Voorhees Arts Council creates holiday cards for active service members

Creations are then sent with care packages around the world

Members of the Military Support Group of New Jersey create care packages for active service members abroad on a regular basis. In the past, care packages included snacks, playing cards, letters and other reminders of home. This year, they’ll also be including holiday cards made by the Voorhees Arts Council and other community members. (Special to The Sun/The Sun)

The Voorhees Arts Council (VAC) has teamed with the Military Support Group of New Jersey and the community to create and deliver watercolor holiday greeting cards for deployed military personnel.

From 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Nov. 13, at the Voorhees Town Center’s food court, the VAC will provide art supplies, material and instruction for those interested in creating a painted holiday card.

The cards will then be sent with care packages created by the Military Support Group to deployed service members around the world for the holidays, and will be entered into a social- media contest where the winning card design will be printed and available for purchase at the VAC as part of a fundraiser. The winner will also receive a free art class or, if he or she is a gallery artist, a free month of rent.

“[The holiday card making] is being done so early in November because of the delays in shipments,” explained VAC Chair Marianne Leone. “We’re grateful to be part of this giving back through our Healing Art for Our Hero’s Heart program.”

The card making event is a continuation of the Healing Art program led by VAC Artist Amy Bash began in August 2020 as a way to give back to the military community. VAC invited people to submit names of veterans or active-service members and local artists created art pieces for them.

Karen Jennings, founder and director of the Military Support Group, recalled one instance where an artist created a guitar out of broken CDs for a Vietnam veteran who had an interest in music.

“It was so beautiful. It just took my breath away,” Jennings said. “The veterans are just so thrilled, especially the ones from Vietnam, because they weren’t recognized. …  I think a lot of these Vietnam vets that get these pieces of artwork, or a card, or any kind of recognition, they really appreciate it.“

Jennings started the Military Support Group in 2004, after her son joined the service, in the hope that she would find other families whose kids were deployed. The group has since evolved from a support group for families to one that also sends care packages and makes blankets for the wounded, veterans and military babies.

The nonprofit is based in Stratford and works with American Legion Post 281 in Gloucester Township to assemble the care packages. Jennings noted the group typically aims for 500 to 600 packages a year.

“We try to help our military and our veterans feel cared and loved,” Jennings noted. “I call them care packages, but it’s a box of love from the U.S. to wherever they are.”

Thanks to funding from the Wawa Foundation, the arts council continues to provide cards for the Military Support Group throughout the year. Card making takes place on the Wednesday before the second Thursday of the month at the town center food court and is open to the public.

To stay up to date with the Voorhees Arts Council, visit https://voorheesartscouncil.org/ or follow it on Facebook. For more information about the Military Support Group of New Jersey, contact Karen Jennings at karenjjennings@aol.com or (609) 206-2015.