Holiday Mail for Heroes


About the Campaign: Each winter, the Red Cross collects holiday cards from individuals and corporations, and distributes them to veterans, active military members and their families during November and December as a way of brightening their holidays and saying soldiers-with-cardsthank you for their courageous and heroic service. This campaign, known as Holiday Mail for Heroes, annually distributes more than 30,000 cards at VAs, nursing homes, local military units and any other place where active or retired veterans are located in the region. This includes airports for those military members traveling through the region at the time.

Although this is a national Red Cross campaign, all cards collected by the local chapter are distributed

How You Can Get Involved | Buy or create holiday cards, write a message of thanks or season’s greetings, and drop them off or mail them to your nearest Red Cross chapter. Or, blank cards are available at all Red Cross offices. Stop by and sign one or two there.

This is a great activity for school classes, Scout troops, church groups or social groups. Handmade cards, particularly from school children, are the most popular to receive.

2015-12-01-10-29-23What You Need to Know | In order to make cards as meaningful as possible to a wide audience, we recommend you use generic titles such as “Dear Service Member, Veteran or Military Family Member” when writing the cards. You don’t want your “Dear Sailor” card ending up in the hands of a Marine.

Also, cards should not contain glitter, because some cards may end up at the bedside of a wounded service member and the glitter could aggravate existing health issues. And img_0602please don’t add any pictures, letters, checks, credit cards, wads of money, cookies, candy, guns, tanks, fighter jets or such items to the cards. A simple, handwritten note is what’s valued the most.

Double Your Effort | When you get done, take a picture of your work and share it with us on Facebook and/or Twitter.

Get Some Motivation | Check out these videos of others participating in the Holiday Mail for Heroes campaign.


Cards for Causes

Mike Rabidoux sits at the kitchen table of his Northern Kentucky home and takes a deep breath. It is, he estimates, his last free minute until sometime in mid-December. For the next couple of months, business will consume his days. And nights. And weekends. And holidays.

img_0282Eleven years ago, Rabidoux and his wife, Debbie, stumbled into a business niche that, as it turned out, desperately needed to be filled: Printing high quality, personalized greeting cards and giving a portion of the sale price directly to a charity of the customer’s choosing. The concept is so remarkably simple that it’s hard to believe it wasn’t already filled, but it wasn’t. Sure, there were plenty of greeting card companies out there, but only one or two actually added the philanthropic component. And that was the key. There was a massive hunger out there, both among businesses and individuals, to have part of their money go toward helping others instead of just padding some corporation’s bottom line. Realizing that, the couple has been able to make a good living just trying to feed the beast.

The downside, of course, is that Rabidoux pretty much misses out on the last three months of every year trying to complete the holiday orders.

He shrugs and smiles. It’s a good problem to have, he says.

cards7And the problem is getting better. Their business, Cards for Causes, just bought one of its few competitors, so the 600,000 cards they print each year is expected to grow—as are the funds they raise for charity. In 10 years, they’ve given away $930,000, and they are expecting to break the $1 million plateau this year.

Rabidoux glances out into the backyard, where the leaves on the trees are just beginning to turn colors, and thinks back to the beginning. The business, he says, has come a long way. Especially since it was never intended to be a business in the first place.

“We just felt that life has been very good to us, so let’s see what we can do to give back, help out and make life a little better for others.”

Rabidoux made a career in the hotel and hospitality industry, working every aspect from the food and beverage side all the way up to being a regional vice president of operations. He even helped open the first Marriott in Moscow, all of which was great until he lost his job in 2001 after a hostile takeover. With so many contacts built up in the industry after so many years, he wasn’t without job offers very long. There was only one problem: None were in the area. In the years since he and Debbie married in 1978, they moved nearly 20 times as he worked his way up the career ladder. This time, though, their two sons were in middle school and the idea of uprooting them yet again at such a vulnerable age got vetoed. So they stayed. He just needed a job.

cards4If there’s one thing the hospitality industry does well it’s recognize its workers. Clocks, plaques, crystal trophies—do something well and you get rewarded. Having both given out and receiving his share of awards through the years, and knowing a lot of people in the hotel business that needed them, Rabidoux and Debbie opened a promotional marketing business in 2001.

The business included a few cards, so when Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans in 2005, the couple decided to try to raise some money to give to the Red Cross to help.

