many thanks Terri D of Lewiston, ME for the cards and donation! I neeeed that web embossing folder!
  4. Thank you Dolores A of Frederick, MD for the cards, hero mail, and generous donation! Love the card with the red car! I want one of those to drive!
  5. Lina W, Hampton VA, thanks so much for the cuuuuute cards! Love these!
  6. Phyllis and the Lincoln Hills Paper Arts Group - another wonderful batch of cards, thank you so very much!!
  7. Thanks, Janet G of Clermont, FL for the cards and donation! Awesome job on these cards!
  8. Thank you to the children at Lafayette Presbyterian Church in Tallahassee, FL!! Great job!
  9. Thanks bunches, Jessica W of St. Petersburg, FL! Awesome cards for our heroes to send!
  10. Thanks, Debbie K of Burke, VA for the cards, donation, and hero mail! Love the masculine cards! I never have enough of those!
  11. Thank you Cindee N of Harrisburg, PA for the cards and donation! LOVE the cards with the fall wreathes!
  12. OH, MY! Thank you to the Wingdoodle Store in Warner, NH! You sent three awesome boxes of cards! Thanks to EVERYONE!!!
  13. Thank you to Donna D and Heather V and the people who attended the OWH Event at Landry Vineyards in West Monroe, LA! Sooo many beautiful cards!! Thanks for the hero mail too!
  14. Thank you Donna D. and Heather V. and ALL who participated at the OWH Event at ABS in Monroe, LA!! Lots of pretty cards and hero mail! Awesome!!
  15. Thank you to the Pre-K Classes of Farmville Elementary in Monroe, LA! Your messages and coloring are adorable, and our heroes will love them!
  16. Brenda H and Noelle M, Post Falls ID - thanks so much for the packet of beautiful cards! They're just lovely!
  17. Dana J, Battleground WA - your cards are adorable, thanks so much...and your donation is frosting on the cake!
  18. Leigh E, Houston, and Nancy R, Fort Worth, TX....I am so impressed with your beautiful cards---our heroes will be too! Bless you for the generous donation as well!
  19. Ann W, Knoxville TN - WOW! You are one amazing lady. Thank you so much for the incredible box filled to the brim with cards!
  20. Thank you Judge M of Monroe, LA for your generous donation!
  21. Thank you Sara B. of Harrisburg, NC for these awesome cards! Love the flowers!!
  22. Thanks Caro H of Mint Hill, NC!! Another collection of pretty cards for our heroes! Awesome! Thank too for the hero mail!
  23. Thanks Marianne K. of Harrisburg, NC for these great cards for our heroes to send to family! Awesome!
  24. Thanks, Lori R of Springfield, VA for another box of pretty cards! I love the flowers on the flip flops! Too cute!
  25. Thank you Marge M of Wayne, NJ for the cards! They make me "Toadily happy!"
  26. Jan H, Parker AZ...I just LOVE your style, girl! Thanks so much for the prizes too!
  27. Jeanne J, Keno OR - wow, what a box of cards, thank you so much!
  28. Julie and everyone at Compassionate Cards, thank you so much! These are beautiful cards.
  29. Theresa D, Kent WA - love your cards so much...and how they show up so regularly on my porch!! Thank you!
  30. Rachel D, Hillsboro OR, your cards are so cute, thank you so much!
  31. Esther E, Vancouver WA - thanks for the great cards for the signing!
  32. Sandy F, Irvine CA - thanks for your awesome package of challenge cards!
  33. Thank you Robin S. of Parma, OH!! Awesome cards! I can tell your art comes from your heart! Military moms rock!
  34. Thank you Sherry H. of Arlington, VA for the cards and the generous donation! Your cards are great, and I love your digi card!
  35. Thank you, Linda G of Ypsilanti, MI for the cards and donation! "Back to School" cards will be going out soon!
  36. Thanks, Lisa N of Marysville, OH for these gorgeous cards and generous donation! LOVE the dragon card!!
  37. Thank you St. Peter Lutheran Church and Robyn L of North Judson, IN for these terrific cards for our military heroes!
  38. Thank you, Kateri B of Canajoharie, NY!! I love Halloween cards!! Makes me think fall's just around the corner!
  39. Thank you Lynda R of Norcross, GA for the many cards and for the letters to Soldiers!
  40. Thank you Mavis S. of Knoxville, TN!! Awesome cards for our heroes to send home to their families!
  41. Many thanks to the Peace Speakers of Collinsville, AL! What terrific cards you sent for our heroes! Thank you too for the generous donation!
  42. Thank you Linda W. in Mesa, AZ!!! LOVE your cards! Thank you too for the donation, the hero mail, and the candy! Our heroes will love that!
  43. Thank you to the SCAL Users Group and Deloris T of West Salem, OH! You people send awesome cards for our heroes! So talented!
  44. Thank you Lauren L of Plainfield,IL for another box chock full of cards for our heroes! Awesome!
  45. Thank you Robin S and Memory Lane in Souderton, PA! What a wonderful box of cards! So many awesome designs! I loved looking at all of them!
  46. Deloris T, W Salem your cards, please tell the users group a huge thank you!
  47. Kristie S, Bakersfield, CA, thanks for this super package of cards...they're so cute!
  48. Tami W, Salem OR - thanks, I always need more AnyHero cards!!
  49. Anita A, Turlock CA - great half and half cards, thanks SO much for your donation too!! You rock!
  50. Carol M, Itasca IL......thanks for the great cards.
  51. Rosalie R, Macomb MI......Another great package of cards..THANKS!
  52. Mary D and Daughters of American Revolution.....thanks for these wonderful cards and Any Hero letters.
  53. Megan B, San Marcos TX.....thanks for the great cards...Love them!
  54. Beverly D, Rochester NY.....thanks so much for these beautiful cards and Any Hero notes.
  55. Debby M, Las Cruces NM......fabulous cards!! Love them!!
  56. Betty T, Salina KS.....another FABULOUS box of cards and Any Hero letters. THANKS!
  57. Susan D, Tinley Park IL.....thanks so much for these very pretty cards!!!
  58. Rita D, Charlevoix MI.....GORGEOUS!! Love these cards!!
  59. Sandra R, Ballwin MO....thank you for these wonderful cards!!
  60. Christina S, Coon Rapids MN......another great package of cards! Thanks.
  61. Sara H, Mabank TX....GORGEOUS!! These are wonderful cards!
  62. Kelli D, Paragould AR.....thanks for another awesome package of cards!!
  63. Liz B, Cedar Lake IN....thank you for great package of cards.
  64. Donna M, Gun Barrel City TX.....thank you for these wonderful cards!!
  65. Carole B, Allen TX.....thanks so much for these great cards.
  66. Debby P, Buffalo MO.....FABULOUS cards!! Love your style!
  67. Bridgette B, Breaux Bridge LA.....wonderful cards! Thanks for sharing them with OWH!
  68. Thank you Jean K of Hanover, MA for the beautiful box of cards for our heroes! Awesome job! Thanks to for the hero mail and the generous donation!
  69. Mary I, Bothell WA - what a lovely first package of cards...thanks for getting the folks at the shower and bbq to sign cards! Your donation is a huge help, thanks!!
  70. Donna D, Monroe LA - wow, thank you for the generous donation!! You're making a huge difference for our heroes!
  71. Thank you Bobbi A of Dayton, OH!! Awesome cards! Love the flip flop cards and the truck cards! Too cute! Thanks too for the donation!
  72. Thanks Judy K in Orfordville, WI! Great cards! generous donation! Love the lattice punched cards! My favorite!
  73. Thank you Mary H of Windham ME!! Awesome cards! Generous donation! I love the Love Bird cards. Clever design!
  74. Mary S, Lenexa KS.....AWESOME CARDS! Thanks for dropping them off at my house.
  75. Joyce B and residents at Woodside Lutheran Home.....WOW! What a great package of awesome cards!! Thank you so much.
  76. Brenda R, East Bethel MN......gorgeous!! Thanks so much.
  77. Jacqueline P and Daisy Troop 42000, Plymouth MN......thanks so much girls for these great Any Hero cards! Great Job!
  78. Cindy M, Normal IL..... thanks for another great package of cards!!!
  79. Karen H, Schofield WI.....thanks so much for this wonderful package of cards! Much appreciated!
  80. Susan S, Grove City OH......thanks for another awesome package of cards and donation!!
  81. Martha G and Crosses Community Church.....thank you for taking the time to make these great cards for our heroes.
  82. Amy S and CVS/Caremark.....thanks to you and your fellow coworkers for putting these great cards together for us!!
  83. Maude B, Las Cruces NM......another awesome package of cards! THANKS!!
  84. Patricia J, Killeen TX......thanks for these awesome cards!!!

