By Colleen Flaherty
Fort Hood Herald
As Valentine's Day approaches, the Main and Warrior Way Exchanges are offering a simple way for patrons to spread the love to veterans.
At the entrances to both stores, a red and pink Valentines for Veterans table holds free, blank valentines for shoppers to fill out and drop in an accompanying mailbox. There's also a bin for patrons to donate toiletries and treats.
Before Valentine's Day, the cards will be collected and packaged with several donated items. The care packages will be delivered by Feb. 14 to local veterans hospitals and Fisher Houses for families of hospitalized warriors and veterans.
All cards and donations must be received by Feb. 7.
The exchange needs a variety of food and non-food items for the Valentines for Veterans program, including shaving and oral hygiene products; entertainment media, such as playing cards, puzzle books and music CDs; and low-calorie snacks and drink mixes.
A full list of useful items is available on the program display table at the store.
People have been donating to the program since it began late last month, Main Exchange greeter Gail Dayment said.
"It's a good thing, I think," she said. "I use the VA myself, because I'm a veteran."
Dayment served in the Army for 17 years. Other veterans have also noticed the program, she said.
"They've come in and said, 'It's about time.'"
Master Sgt. Barbara Tyler, 4th Sustainment Brigade, stopped by the Main Exchange to do some shopping last week and noticed the table on her way out.
After 23 years in the Army and three deployments, she said, she can attest to the value of year-round community support.
Veterans tend to receive more attention around the December holidays, she said, but appreciate it all the time.
"It boosts morale," she said.
Contact Colleen Flaherty at firstname.lastname@example.org or (254) 501-7559. Follow her on Twitter at KDHfeatures.