Chirico said he often gets letters from family members requesting that students write to their loved one serving, or a friend.
"They know how much it means to them," said Chirico. "Mothers say the recipients appreciate the students sitting down to collect their thoughts and write a letter; to have someone who is a stranger taking time out of the holiday season to write a note."
Some soldiers respond to their young pen pals, but many cannot. Chirico said mothers, fathers, uncles or aunts make a point of telling him just how much it means to know people care.
Some teachers use the project as a writing lesson in the elementary schools, with students writing them in class or decorating them in art class. Others turn the recycled cards into postcards by writing on the backs. The cards will make their way to places as far off as Japan, Afghanistan, Iraq, Korea and the Panama Canal area. Oftentimes, a bunch of cards are bundled together into one big manila envelope and sent to specific soldier, who can then distribute them to his comrades.
Anyone with a family member, friend or neighbor who is actively serving in the military and won't be home for the holidays can share the name and address with Chirico by emailing him at firstname.lastname@example.org or calling 399-9141 ext.4040.