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Labor of love to support the troops

Homemade cards are finished and ready. (click for larger version)

Mary Pope sorts through cards. Photo by Mary Keck (click for larger version)
April 03, 2013 - For forty hours each week for the last ten years, Independence Township resident Mary Pope has been performing a labor of love.

Every day, Pope spends hours cutting out shapes, stamping out designs, coloring with markers, taping, and folding. When she's finished, she has a homemade card to send to a soldier serving overseas. "I like the idea of giving something handmade," she said.

Pope has drawers full of shapes, stickers, photographs, and other materials she uses to create unique cards containing sentiments of appreciation. Sometimes she cuts figures from wrapping paper or uses wallpaper samples to create a new design.

"How many kids go over there and don't hear from anybody?" she asked. Pope sends cards to the troops, "just so they know somebody cares."

Whenever she hears of a care package packing party, Pope kicks her card making talent into high gear. She not only sends a card of thanks with a personal message, but she also puts together packs of ten blank cards in plastic bags to add to each box so the troops will have a note they can send home to loved ones.

From stationery featuring familiar pictures of Snoopy, Tinkerbelle, or Spiderman to snowy landscapes, hot air balloons, jungle scenes and patriotic designs, Pope has a card for any occasion. She delivers boxes of the cards to the Desert Angels and Our Lady of the Lakes so they can be added to care packages sent to soldiers. She intends to give cards to American Legion Post 63 for their packing party on April 8 at 6 p.m. In addition, Pope hopes to make 3,000 cards before next winter, so she can mail them to the troops for Christmas.

From time to time, Pope gets help making the patriotic stationery. For instance, when volunteers from Girl Scout Troop 42085 came by, they wrote personal messages to the troops inside each holiday card.

Although, Pope occasionally has friends who help out, she does most of the work on her own and pays for all the materials herself.

"I try and get things on sale," she said. Pope estimates she spends about $100 every six weeks just on double-sided tape. When her machines and cutting boards wear out, she has to purchase new ones. With all the paper, envelopes, as well as the cutting and drawing tools, it costs about 75 cents to make each card. Although Pope admits it gets expensive, she keeps creating the handmade notes because "it's my thank you," she said.

Pope's labor of love stems from her personal ties to the armed forces. Both of her sons have served overseas and making the cards is not only a way of expressing appreciation, it is also therapeutic. As her youngest son continues active service in the military, Pope keeps her mind on making cards. "They're the heroes," Pope said.

Find out how to help Mary Pope by emailing her at popemc@yahoo.com.

Clarkston News reporter
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