In this age of Tweets and texts, Gloria Dale sticks with an old-fashioned method of sending holiday cheer to veterans and troops.
She writes each of her greeting cards by hand.
The 78-year-old spends much of the year preparing about 1,575 cards to hand out at local nursing homes and to mail to active military personnel overseas.
She’s a fixture at the Dunkin’ Donuts on SR 54 in Land O’ Lakes — where she plants herself at her favorite corner table on Wednesdays, Saturdays, Sundays and holidays.
She sips coffee as she jots out cards. Sometimes she’ll indulge in a bagel or some oatmeal.
When she’s not at the shop, she can be frequently found penning the cards at Winter Quarters Pasco RV Resort’s clubhouse, while watching NASCAR or her beloved Tampa Bay Rays.
Dale does the holiday card project every year, on behalf of the Lutz-Land O’ Lakes Woman’s Club.
She got involved about eight years ago, while helping other club members complete the task.
“Well, some of them write so small you can’t read it,” Dale said. So, she thought to herself: “I’ll just take that little chore on myself.”
She asked the group: “Can I take these cards home?”
They told her that’d be fine.
“So, I took those cards home on a Thursday, and the next Thursday I took them back, all done,” Dale said.
Since then, the project has become Dale’s little baby.
As soon as one holiday season is over, she’s out buying cards for the next one.
“After Christmas, I go to the store. They’ll come down — 75 percent and 80 percent off,” said Dale, who pays for the cards herself.
The woman’s club pays for the postage to send the cards overseas, said Rosie Heim, club president.
Heim said the club is lucky to have someone with Dale’s commitment.
“I’m loving that she does it. She gives a personal touch from the club, which we like,” Heim said. “We want people to know that we care. She has beautiful writing.”
Signing the cards is simple, Dale said.
“I could get a stamp that says ‘Merry Christmas’ or ‘Happy Holidays,’” Dale said, but she added, “That would look horrible.”
Instead, she carefully signs each card, places it in an envelope and then adorns the envelope with holiday stickers.
“This is what it looks like when it’s finished,” Dale said, holding a card that she’s finished. “It doesn’t look commercial.”
Dale says she enjoys the project. It’s a way she can honor people who have put their lives on the line for the nation.
“My dad was in the service,” she said. “I had an uncle who was in the service who got killed. I had brothers-in-law and my husband. They all served.
“My (late) husband (Harry), about the last thing he said to me was, if there’s anything to do to help a veteran, help them. So, I try my best.”
Not everyone who gets a card always knows they get it, especially in nursing homes where patients may not always be aware of what’s going on around them.
“But the family will know that they have a card, that we’re thinking of them,” Dale said.
The greetings may also bring a bit of cheer to troops overseas at the holidays, she said.
“I enjoy doing the cards. I can sit and write all day long,” Dale said. “It gives me something to do. It keeps my fingers limber.”
Anyone with new holiday cards they would like to contribute or who would like to help cover postage costs can reach Dale at (813) 215-1045.