Army veteran Mark Upmeyer took a break on Veterans Day on Wednesday to send a personal greeting to someone in the armed forces.
“I’ve been in your shoes and respect and honor all you are doing,” he penned on a handmade card to be delivered during the holiday season through the American Red Cross.
Upmeyer, a supervisor in customer service at Pitney Bowes in Spokane, is part of a companywide effort to support the people serving in the military.
The company teamed up with the Red Cross for the third year of a Holiday Mail for Heroes program, in which more than a million greeting cards will be collected and distributed to soldiers and veterans during the upcoming season.
Pitney Bowes, which specializes in mailing systems, provides a security scan of the cards to ensure they are safe.
Participation is open to the public.
“I understand how they feel over there and what it means to receive a card,” Upmeyer said. Simple words from a stranger can become a source of pride and comfort, he explained.
Spokane employees of Pitney Bowes have made more than 500 cards for delivery this year.
“Our soldiers are over there giving us the right to have the freedoms we have,” employee Shirl Pfennig said.
Pfennig’s husband, Everette, and her two sons served in the military.
“It’s a very strong feeling in me,” she said. “I think we need to keep in mind why we are free.”
On Wednesday, Pfennig and other employees turned their main conference room at 1313 N. Atlantic St. into a display honoring service members.
Pfennig brought military photos and memorabilia from her family.
Upmeyer displayed his Army uniforms from the 1990s, along with photographs, field manuals and citations.
Coryann Nehring, another Pitney Bowes employee, brought her Navy uniform as well as an annual book and photographs.
A stream of co-workers stopped by to take a look, including one woman who said her fiancé was killed in Vietnam in the late 1960s two months after being deployed.
In addition to the holiday cards and Veterans Day display, the workers at Pitney Bowes are assembling holiday care packages to be delivered to military family members of employees, Pfennig said.
For the holiday card program, the Red Cross is asking that a short message begin with the salutation, “Dear Service Member, Family or Veteran” and be personally signed. Limit the number to 15 cards a person or 50 from any single class or business group and bundle them.
Senders should not write letters, disclose personal information, add inserts or place glitter on the cards, the Red Cross said.