Red Cross offers connections for military families

Posted: Thursday, December 11, 2003

The holidays may be just a little brighter for Kenai Peninsula military families this Christmas.

Their loved ones may not be coming home, but with the help of the American Red Cross and the Internet, families will be able to pay them a visit.

For two days only, with the use of a standard Web cam and a high-speed modem, families will be able to send a two-minute video directly overseas to their soldiers.

"Project Video Connect" will be from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Friday and from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday at the Red Cross office in the Bridges Building at 145 Kasilof St. in Soldotna.

There is no fee for this service.

According to the Red Cross, the program was developed by America Online and Hewlett Packard as a way to unite families separated by war and peacekeeping efforts.

With such a short video time, families are encouraged to come prepared with things to talk about.

"But don't worry if you can't think of things because we will provide a list of topics to help you," said Annette Hakkinen of the Soldotna chapter of the American Red Cross.

"Families will need to have a direct e-mail address, but videos can be saved until an address can be obtained," said Verna Cunning-ton, health and safety coordinator of the Mat-Su chapter of the Red Cross.

"There can be 'do-overs,' too," Cunnington said. "It happens because people get emotional. It is hard for families to be so far apart in dangerous places. When we get a video people like, we just hit the save button."

Interested military families need to schedule an appointment. To do so or for more information, call Hakkinen at 262-4541.

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