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An incentive to write

The average day is so infused with electronic communication that handwritten letters can seem especially rare. One of the most treasured handwritten letters a person can receive is that which is written by a U.S. military member stationed overseas. Even more gratifying is being a U.S. military member receiving a special reason to write that letter. Woodcraft is helping these things happen with its annual Turn for Troops program.

Woodcraft conducts and annual Veterans Day Turn for Troops program to help provide soldiers a reminder that people back home remember and appreciate their efforts.

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In November, Woodcraft stores nationwide hosted their sixth annual Veterans Day Turn for Troops Pen Turn-a-thon Program. Store customers, mainly woodworking enthusiasts, turned pens that will be sent to American service personnel actively deployed overseas in Iraq and Afghanistan and to soldiers in rehabilitation programs and hospitals in the U.S.

"The whole point of this program was to give service members a pen so they would have an incentive to write home and let their family and loved ones know how they're doing," says Peter Parker, Woodcraft's administrator for the Turn for Troops program.

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"It really means a lot to them to know that somebody back home cares about them and sends something. The people that turn them sometimes write personalized notes and, if not, we'll write them here and let them know we're thinking of them"

Parker says that the Woodcraft corporate office in Parkersburg, W.Va., purchases the pen kits through Berea Hardwoods Co. in Middleburg Heights, Ohio, and donates them to the various Woodcraft franchises throughout the country.

Originally, the idea came from a franchise store manager who'd been approached by a local group turning pens for troops overseas. From there, Woodcraft doubled its efforts and started Turn for Troops and now sends the completed kits to various units overseas.

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Woodcraft has more than 80 franchises nationwide that participated in the turn-a-thon. Many of the pens were turned by first-time pen turners, from Cub Scouts to World War II veterans. Several stores, including one in Nashville, Tenn., and another in Jacksonville, Fla., which have been working on this project throughout the year, crafted more than 2,000 pens apiece.

The program has produced about 60,000 pens in six years. For information, visit

This article originally appeared in the January 2010 issue.

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