Valentines for Veterans brightens lives one card at a time
For close to 30 years, veterans around the area haven’t lacked for Valentines, thanks to a program started by Holcombe resident Sue Staudacher. Through support of her parish, Holy Cross Catholic Church in Cornell, Sue has been responsible for giving out thousands upon thousands of handmade cards to veterans.
The Veterans for Valentines program began, after Sue read an article that stated veterans didn’t have anything going on between Christmas and Easter. The article suggested people make cards to send to veteran hospitals for Valentine’s Day. Sue approached her church and the program began, with the CCD kids making about 100 cards that first year.
“We didn’t know how many people they (veterans hospital) had at that time,” said Sue. “Our goal each year, was to have one more Valentine.”
That was then and this is now, where 850 cards were sent out this year, from the church program, with each veteran receiving two cards.
“It just kept growing and growing,” said Sue. “It got so people were asking us the first of January, right after Christmas, OK, when are you going to get the Valentines out for us to color?”
The program really took off, after a church lady suggested using her home print shop program on her computer. The Valentines were printed off, then distributed for coloring.
“This year, we actually found ones that are specific for veterans,” said Sue.
The first year, the program started out with veterans in Tomah, then heard about a veterans home in Chippewa Falls, as well as a shelter for homeless veterans. Then, two years ago, Sue discovered they had enough cards to give to every resident at the Cornell nursing home, veteran or not. Recently, Sue added the VFW to the list.
While Sue is on her third address book on where to send the cards, the numbers who color the Valentines have also grown. The blank cards are placed on a church table for people to take home and work on.
Some kids have colored on the cards from ages two to 96, while in the past, after- school kids have even helped out. Sue says not only do youth get excited about helping make ready the Valentines, but there are elderly who look forward to coloring the greetings.
“So, it’s not only blessed the veterans, but also blessed the community,” said Sue.
It’s important for Sue to get kids involved as a service project, so they understand how important it is to help others.
“They know they’re doing something good for somebody,” she said.
Sue isn’t in this alone, as her husband, David, helps color cards and mail them, as well as delivering them to the Chippewa Falls home.
“He has been so supportive,” said Sue.
David, or the King of Hearts, as Sue calls him, wasn’t forgotten, as Sue made sure she kept a Valentine back for her very own veteran. The couple was also honored at their church, for keeping the program going 30 years.
A special party was held in celebration, with David and Sue proclaimed as the king and queen of the event.
“They really did shock me, I had no idea that was coming,” said Sue.
Sue says she is so grateful to anyone who helps with the program in any way and said she is only a small part in what goes on. She says she doesn’t do what she does for recognition, that a smile on a veteran’s face is thank you enough.
“I love it,” said Sue. “It’s one of my favorite times of year.”
Lately, Sue has started to put detailed files together, with addresses and the number of Valentines needed each year, and those who color them. That way, anyone can step in and take over the program one day.
“This will continue after me,” she said.