EBENSBURG - Bishop Carroll Catholic students are looking to break records in their second year participating in the Military Mail campaign, a yearly national effort to send holiday greetings to troops stationed overseas.
"It's a great way to say something to those people who are serving our country and who aren't going to be able to be with their families at Christmastime," said English teacher and student council adviser Joseph Skura.
Skura said he participated in the campaign when he was a Penn Cambria student, and when he heard last year the project still existed, he brought the idea to students.
Mirror photo by Patrick Waksmunski
Bishop Carroll Catholic High School juniors Alli Farabaugh, 16, and Nik Suckinos, 17, write Christmas cards for soldiers.
"You collect unused Christmas cards, and everyone completes them, as many as they can write out, with a Christmas message," he said, then sign the back with their name and address.
Many of the soldiers write back to the students thanking them for the card, Skura said.
The cards are bundled in packs of 25 without envelopes and sent to the Altar and Rosary Society of the Basilica of St. Michael the Archangel in Loretto, whose members help get the cards sent out.
St. Michael's has been ranked No. 1 nationally for the past several years. Last year, it was able to send 28,675 cards, with 2,250 cards coming from Bishop Carroll.
Skura said the school received a certificate, saying it was first in the state and the second high school in the nation.
Last year students were happy to exceed a 2,000-card goal, Skura said, but this year, they're going for 5,000 cards.
"Many teachers bring in boxes of blank cards. Students do too," he said. "They fill them out in study hall, during lunch or in free time."
All 60 ninth-grade students participated last year, plus the majority of the rest of the school, more than 200 students in total.
"Some just wrote one or two, but some did bundles," Skura said. "Some people from the community dropped off cards to be filled out ... which was really nice. The more cards we have, the more we can write out to send."
St. Michael's volunteer Barb Bender said signed cards are due by Nov. 25 so they can pack and mail them to a distribution center in North Carolina, where the cards are divided, boxed and shipped to bases, ships and submarines all over the world.
"We thank everyone who participated in this project, and we welcome new participants," she said.
In order to help send more cards than ever for the Military Mail campaign's 27th year, participants can donate cash, which will be used for postage, or signed cards.
Signed cards should be bundled with rubber bands in packs of 25 or 50, with an additional 20 cents per card included for postage, and sent to St. Michael's.
For more information, participants can contact Bender at 472-9465, or Maggie Biter at 472-6064.
Skura said the goal isn't really setting a record, but about giving back.
"We've been collecting cards all year," he said.