‘Tis the season. I’ll just bet the aisles of the local stores are stuffed, along with most of the folks who feel like they never want to see another slice of turkey or hear the question, apple or pumpkin?

It’s also the season for scams. My heart goes out to people with part of their family absent this holiday season. It sure can put a damper on everything, as I remember too well. I don’t know many of the local younger folk who are serving in the military, but I know the School Board has been absent Toby Pennell for a long time, and the Zoning Board has an empty chair while ZBA volunteer Michael Stultz is overseas.

So far, I’ve received at least a half-dozen messages on my e-mail about sending cards to recovering soldiers at Walter Reed Army Hospital. Naturally, I opened this message, the first time it arrived, since it was sent by my former roommate and Windham neighbor. She’s an old soft-hearted person just like I am, and as I read this plea to add one more name to my Christmas card list, I thought it was a great idea.

Then I got the same message from one of my relatives, followed shortly (within minutes) with a notation that this was a scam.

So I checked scam headquarters – snopes.com, and sure enough it is not all it appears to be.

If you get a message urging you to add a wounded soldier’s name to your holiday card list, and send cards to Walter Reed, here’s what the hospital’s Web site warns:

“Walter Reed Army Medical Center officials want to remind those individuals who want to show their appreciation through mail to include packages, letters, and holiday cards addressed to ‘Any Wounded Soldier’ or ‘A Recovering American Soldier’ that Walter Reed cannot accept these packages in support of the decision by then-Deputy Undersecretary of Defense for Transportation Policy in 2001. This decision was made to ensure the safety and well-being of patients and staff at medical centers throughout the Department of Defense.”

In addition, the U.S. Postal Service is no longer accepting “Any Service Member” or “A Recovering American Soldier” letters or packages. Mail to “Any Service Member” that is deposited into a collection box will not be delivered.

Instead of sending an “Any Wounded Soldier” letter or package to Walter Reed, please consider making a donation to one of the more than 300 nonprofit organizations dedicated to helping our troops and their families listed on the “America Supports You” Web site, www.americasupportsyou.mil

Other organizations that offer means of showing your support for our troops or assist wounded service members and their families include:

www.usocares.org/

www4.army.mil/ocpa/tooursoldiers/

www.redcross.org

I’m sure that this is the first of many holiday season opportunities which will bear investigation. I expect by now there will be cinnamon-scented pine cones, glitter galore and all the orange and brown Thanksgiving candy will be discarded into the 75 percent off bin, to be replaced by red and green and silver.

‘Tis the season to be careful.

See you next week.


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