Local woman's good deed inspires nationwide project

FEDERAL WAY, Wash. -- The distance between Afghanistan and Federal Way is more than 6,000 miles.

For a deployed soldier and their family, it can feel even farther than that, but Sandy Allnock is working to close the gap one card at a time.

In 2007, after hearing a radio story about a Texas woman who sent 1,000 cards to her deployed son's unit, Allnock decided to do something similar. She gathered up some of her friends, collected their handmade cards, and sent them to soldiers deployed to conflict zones, such as Afghanistan.

"I put a call out and said why don't you guys send me your cards and I'll find a soldier to send them to," said Allnock. "I thought this was a way we could help soldiers keep in touch with their families and maintain those relationships while they're so far away."

Now, six years later, that small project has blossomed into an nationwide effort called Operation Write Home.

Through the help of thousands of card makers, Operation Write Home has mailed 2.5 million cards to soldiers, who in turn send those cards back home to their loved ones.

"Some (families) even smell the letters to see if it smells like their loved one," said Allnock. "It's just that touch between the two. They know they held something the other one has held."

Allnock said the soldiers are just as grateful and have told her before Operation Write Home, they often resorted to Post-It notes for cards.

"They write to us all the time telling us what it means to them in strengthening their relationships, in connecting with their children when they're gone," said Allnock.

Allnock says the cards are sent to soldiers every week with cards for any occasion.

They're shipped as care packages that are each topped with a plastic bag filled with 20-30 letters from adults and children across the country, handed out to those in need of a positive word from home.

So, what's Allnock's inspiration?

She said politics aside, everyone can agree that soldiers deserve support, because every soldier is someone else's loved one.

"I feel like I know them in some way like I have hundreds and hundreds of kids in the service now," said Allnock. "Even though I've never met them, they're mine."
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