Seffner resident Melissa Sullivan and her daughter, Madelyn, spent a day making cards for the Annual Cards for the Troops event. Photo by Jennifer Silverstein.


Everyone loves to send and receive holiday cards, especially at Christmas. For the troops serving in Iraq and Afghanistan, there is no neighborhood card shop. On Saturday, October 8, come out to Center Place and join hundreds of others and make holiday cards that will be sent to the troops.

The Fourth Annual Holiday Cards for Troops strives to provide members of the military with beautifully decorated holiday cards that they can send home to their friends and loved ones.

Holiday Cards for Troops was started by Jeri Fontana, a retired member of the military and a Stampin’ Up! demonstrator. Fontana made the cards on a small scale for several years often paying for the supplies herself.

In 2008, then Honorary Mayor Tammy Holmberg, co-owner of Chick-fil-A at Lake Brandon Village, adopted the event as one of her mayor’s events and wanted to include the community. Holmberg said, “Jeri was thrilled with the idea but did not know how to get it started, so we decided to work together and see how many cards we could make in one day.”

The first Holiday Cards for Troops truly involved the community. In just seven hours, 175 volunteers made more than 1,200 cards. The next year, 2,300 cards with 120 volunteers were made. Last year, 2,900 cards were made with the help of more than 150 volunteers.

This year, the event will be held at Center Place, located at 619 Vonderburg Dr. in Brandon. The goal is to make 3,000 cards. Volunteers and attendees must be 16 years and older as there will be no childcare or activities. Snacks and beverages will be provided by Chick-Fil-A at Lake Brandon Village, Beef ‘O’ Brady’s (Bell Shoals) and Mimi’s Cafe.

The Fourth Annual Holiday Cards for Troops is sponsored by Center Place, the Community Roundtable, Brandon South Rotary, the Osprey Observer, Valrico State Bank, Platinum Bank, Chick-Fil-A at Lake Brandon and Kappa Kappa.

Dawn Galia, executive director of Center Place said, “We are co-sponsoring the event with the Community Roundtable. Since we are a fine arts center, this is the perfect event for Center Place.”

Each card costs approximately $1 per card. Anyone can help by making a monetary donation or volunteering or attending the event. For more information, please contact Dawn Galia at 685-888 or at


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