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Corvallis, Oregon loves our heroes!

A few weeks ago, Vanessa found out about Operation Write Home. It seemed like such a wonderful organization. Vanessa wanted to help out, but knew she wouldn't be able to make very many cards by herself, so she turned to her church family at Church of the Good Samaritan in Corvallis, Oregon. Eight ladies joined her on Tuesday, July 13th, to help make the cards. Each person came not only eager to learn to make cards (yes, that's right, with the exception of 2 people, the members of the group had never made cards previously!,) but they came in the spirit of service. They came to show their appreciation for the men and women who make daily sacrifices to ensure our freedoms.

The event was a big success. Everyone had such a great time that they plan to have another cardmaking party in September. As one participant said, "This was SO much fun. I can't wait to come back and make some more cards for the troops."

Monday, July 12, 2010

Mailroom Monday: July 12, 2010

To Afghanistan and beyond! 5590 cards were mailed out to our nation's heroes this week (shipping cost: $210.70)'s so amazing these numbers keep going! Thanks to everyone who makes this possible. We're especially grateful lately for the financial donations you make; with shipping costs like these week after week, we need to keep up the support for our post office fund! :)

To  heroes in Afghanistan:
335 cards to a Navy unit
335 cards to an Army unit
335 cards to an Army unit
340 cards to a Navy unit
350 cards to an Army unit
335 cards to an USAF unit
335 cards to an Army unit
335 cards to a National Guard unit
150 cards to a Marine unit

To heroes in Iraq:
335 cards to an Army unit
335 cards to an Army unit
340 cards to an Army unit
340 cards to an Army unit
340 cards to an Army unit
350 cards to an Army unit
350 cards to an Army unit
350 cards to an Army unit
Other fun statistics:
Number of boxes sent:  1,646
Number of hero contacts:  827
Total cards sent: 474,906!

Deadline reminders:

Independence Day: passed Note: You can keep making patriotic cards all the time, just don't put "Happy Fourth of July" on them. Take advantage of those great sales on patriotic papers and supplies!
August 2 - Back to School
September 20 - Halloween
October 1 - Thanksgiving
October 30 - Christmas
November 30 - Any Hero Christmas Letters

Current shipper needs: see here.