(CNN) -- Amid concerns about terrorism and mail threats in a post-September 11 world, two organizations and hundreds of volunteers have stepped in to make sure wounded U.S. troops receive some much-needed holiday cheer.
Volunteers screen holiday cards and letters that will go to wounded U.S. troops.
More than 100 volunteers gathered in Washington on Saturday to sift through about 180,000 cards and letters sent to recovering soldiers and Marines.
The messages are from perfect strangers -- Americans wishing the troops a speedy recovery and thanking them for their service.
"Dear soldiers," one card reads. "I'm sorry you got hurt in the war. Thank you for keeping us safe and our country."
Messages like these, however, were in jeopardy of not reaching their intended recipients.
The U.S. Postal Service stopped delivering letters without a specific addressee because of concerns they could contain threats -- or something even more hazardous, such as anthrax.
Enter the American Red Cross and Pitney Bowes Government Solutions. The two organizations joined together with the support of the Department of Defense and Walter Reed Army Medical Center to make sure wounded troops receive the good wishes.
Pitney Bowes screens the mail for potential biohazards and ships it. Red Cross volunteers receive, open and bundle the cards, and volunteers at medical facilities deliver them throughout the holiday season. Watch how the cards affect the volunteers »
"Everything that we want to send to the soldiers is uplifting and a very positive message, and that's what we're doing here," said Neal Denton, the Red Cross senior vice president for service to the armed forces.
Some of the volunteers include members of the military who know how important such messages can be to the men and women serving overseas.
"It really does touch your heart when you see and you realize how many people support the soldiers, the sailors, the Marines and the airmen that are over there," said Army Col. Dennis Doyle.
The volunteers are touched by the messages as well, particularly those from children.
Other volunteers say they're helping sort the mail as a way to honor their own loved ones in the military. Boy Scout Matthew Oclander, 14, said it's a Christmas present for his father, who is in Iraq.
"I think it's really special, and it's the least I could do for him," Oclander said.
One card -- decorated with a smiley face and a heart -- says, "Thank you for serving our country. Merry Christmas and stay safe. Your friend, Amy."
Others are sent by adults who want the wounded soldiers to know that they are in the minds and hearts of many this season.
Cards can be postmarked through December 24, but must be received no later than December 27. Cards received after that date will be returned to the sender, the Red Cross said.
Well-wishers should use adequate postage. Multiple cards without envelopes may be placed in one mailing envelope or a box that includes a return address.
No packages can be accepted for security reasons -- only cards and notes, the Red Cross said. The organization also asked senders not to use glitter or other inserts that wouldn't be appropriate in a hospital. E-mail to a friend
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