SCHOFIELD BARRACKS, Hawaii - A brightly colored holiday card decorated with a Christmas tree and American flag read, "My Christmas wish this year is for you to be home with your family."

This card, along with thousands more, is currently in route to Iraq to bring wishes of holiday cheer to a Soldier in the 2nd Stryker Brigade Combat Team (SBCT).

The unit is currently on a 15-month deployment, expecting to return in May of 2009. This is the 2nd Christmas in a row the Soldiers will spend in Iraq.

Through a grassroots effort, community members from around the country are teaming up to put a smile on the faces of Soldiers this holiday season through Holiday Cards of Care '08 (HCC08.)

Maurice McCaffrey, the father of Col. Todd McCaffrey, commander, 2nd SBCT, is dedicated in keeping his entire family up to date on Todd's status in Iraq.

After Maurice's cousin, Dave, read a message from McCaffrey in late October, stating many members of Todd's brigade were spending their third Christmas in five years in Iraq, Dave had the idea of reaching out to his friends and associates all over the country to invite them to send a card to a Soldier in the unit. HCCO8 was then born.

"It is a very small way to pay a tiny bit to our Soldiers assigned in Iraq," said Lisa McCaffrey, 2nd SBCT Senior Family Readiness Group Advisor. "It has also made people stop and think of our heroes, living and dead, who have sacrificed themselves for us."

Currently more than 5,000 holiday cards have been sent to Soldiers downrange, passing the goal of 4,300, the number of Soldiers assigned to the unit.

"I wanted to get involved so that every Soldier would feel the love and support of fellow Americans while they are separated from their family for yet another Christmas," said McCaffrey.

Participating schools on the island, including Trinity Lutheran School in Wahiawa, also participated in the program, taking time out of the busy day to prepare cards in class.

"The students wanted the Soldiers to know that even though they are far away, we at home were thinking about them and praying for them," said Jenny Burton, fourth grade teacher at Trinity Lutheran School. "(The program) helps the students and Soldiers become a part of each others lives... and share Christmas together."

The holiday season brings many traditions, family gatherings and general good feelings. With the help of the community, 2nd SBCT Soldiers will feel the warmth and aloha this Christmas.

"This effort means a lot to the dedicated families here at Schofield," said McCaffrey. "They are a determined group with which the support of fellow Americans will keep them strong until their Soldier comes home.""

Page last updated Fri July 22nd, 2011 at 12:16