“We’re not professional fundraisers,” says Rabidoux. “We just felt that life has been very good to us, so let’s see what we can do to give back, help out and make life a little better for others. We didn’t say anything to anyone. We just put it out there. Our goal was to give $1,000. If we could raise that, that would be great. Then we got a call from a law firm in New Orleans who liked the idea. They wanted 10,000 cards. That first year we gave $3,500 for Hurricane Katrina relief. Then we thought, ‘If this works for the Red Cross and Katrina, maybe it would work for others as well.’”

cards3Thus was the birth of Cards for Causes. Today they have 1,100 different cards to choose from and nearly 600 charities listed that people can contribute to. Each quarter the couple sends out about 150 checks ranging from $20 to $15,000 to various charities around the world. Those numbers expand to almost 400 checks in the fourth quarter.

The Red Cross remains among the top 10 charities they contribute to. They have also created cards for the Cincinnati Chapter’s Holiday Mail for Heroes campaign.

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Measles and Rubella Fundraising Campaign

St. Joseph School in Crescent Springs, KY, is the most recent school to conduct a very successful measles and rubella fundraising campaign. Measles is one of the most contagious diseases ever known and is an important cause of death and disability among young children worldwide. Rubella can cause severe birth defects in countries that have little or no vaccination help.thumbnail_img_0412-1

The measles virus will infect anyone who is not protected. These campaigns help in the effort of raising money, awareness and the importance of mass vaccinations of children in underdeveloped countries. In these countries, medical facilities are scarce and children are not routinely vaccinated.

Zachary Serra, an eighth grader at the school, led the campaign to an outstanding result for a school with just 300 students–$339.00! We thank and congratulate both Zachary and his Principal, Mrs. Cathy Stover, for recognizing what a good cause this is and getting the whole school behind it.

Anyone interested in helping to run a campaign in an elementary, high school, or college can contact Paula McIntosh, International Services Manager, at 513-579-3023 and email at You can also contact Alexa Gudelsky, at 513-579-3909 or for the inquiries.


Hurricane Matthew Response

In October, Hurricane Matthew became the strongest hurricane to hit American shores since Hurricane Felix in 2007 and the costliest since Super Storm Sandy in 2012, with an estimated pricetag of $10 billion in damages.

The storm dumped 13.6 trillion gallons of water on four states—Florida, Georgia, North Carolina and South Carolina—including 14 inches on Fayetteville, N.C., the city’s rainiest single day on record. In Florida alone, it’s estimated 1,700 homes were destroyed or received significant damage.

dsc_6531The Red Cross immediately responded, mobilizing nearly 5,000 disaster workers and 235 Emergency Response Vehicles—roughly half the national fleet of ERVS. Through the first two weeks, it provided 93,000 overnight shelter stays, served more than 931,000 meals and snacks, and distributed more than 187,000 relief items.

capture76The storm generated a lot of media attention not just nationally, but within the region as well. Dayton Executive Director Laura Seyfang appeared on all four Dayton television stations as well as in the Dayton Daily News answering questions about the local response to the storm. NMVO Executive Director Lynne Gump was interviewed by the Dayton Daily News about blood donations. ORV Community Executive Debbie Smith spoke to the Portsmouth Daily Times about making monetary donations. Regional Disaster Officer John Bernard and Communications Director Skip Tate were interviewed on various topics as well.

Regional CEO Trish Smitson was on three news programs in Cincinnati—including a 5:00 a.m. live remote and a five-hour telethon on the Cincinnati ABC affiliate, WCPO. During the telethon, viewers called the station and donated $13,000 to the Red Cross, which was combined with a $5,000 matching grant by St. Elizabeth Healthcare for a total of $18,000 raised.

Arguably, the most innovative media coverage was an interview with Becca Strobridge, a disaster program specialist in Dayton, while she was in the passenger seat of an Emergency capture77Response Vehicle on its way to Florida. The real-time interview was done utilizing her cell phone and the Facetime app.

Through mid-October, a total of 26 people from the region were deployed to the East Coast to help with the disaster recovery operations. Hurricane Matthew is the 10th major disaster that volunteers and staff from the region have responded to during 2016, joining:

  • Flint, Michigan, water crisis in January
  • Alberta, Canada, wildfires in May
  • Texas flooding in May
  • West Virginia flooding in June
  • Orlando mass shooting in June
  • Kentucky flooding in July
  • Louisiana flooding in August
  • Indiana tornado in August
  • Iowa flooding in September

National Fire Prevention Week October 9-15

Oct. 9-15 is National Fire Prevention Week. Since you never know when a fire might occur, it’s important to be prepared, and know how to prevent them from happening. The American Red Cross responds to a fire every nine minutes.This week we are sharing ways you can do your part in preventing, and preparing for fires in your home.


