Things To Do

Valentines for Soldiers: Send Your Love (and Baked Goods) to Our Troops

Although Christmas and New Year's Eve are right around the corner, we're already thinking of Valentine's Day here at Eating Our Words. And that's because this year's Valentines For Soldiers event on Monday, January 16, is going to be bigger and better than ever.

Last year, the turnout for the annual crafting event at Anvil was almost larger than the venue could handle as thoughtful Houstonians turned out in droves to make cards, pack baked goods into boxes, fill out USPS forms and drop off their own donations of edible treats for soldiers in Afghanistan. So this year, the group behind Valentines for Soldiers -- which includes former EOW contributors Nishta Mehra, Ruthie Johnson, Amber Ambrose and local baker Rebecca Masson -- has upped the ante.

This year's event will be held at the Saint Arnold brewery in its vast main hall, which means plenty of open seating and, of course, beer.

To raise money for the expensive shipping costs of getting all the boxes to Afghanistan, a pay-what-you-can bake sale will also be held at the same time. Baked goods from at-home bakers will be for sale alongside elaborate treats from professional bakeries like Fluff Bake Bar.

In addition to money raised by the bake sale, food trucks H-Town StrEATs and Eatsie Boys will be on site selling savory goods and donating a portion of the proceeds to the shipping fund. And because there's also a brewery tour going on that evening, Saint Arnold will be giving $5 from every tour ticket sold that day to the cause.

Valentines For Soldiers will take place from 6 to 9 p.m. on January 16, and there are plenty of ways to help that don't involve donating money or buying food. Come out and make greeting cards for the soldiers, bring craft supplies to help others, or simply provide the address of a soldier serving in Afghanistan who'd like to receive a care package for himself and his unit.

Although the United States is scheduled to pull 33,000 troops out of Afghanistan by the end of 2012, don't forget that number only represents one-third of the American presence in the country. There will still be nearly 70,000 soldiers serving there next year, and Valentines For Soliders wants to make sure that at least a few dozen of those get a card and some cookies this Valentine's Day.

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Katharine Shilcutt