Letter campaign 'a lofty endeavor'

The Festival of Children Foundation and Team Kids are busy with their Letters from Home program, an attempt to set the Guinness World Record for most letters written to U.S. military personnel in a one-month period.

The two nonprofit organizations teamed up for Global Youth Service Day on April 12 at South Coast Plaza in an effort to collect 10,001 letters by May 12.

The campaign is a group effort, according to Sandy Segerstrom Daniels, founder and executive director of the Festival of Children Foundation, which raises money for children's charities.

"Attempting to break a world record is a lofty endeavor that by its very nature requires collaboration," she said. "Collaboration is a cornerstone of Festival of Children Foundation. Our goal is much bigger than these 10,001 letters, however. We want to instill the importance of giving back and doing for others."

The 2,424 letters that have been collected so far show gratitude to the troops for their sacrifice.

"Thank you so much for risking your life and putting yourself out there for our country," reads one letter.

"Leaving your family and loved ones is the ultimate sacrifice," says another letter. "May God always be in your heart and looking after you, wherever you are."

"Not all heroes are found in comic books," a third letter reads.

Last year, 10,000 letters were sent by students through the Team Kids' programs, said founder and Chief Executive Officer Julie Hudash. Team Kids, according to its website, implements school-based and community-wide programs to inspire youths to be positive change agents.

"Letters from Home has inspired kids from Maine and Virginia to California to stop for a moment and let one of our military heroes know that they are loved, appreciated, and that we are thinking of them back home," Hudash said.

The letters will be sent by Operation Gratitude, which delivers more than 150,000 care packages and personal letters annually to service members, their children, veterans, first responders, wounded warriors and their caregivers, according to its website.

The deadline to set the Guinness World Record is May 12.

Festival of Children and Team Kids are encouraging everyone, including families, church groups and youth groups, to write. Letters can be mailed to Festival of Children Foundation, 3315 Fairview Road, Costa Mesa, CA, 92626, or to Team Kids, 2192 Martin, Suite 280, Irvine, CA 92612.

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