91-year-old receives award for sending cards to troops
Brig. Gen. Donald MacWillie, senior commander, Fort Riley, left, escorts 91-year-old Marie Cundiff, Junction City, right, back to her seat after receiving the Helping Hand Award Jan. 29 at Riley’s Conference Center. Cundiff handwrote and mailed hundreds of cards and letters to Fort Riley Soldiers. Photo by: Calun Reece, POST.
Story by: Calun Reece
1ST INF. DIV. POST
What may seem like a simple act often goes a long way in supporting Soldiers, and one local volunteer was recently recognized for just that.
"By sending these cards … You give (Soldiers) encouragement," said 91-year old Marie Cundiff, Junction City. "It's not going to make them happy when they're hurt, but it's going to help."
Cundiff received the Helping Hand Award Jan. 29 at the post's Volunteer of the Quarter ceremony for donating time handwriting and mailing hundreds of cards and letters to Fort Riley Soldiers, said Becky Willis, Army installation volunteer coordinator, Army Community Service.
Cundiff was one of about 100 volunteers recognized at Riley's Conference Center that evening. Volunteers contributed about 14,000 hours combined in service to other people and organizations.
Though she received the quarterly award, Cundiff said she has sought to encourage and serve Soldiers throughout her whole life.
"I started out when I was young selling poppies and doing everything I can for the military because I love the military," Cundiff said, adding her Family was military from the time I was a little girl.
Sending letters began, Cundiff said, after she saw wounded Soldiers at a Veteran Affairs hospital at a young age.
"I was probably 12 … But a man asked if I'd like to see around (the hospital)," she said. "Well, being a young girl, that really hurt."
Cundiff found out one of the Soldiers would be there for the rest of his life.
"That was the worst," she said.
Seeing the Soldiers at the hospital that day was an eye-opening experience for her, she said, and it led her to the idea of sending cards and letters to Soldiers during their time of need.
"I don't care what you get in the mail, there's nothing like having a card with your name on it," she said. "And these guys just really enjoy them. I've had some young (men) come back and tell me how much they appreciated it."
Though Cundiff has been writing letters to Soldiers throughout her life, she said she is not planning on quitting anytime soon.
"I'm 91 years old, (but) you know what, I can still write them," she said. "Maybe they can't read the cards – I don't know whether they can read my writing, but I still send them."
Cundiff said she is grateful for the service and sacrifice of Fort Riley Soldiers.
"You know why? We wouldn't be here if it weren't for our Soldiers," she said.
"We should be very thankful for our military," she added. "I am."