(13 NEWS (FL) 15 NOV 09)
LAKEWOOD RANCH -- A Manatee County mother's plan to send her son a holiday card while he serves overseas has grown into something much larger.
Karen Bonanno's 19-year-old son, Vincent, is in the U.S. Navy, serving aboard the U.S.S. Nimitz in the Indian Ocean. Her son was supposed to be home for the holidays, but his deployment was extended.
Since Vincent will be overseas, Bonanno, along with the group Navy for Moms, decided to send cards to him and his strike group.
That gesture grew to include even more military men and women -- but when she notified the Navy about her plans, she got some shocking news.
"The Navy has decided that we need to do this for entire strike fleet, not just the Nimitz," Bonanno said.
That meant she needed to send out more than 10,000 cards.
So Bonanno, who works at Nolan Middle School, in Lakewood Ranch, turned to the Manatee County School District for help.
Within a few days, she received thousands of homemade cards for sailors, plus a lot of help sorting them, thanks to Navy for Moms, and all of the mothers involved in the group.
Bonanno said that while the cards will mean a lot to the men and women who are protecting our country, they are special to her as well.
"We can't be there to hold them or hug them for the holidays, but knowing we've sent this will put a little bit of joy in their lives for the holiday, and that means a lot," she said.
The cards were mailed early, because they had to be sent by Nov. 13 to make it to the sailors in time for Christmas.