Mother’s Day Across the Miles

The good folks at Baghdad USO have forged a great relationship with Operation Write Home, a volunteer organization that has approximately 2,500 talented crafters across the USA making unique greeting cards for the service members at Sather Air Base in Baghdad.  OWH supplies cards for every occasion, whether Birthday, Anniversary, Miss You – or holidays including Easter, Mother’s Day and St. Patrick’s Day.  Sather AB has received over 600 Valentine’s Day cards and every single one was used!  They were also very fortunate to have one of their volunteers, who happens to be a master woodworker, make a beautiful card rack to display the cards in the reception area.

To commemorate Mother’s Day, Operation Write Home asked Baghdad USO to take pictures of our wonderful troops for their website.  They hope to ensure that all Mothers will receive a card from their service members who are passing through Sather AB.  USO Baghdad recently provided photos that are included in Operation Write Home’s video tribute to Moms everywhere, shown below.

Happy (early) Mother’s Day…we hope you enjoy!

More Fun with hoops&yoyo and How They Help Keep One Military Family Connected

A few weeks back we shared an interview with hoops&yoyo, the irascible characters featured in a line of Hallmark eCards.  One of their greeting cards went into each Family Care Package, too!

Today we bring you an interview with the creative team behind hoops&yoyo.  But first, we have the firsthand account of how one military family – the Hendersons – uses these characters to stay in touch during Dad’s deployment.

Some thoughts from mom Kimberly: “So, regarding my pink and green buddies… where to START!

I happened across hoops&yoyo cards one day while picking up some things at Hallmark.  They SO cracked me up!  The kids and I then started buying the talking cards and sending them to Roger [her husband, who is currently deployed. -ed.], about once a week.  We quickly went through all the available cards at our local store!  Then, we found the e-cards, which are even more fun.  Those we send to his office email, so we hope they get everyone’s attention and bring them all a smile!

Riley and Kyle Henderson stand next to their favorite eCard characters...and show their support for our Troops! (USO Photo by Em Hall)

The kids really love these crazy characters.  When we got to meet them at the USO event, it took forever to wind them down afterwards! Kyle loves Yoyo and Riley’s favorite is Hoops.  The kids just think “They are SO FUNNY!”  They like the “Heellloooooooo!!!!!!  I miissssss yoooouuuuuuuu!!!!!!” card.  And, I must admit, we all LOVE the “Do you like Waffles?” song. [Be sure to check their website to hear the song. -ed.]

Roger has kept all the cards we’ve sent him, and he has them all lined up on the windowsill in his room, over in Korea.  He said that when he is having a long, rough day, he will see all those cards and they make him smile.  :)  What more could we ask for?  Other than having him home, of course, we look forward to all the smiles and seeing what next silly and crazy cards they come out with.”

Thanks for sharing, Henderson family!  Let’s hear what Bob Holt – the creator and designer behind hoops&yoyo (and provider of yoyo’s voice)- and Mike Adair  – co-conspirator and voice of hoops – have to say about the characters.

USO: Where did the idea for a comic duo of a bunny and a kitty come from?

Bob: Well, hoops (the pink one) came first. I was up against a tight deadline to make a 4th of July e-card animation. So I started with a little green bunny I had made at home, and he transformed into hoops. I realized later that hoops really needed a pal, so my original green bunny came back to life and became yoyo.

Mike: When Bob decided he needed to give hoops&yoyo voices, he asked me to join him. The rest is history. We have agreed to stay true to the spontaneity of these characters by recording fresh, fun audio with no scripts. We’re armed only with coffee, donuts, and an occasional diet soda.

USO: Kids and adults alike love hoops&yoyo, which makes them such a great way for folks to share things like e-cards and stay connected. How do you keep their appeal so cross-generational?

Bob: We talk about everyday things that pretty much anyone can relate to. And no matter what age you are, there are at least a couple things that everyone appreciates…like laughing and having fun. Our fans give us great feedback, too. We figure they’re our REAL bosses, so we’ll try our best to keep doing what they like!

Mike: Both Bob and I are long-time Hallmarkers, so our sensibilities to taste and appeal are well within the safe zone. Our fans trust us to not push the boundaries too far so everyone can enjoy it. Also, these guys have strong opinions on things that don’t really matter. Who doesn’t like that?

USO: We included a hoops&yoyo greeting card in every USO Family Care Package – did you ever imagine that these characters would travel to military bases in Afghanistan and Iraq and then find their way back to families in the States?

Local children enjoy hoops&yoyo plush toys.

Bob: What’s really nice is that we know these characters HAVE been to Afghanistan and Iraq! We have great friends serving in the military who have sent us e-mails and photos of themselves with the hoops&yoyo plushies while serving overseas in Afghanistan, Iraq and Korea, to name just a few. One of our favorites is a photo of a soldier handing out hoops&yoyo plushies to little children in Iraq. That is a real heartwarmer. It makes us realize how privileged we are to do what we do…thanks to those who serve.

Mike: I can’t imagine half the life these characters are having! They certainly get around, and I’m so proud that they (and we) can be involved in something like this.

USO: We love the “Manners: Sipping a Drink” video that you created and think it’s perfect for parents to show with their kids. Anything else on the website that’s a must-see for families?

Bob: It’s all must-see. Every single bit of it. Well, most of it. Can I get back to you?

Mike: All the Manners stuff is really popular, and the office humor found in The Studio series is fun. My personal favorite is an old Thanksgiving e-card we did where we sang songs while waiting for the food to arrive. Still cracks me up! And all the monthly homepages should be viewed daily.

USO: Thanks for your time; this has been a really fun interview. But one last question: We noticed that “Sergeant hoops” is giving yoyo a really hard time for St. Patrick’s Day! Can you give a sneak peek at any of their upcoming adventures, say, around Memorial Day or 4th of July?  Inquiring minds want to know!

Bob: Well, that’s actually a leprechaun who sounds a lot like Sergeant Hoops. I think they’re cousins. Can you imagine that family reunion? Let’s see, 4th of July…let’s just say there will probably be fireworks involved.

Mike: You’ll want to keep a sharp eye out for the “Ape”-ril homepage – I won’t tell you what it’s about. I like the idea of Sergeant Hoops making an appearance for the fourth. He really runs a tight holiday!

Snapio and the USO Bring Military Families Together through Free Personalized Greeting Cards

How nice would it be to tell that special someone serving overseas, or right here in the States, that you’re thinking of them? Or that you’re proud of them, and wish them safe return?  “Send a Card to a Soldier” makes this possible!

Snapio and the USO have teamed up to help families and loved ones stay in touch – for free!  For a limited time, visitors to the site www.snapio.com/uso will be allowed to pick and choose from over 30 unique card designs, and customize their card to their liking.  It takes just a few minutes for users to write a personal message to their loved ones. Afterwards, the card is printed sealed, mailed and delivered to the recipient.  It’s just that easy!

“It started it off quite simple enough,” explains Nationwide Graphics’ CEO Carl Norton. “We wanted to somehow give back to our country in a way that made sense for everyone.”  The offer is absolutely free to the public; it’s our own small way of saying thanks to the brave men and women who continue to guarantee our freedom and safety.  Visit www.snapio.com/uso to create your card today!