By Kathy L. Collins

Center Place Fine Arts and the Community Roundtable present the 10th Annual Holiday Cards For The Troops on Saturday, October 7 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Center Place, located at 619 Vonderburg Dr. in Brandon.

Members of the community, 16 years and older, can come together to assemble thousands of cards which will be sent to deployed service men and women. No experience is necessary, and this is a free community event.

The non-profit Support the Troops, located in Wesley Chapel, helps to distribute the cards. To celebrate the 10th Anniversary of Holiday Cards For Troops the committee is requesting donations to add to care packages sent to the troops. The top five most requested items include beef jerky, disposable razors, ground coffee (no pods), toothpaste and new white athletic socks. Items can be dropped off at Center Place Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., or you can bring them with you to the event.

Holiday Cards For The Troops was started in 2008 by Jeri Fontana, a retired member of the military and a Stampin’ Up demonstrator. Fontana made the cards on a small scale and often personally bore the cost of the event.

In 2008, then Honorary Mayor of Brandon, Tammy Holmberg, co-owner of the Chick-fil-A at Lake Brandon Village, teamed up with Fontana to get the community more involved and to get many more cards made in one day. It turned out to be a huge success.

In 2011, the event was moved to Center Place where it has been held ever since. Now, nearly 3,000 cards are made by more than 120 volunteers.

Carole Stanton is the Chair of the Annual Holiday Cards For The Troops. Stanton said, “To date nearly 25,000 cards have been created and sent to the troops. It is like 25,000 hugs and smiles coming out of those little envelopes.”

If you would like to be a sponsor, make a monetary or Top Five donation or get more information on the Annual Holiday Cards For The Troops, please contact Center Place at 685-8888 or email

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