The fifth graders at Quarryville Elementary School are hoping to keep the holiday spirit alive for U.S. soldiers serving overseas and veterans in hospitals while they're away from home for the holidays.For the first time, the three fifth grade classes have written letters to soldiers through the American Red Cross Holiday Mail for Heroes program.

Teacher Tawn Battiste said she received an email about the program and decided to have the students participate. They also happened to be learning about how to write a "friendly letter" so it was a fitting project.

Battiste showed the students a video on the Internet so they could learn more about the project.

Holiday Mail for Heroes is a partnership between the American Red Cross and Pitney Bowes to deliver one million holiday cards to American service members, veterans and their families in the United States and around the world.

Pitney Bowes is generously donating technology, resources and postage to make this holiday card program possible. Every card received will first be screened for hazardous materials by Pitney Bowes and then reviewed by Red Cross volunteers working in one of 16 sorting stations around the country.

After the students wrote the letters, they pasted them inside their choice of four colorful holiday cards and colored the drawing around the letter.

Daniel Riddell said he thanked the soldiers for keeping our country safe.

"It's a fun project," he said. Kayla Schneider said she thanked the troops for protecting our country and wished them happy holidays.

"I think that they will be glad that people are caring about what they're doing," said Schneider, who added that she thought the project was fun.

Kara Richards said she thanked the troops for serving our country.

"It's just really good having them over there fighting for our freedom," she said.

Claire Hershey said she wrote that she is proud of what the troops do and wished them happy holidays.

Christy Nafziger said that she wished the soldiers a Merry Christmas.

Keith Carnike said he was glad to be sending the cards "just to cheer them up."

For more information about sending cards, visit www.redcross.org/holidaymail

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