Cupid wasn’t the only one working overtime this past Valentine’s Day. Gold Star mother and artist Kathryn Cross and U-Haul teamed up to fulfill a love-themed Tribute Journey that covered 2,140 miles across seven states in February.
Cross visited nine hospital facilities covering all branches of service as well as the Armed Forces Retirement Home in Washington, D.C.
Tribute Journeys are expressions of appreciation for our veterans and current military service members. This is achieved through the hand delivery of custom-made greeting cards. Illustrations and poetic verses are crafted by Cross, while the cards are printed at U-Haul headquarters in Phoenix.
Tribute Journey Impact
U-Haul sponsors Cross and, with the assistance of U-Haul Team Members along the way, more than 4,500 greeting cards and Valentine’s goodies made it to veterans and military service members. Thanks also went to hundreds of hospital staff members. Each U-Haul company joining Cross on the Tribute Journey made its own specific Valentine’s Day goody bags to hand out.
“Though the Valentine Tribute Journey was only a week long, it was incredibly successful,” Cross says. “I am so proud of all the fantastic U-Haul Team Members who joined me on this journey. Thank you for your incredible kindness and generosity. What we do seems to matter so much to everyone involved. You all made a world of difference this past week.”
Cross has been making cards for veterans since 2009, a labor of love she began in the memory of her son, OSSN Tyler J. Connely, who gave his life for his country. Cross began the Tribute Journey to communicate to service members, past and present, that we will not forget them.
“A very special thank you to our veterans and service members wherever you may be,” Cross adds. “May you always know that the service and the sacrifices you make each and every day for us is never forgotten and always appreciated.”
U-Haul has partnered with Cross since the annual Tribute Journey began, printing and delivering more than 200,000 cards every year to veterans around the world. Additionally, U-Haul Team Members volunteer with Gold Star mothers in handing out cards at hospitals across the U.S. and Canada. Cards also go to Navy ships at sea.
U-Haul Companies Pitch In
The U-Haul Companies of Tidewater, South Atlantic Coast, Richmond, Metro D.C. and Maryland teamed up with Cross to greet and thank veterans in their respective regions.
“As former military, Jackie Graham and I appreciated the opportunity to join Kathryn in extending our gratitude to our vets, their families and caregivers,” Michelle Campbell, executive assistant for UHC of Tidewater, says. “We could see the joy and happiness our visits brought to their day.”
“What an incredible experience!” exclaims Matt McCoy, UHC of South Atlantic Coast president. “It was awesome to see all the smiling faces as we thanked our servicemen, servicewomen and their families.”
U-Haul marketing company presidents Amanda Kirsch (Metro D.C.) and Allen Laine (Maryland) were equally moved.
“It is always an honor to be a part of these events,” Kirsch says. “To see the smiles on the veterans’ faces is priceless and heartwarming. Working with Kathryn is always an honor and joy.”
Laine adds: “We know how much these brave men and women have sacrificed to serve our country. It’s my team’s honor to be able to thank them personally. One of the many highlights of visiting our vets was having the opportunity to hear a few of their stories. It truly was an amazing experience for my team and me.”
Finally, thanks to the U-Haul Team Members who pitched in to make the Valentine’s-themed Tribute Journey a success.