Daily Journal staff report

BRADLEY — Every year, Connie Wietrzykowski, of Bradley, writes Christmas cards for U.S. troops overseas. This year, she significantly increased the number.

For this Christmas, she turned in 7,300, more than last year’s 4,600, a nearly 60 percent increase.

“I do the cards after work during commercial breaks watching ‘General Hospital’ and ‘Charlie’s Angels,’” Wietrzykowski said. “I wrote a message in each Christmas card.”

In one card, she wrote, “We would like to thank you with all of our hearts for a job well done, keeping us out of harm’s way. There are not enough words to say how much you are appreciated for the service you do for us here at home.”

Wietrzykowski and her husband, Tom Vince Wietrzykowski, who served in the National Guard, bundle the cards in groups of 50, then place them in cardboard boxes that once packaged fries, tortillas and hotcakes for McDonald’s in Bradley, where she has worked for two decades.

Wietrzykowski delivers the cards to a representative of a group that coordinates such deliveries.

She said her effort is made possible through the help of a lot of people, including members of Trinity United Methodist Church, McDonald’s customers and even those she does not know who want to help.

Wietrzykowski also said she appreciated U.S. Rep. Robin Kelly, D-Matteson, who flew a flag over the Capitol in Wietrzykowski’s honor.

“I was very surprised and did not expect anything in return. I do this with all my heart, and I care for our soldiers with all of my heart,” Wietrzykowski said.

She plans a Christmas card effort again next year.

When people ask Wietrzykowski when she’ll quit the Christmas card project, she tells them, “I’ll do this until my fingers won’t let me.”

For more information on how to donate to the effort, call Wietrzykowski at 815-933-1141.

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