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'Love isn't canceled': Ardmore veterans receive hundreds of Valentine's this year

Sierra Rains
The Daily Ardmoreite
A board filled with the names of residents at the Ardmore Veterans Center. The recreation department put up the board earlier in February.

Valentine’s cards with messages of love and support began flooding into the Ardmore Veterans Center well before the holiday this year, around three weeks ago. 

Ardmore Veterans Center Programs Administrator Keri Honea said they had already received four different groups of Valentine's on Thursday and had more on the way— enough for each resident to receive at least two Valentine’s Day gifts. 

One family member brought teddy bears for the entire unit her husband lives in, and many other families also sent cards to their relatives who they haven’t been able to see in person for some time. Visitations have been limited since a mid-December lock down amid an outbreak of COVID-19. 

Honea said some families have found ways to FaceTime or video chat with their relatives at the center. Still, the isolation can be lonely for veterans, and receiving Valentine's cards or mail is a welcome surprise. “They are very appreciative of all the cards and gifts,” Honea said. 

Some local schools and churches also banded together to help show veterans a little love by crafting them Valentine's cards. Individuals from Americans Adopt a Solider, an organization that sends care packages and cards to active duty service members and veterans at centers across the nation, and Campfire Girls, a youth development organization, also contributed to the cards. 

“It warms their hearts to know that someone is thinking about them enough to send cards,” Honea said. “They always enjoy receiving mail.” Some of the cards that came in before the holiday were passed out to veterans earlier in the week, and the rest were handed out on Saturday. 

The recreation department also arranged some activities to help the veterans feel loved, and put up decorations around the center. One board contained every residents name in a heart, with the message "Love isn't canceled." 

On the morning of Feb. 12, staff passed out donuts, coffee and hot chocolate at a special Valentine’s Day party planned in the Recreation Hall. 

Honea said the party was organized with social distancing and COVID-19 precautions in mind. After a long year of isolation and an uncertain time for many families with relatives at the center, Honea said the holiday was a perfect occasion to remind veterans that they are valued and loved. 

“It’s important to show the veterans a little love since they put their life on the line and gave their everything for our nation,” Honea said. “They are the reason for our freedoms.”