Turco launches Christmas card drive

Turco launches Christmas card drive

By SANDY SEOANE

Valley Breeze Staff Writer

sandy@valleybreeze.com

NORTH SMITHFIELD - High School freshman Sam Turco wants the country's military soldiers to get a little morale boost during the holidays this year, and he's organized a dual school card drive to help with the mission.

The 14-year-old has started a local collection for Operation Christmas Cards, a national program that aims to "love our troops one card at a time." The effort, which was started via a Facebook campaign by 23-year-old Shrewsbury, Mass. native Amanda Sullivan in 2009, led to some 400,000 cards being shipped in 2012.

Turco got the idea to start a drive in North Smithfield after his brother, a member of the Marine Corps, received a card through the program while serving in Afghanistan. The card included a letter from a boy named 'Christopher' who said that his sister was 21 years old, and very pretty, and that the elder Turco could marry her once he returned home.

"He said it definitely brightened up his day and he couldn't help but laugh," Turco said.

Now, the North Smithfield High School student is working with both his family, and administration at his school and middle school, to bring smiles to the faces of other soldiers.

The two schools are currently accepting donations of unused holiday cards good for all faiths. The family is also holding a yard sale at their home at 43 Homecrest Ave. this Saturday, Oct. 12, and proceeds from one table will go towards purchasing the blank cards.

Once the blank cards are collected, they'll be passed out during student advisories and homerooms, and the 'writing' effort will begin.

"I'm hoping as many students as possible will participate in this event," Turco said.

The schools are also accepting completed cards, including original messages for soldiers, from the general public.

"It's not just a school thing. You can do it at home," said Turco.

The cards can be no larger than 8.5 by 11 inches, and Turco has asked that the messages be "heartfelt," in keeping with this year's national drive.

"Definitely put your mind into this," said Turco. "It's not a five-minute thing. It's about quality over quantity."

In 2013, Operation Christmas Cards will also mail the donations to servicemen on base in the U.S.

"Just because some troops may be 'home' on U.S. soil does not mean that they are truly home and with their families during the holidays," the organization's website explains.

The completed cards must contain a minimum of five sentences and can be decorated, but must not use glitter. Card writers are welcomed to include their home addresses, but can not add their phone numbers. The envelopes must be unsealed when the cards are dropped off.

The deadline for the schools to collect the cards is Nov 1, after which they will be delivered to the larger organization in Massachusetts.

For Turco, it's a cause he can relate to and one from which he may, someday, benefit himself.

"I have a lot of family members in the military and after high school, I'm considering joining the Army," he said.

Questions about the project can be emailed to Principal Robert Mezzanotte at¬?rmezzanotte@nsps.us.