LARSON: Even troops need a little love from home

When it comes to supporting our troops, Kat Orr of Loganville goes above and beyond the call of duty. Through her nonprofit organization known as Operation Love From Home, she has sent more than 100,000 Christmas cards to our troops.

“Ever since I was a teenager, I’ve always ‘adopted’ individual deployed soldiers. In 2001, after 9/11, I kicked it up a notch and started reaching out to more troops all over the world,” Orr said.

Orr, a Loganville mother of four, started collecting Christmas cards from people in the community to send to troops overseas. In her first major mission, for Christmas of 2006, she sent 19,000 cards to men and women serving in the armed forces. Then she followed up with thousands of cards for Valentine’s Day and the Fourth of July.

“In 2007, OLFH became an official organization,” Orr said. “We have a fantastic team of true patriots. Patty Burgess, Kristen Henshaw and Gail Moore work tirelessly to send love from home to troops.”

Vice President, Gail Moore, works tirelessly with her whole family for OLFH.

“Not only is this an amazing thing for the men and women overseas, it connects my children to the world in this very personal and extremely real way,” Moore said. “I have to believe that with each card written, that kind of immeasurable bond is forged with our service men and women is meant intimately by those who care enough to write out the blessing, greeting or just words of encouragement.”

Publicity for OLFH is handled mostly by word of mouth and occasional card signing booths at local fairs and festivals.

“The Girl Scouts’ contributions have been huge and we get lots of cards from schools and nursing homes.”

Any card will warm a soldier’s heart, but they love cards from kids.

“Many of them have kids back home and they miss their kids. And the kids’ cards are so sincere. One child wrote, ‘When I get scared I squeeze my teddy bear. I wish you had a teddy bear to squeeze,’” Orr said.

Cards may be homemade or store bought, but Orr requests that you leave the envelope unsealed.

“Please do not write the date on the card or use glitter. And please do not make any political statements or say anything suggestive,” Orr said. “This is not a dating service. I read every card to make sure it is appropriate.”

Orr is collecting cards until Nov. 20. Even with the recent troop withdrawal from Iraq, there are still more than 300,000 service men and women out there serving from the North Pole to Antarctica who would appreciate a little love from home.

Please send your cards to Mrs. Kat Orr Operation: Love From Home, P.O. Box 1660 Loganville, GA 30052. Deadline is Nov. 22. For more information visit www.operationlovefromhome.org.

Susan Larson is a Lilburn resident. E-mail her at susanlarson4@yahoo.com.