Area residents can wear their hearts on their sleeves through Operation Valentine.
Personalized Valentine cards for troops will be collected through Jan. 31 at all three Hindman Funeral Home locations: 146 Chandler Ave. and 1521 Frankstown Road in Johnstown and 333 Beaver St. in Hastings.
Hindman is one of nearly 1,000 Veterans & Family Memorial Care providers nationwide who sponsor the annual Operation Valentine initiative.
Cards may be dropped off between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. or mailed to the funeral home.
“The majority bring them in, and the majority (of cards) are handmade,” funeral home owner Bill Hindman said. “The project is simple and meaningful. Students and individuals throughout the community write messages to the troops on Valentine cards or cut-out hearts, and we make sure they are delivered to our brave men and women serving overseas.”
Cards cannot include glitter, food or candy.
“The schools have been instrumental in helping out,” Hindman said. “We also get Scout troops, Sunday school classes and even nursing homes. The community is supportive of all our veterans events.”
Hindman said teachers have contacted him before the announcement is made each year and are all set to go.
“They box or bag (the cards) up, and they’re ready to go,” he added.
Hindman said he has not received any Valentine cards yet, but expects to get them in plenty of time for the deadline.
“I like to see what the kids come up with, and it’s priceless,” Hindman said. “My kids are the same age, 7 and 9, and it’s interesting to see what’s on their mind.”
Individuals also may send a card.
“I’d say nine out of 10 times, this is family members of veterans,” Hindman said. “It’s nice to see school and civic groups responding as well as individuals.”
Hindman has gotten responses from veterans who are very appreciative.
“Our troops are away from their loved ones and friends, so they really want to know people back home appreciate them,” Hindman said. “Care packages are one thing, but this is a real morale boost.”
Ruth Rice covers Features for The Tribune-Democrat. Follow her on Twitter at Twitter.com/RuthRiceTD.