Tip 1: Keep a fire extinguisher on every level.It’s important to remember that fire extinguishers are only one element of a complete fire survival plan. Use your extinguisher only to keep a small self-contained fire from growing, only when the room is not filled with smoke, or to create a safe pathway out of the home. Be sure to read the instructions and become familiar with your fire extinguisher’s parts and operations before a fire breaks out.


Tip 2: Keep flammable material 3 feet from heat sources. Keep objects like furniture, bedding and clothing away from radiators and space heaters. Do not leave space heaters on when you are not in the room or when you go to sleep. Not only are they fire hazards, they can also cause carbon monoxide poisoning.


Tip 3: Never leave food on the stove unattended. Remember to stay in the kitchen when you are frying, grilling, broiling, or boiling food. If you have to leave the room, even for a short period of time, turn off the stove. Also, when you are simmering, baking, or roasting food, check it regularly, stay in the home, and use a timer to remind you.


Tip 4: Don’t overload electrical outlets. Drawing too much energy from one electrical outlet can cause you to lose electricity or (far worse) start an electrical fire. With that being said, you may also want to consider buying a surge protector to protect expensive equipment (like computers, TVs, and stereos) from electrical surges, which can cause damage. Heavy current appliances such as stoves, hot water heaters, electric dryers, etc. should be on separate circuit breakers or fuses because they draw so much electrical current.


Tip 5: Have an escape plan. Eighty percent of Americans don’t realize that home fires are the single most common disaster across the nation. Therefore, plan your escape and your capabilities. Know at least two exits from every room and make sure your family knows them as well.

Tip 6: Install smoke alarms on every level. Fires can spread very quickly, so every second is important. Smoke alarms can give you extra time to escape a fire by alerting you if there’s a fire somewhere else in your home or apartment building, waking you up if a fire starts while you are asleep, or by detecting a fire before you are even able to see flames or smell smoke.


Tip 7: Store and use matches, lighters, and candles carefully. Be sure to keep matches and lighters away from young children. Store them in a cool, dry place away from heat sources (such as stoves or heaters) that could accidentally ignite them. Don’t light matches or burn candles around flammable objects, and avoid burning candles near an open window or breeze that could spread a fire and never leave candles burning unattended.

Honoring Veterans for Veterans Day

Veterans Day is November 14th and the Red Cross would like to create a photo essay/slide show for use on a variety of Red Cross social media platforms.  The photo essay/slide show would highlight 10-15 veterans who continue to serve their community/country by volunteering or working for the American Red Cross.  The Red Cross would like to request that everyone reach out and identify veterans in all lines of service.

 To make this work we will need:

1.    A high quality photo of a veteran(s) who volunteers or works for the region.  We would prefer a photo of them in action…if not we’ll take a nice head shot.

a.    Branded with Red Cross

b.    Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, & Coast Guard

c.    Variety of Red Cross jobs (DAT, ERV driver, PHSS, SAF volunteer/staff)

 2.    Don’t forget to secure photo/information releases for your subjects.  Please explain to each of the subjects that their images may be used for more than just this tribute project.(possible FR and marketing use)

 3.    A short paragraph about the vet that includes:

a.    Name

b.    Branch of service, rank

c.    What was their last duty assignment and what was their military job.

d.    How long have they been with the Red Cross and what do they do at the chapter.

e.    Just an example – Dudley Baker is a veteran of the U.S. Air Force who retired as Chief Master Sergeant after 25 years of service.  His last duty assignment was with 8th Fighter Wing at Kunsan, A.B. Korea where he served as the senior enlisted advisor to the installation commander.  Baker has been with the Red Cross for over 10 years and is currently an SAF Division Director. He continues serving his country by helping support the men and women of the U.S. Military with American Red Cross services. Please create your own short narrative about your Vet.

 4.    I’ll use the best 10-15 (or more) based on the quality of the photo and captions and try to cover each division.

 5.    The deadline to send the photos and captions to Cory Paul is October 19th.