This is an archived article and the information in the article may be outdated. Please look at the time stamp on the story to see when it was last updated.

STOW, Ohio (WJW) – Operation Valentine’s Day is already underway in Stow where a Purple Heart recipient is collecting handwritten letters and cards for troops deployed overseas.

It’s the latest mission of Stow City Council president and Iraq War veteran Jeremy McIntire, who just relaunched the third annual Operation Valentine’s Day.

Supporters are encouraged to write handwritten letters, notes or cards to service members.

“We gathered or collected over 12,000 valentines to send to troops overseas,” said McIntire of the original launch in 2020.

McIntire said opening mail from someone who cares is especially heartwarming, knowing the dangers troops face every day while deployed.

“We were in a vehicle that was hit by a roadside bomb,” said McIntire who served as a sergeant in the Army. “When you’re serving in a combat zone, as much as you’re thinking about wanting to get back home, really what you’re thinking about is the guy to your left and to your right.”

Since starting the annual tradition this week, McIntire says more than 300 letters have already been collected, which will serve as a needed boost of morale to troops who can sometimes go weeks without hearing from loved ones and little to no access to phones.

Supporters are asked to drop off unsealed letters at Stow City Hall before Jan. 29. All letters will be pre-screened for safety before being sent overseas.

McIntire said a few words of encouragement and thanks inside the note is the perfect way to help ensure troops feel connected to home and supported. He encouraged classes, church organizations, boy and girl scout troops, among other organizations to send a group photo along with their note.

“These brave men and women have answered the call to serve their country,” he said. “We’re just asking people back home to answer the call. Just send them some sort of thanks. With Valentine’s Day, what better holiday to let someone know you’re thinking of them?”

The drop box is at the front desk of the atrium at Stow City Hall on Darrow Road. It’s open Monday through Friday between 8:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. Another drop box will be at 1904 Baker Ln., Stow.