Send soldiers some love from home

When it comes to Christmas, Michelle Lynch has the same mentality as department stores - it's never too early to start thinking about it.

That's because Lynch is part of an organization called Operation Love From Home, a group that collects greeting cards to send to military personnel overseas. The group collects cards to celebrate Valentine's Day and the Fourth of July as well, but as you can imagine Christmas is the one they try to hit hardest.

That's why the group wants to send out 50,000 cards this year - double the amount it sent last year.

"It's just a chance for people to express their gratitude," Lynch said. "Our mission is to send a little love from home. We want to really push our troops forward."

Lynch, a Loganville resident, is one of the group's four board members along with Patty Burgess, Melissa Slocum and Kat Orr, who started the letter writing campaign in 2004. The group promotes its campaign at some local festivals, which is how Lynch got involved.

"I met (Kat) at the festivals when I wrote a letter," Lynch said. "And the next thing I know I was filling out cards for 30 minutes (at a time)."

Lynch said participating is easy, and the organization encourages individuals to send multiple cards. In fact, it's a good project for families, scout groups and school classes, she said.

Cards should not be in envelopes and it is up to the writer if he or she wants to include any more than a first name. You can also e-mail your thoughts through the group's Web site - www.operationlovefromhome.org - and your comments will be printed out and pasted inside a greeting card.

Cards can be mailed to: Operation Love From Home, P.O. Box 1660, Loganville, GA, 30052. For more info, e-mail Lynch at michelle@operationlovefromhome.org.

Lynch said the organization has incorporated and is currently seeking tax exempt status as a nonprofit. Operation Love From Home sells T-shirts, magnets and bracelets on its Web site and uses those proceeds to help offset the cost of shipping the letters.

It is a genuine labor of love for Lynch and the other board members, who collected 25,000 letters last year, 5,000 more than their goal. Their goal for this year is lofty but well worth it, Lynch said.

Especially when they hear back from soldiers. One response, printed on the group's Web site, sums it up: "It's always great to get mail from friends - it's like getting an extra scoop of ice cream."

"I come from a family that has a military background; it's rich in my blood," Lynch said. "We want (our troops) to know there are people here who care for them and that our country is backing them up."

E-mail Todd Cline at todd.cline@gwinnettdailypost.com. His column appears on Tuesdays.