Residents at The Bridges, located off Bloomingdale Ave., recently sent 438 cards to troops overseas.

Earlier this month, with the holiday season in full swing, residents at The Bridges Assisted Living Community were eager to send some cheer to troops serving in the military overseas.

The Bridges Activities Director Coleen Mercilliott knew exactly how to get this done. With stacks of Christmas cards that had been donated over the years, Mercilliott scheduled several “card writing sessions” for residents to attend. Over the course of several days, residents were busy writing and signing cards.

Knowing that Mission BBQ in Brandon collected and sent holiday cards to the military overseas, Mercilliott contacted Crystal Haytasingh, community ambassador at Mission BBQ. A partnership was soon formed as Haytasingh received 438 Christmas cards prepared by residents at The Bridges.

According to Haytasingh, Mission BBQ collects and sends hundreds of cards to Heartillery Group, a nonprofit organization whose mission is to show support, love and gratitude to U.S. troops overseas in simple ways (cards and care packages).

“Thus far this year, we have collected and sent 1,124 cards,” reported Haytasingh.

When the pandemic struck, students, churches, women’s groups and individuals in the community mailed hundreds of letters and cards to residents at The Bridges.

“We were overwhelmed with the kindness of people in our community who thoughtfully sent notes of support to our residents,” stated Mercilliott. “When residents were given the opportunity to show kindness and support to our troops, they were thrilled to give back and send some cheer to those serving our country.”

The Bridges Retirement Community in Riverview is dedicated to providing healthcare and housing for the elderly. The Bridges features assisted living and memory care residences with all amenities on a beautiful campus off of Bloomingdale Ave.

To learn more about The Bridges, located at 11202 Dewhurst Dr., call 413-8900 or visit

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