Oak Park resident Kamil Brady has been thinking a lot about an old poker buddy, called FBI John. Brady said John was a staple at a local VFW in Iowa, where she lived before moving back to Oak Park several years ago.

After John died, Brady, an event planner, began looking for some good to do. The search led her to a Red Cross project called Holiday Mail for Heroes, which involved citizens throwing parties during which they made cards to be delivered to a local Red Cross. 

After the program discontinued, Red Cross officials encouraged them to keep making the birthday and holiday cards and find a location at which to drop them. Brady eventually decided on the VA.

“John would often go to the local VA Hospital in Iowa,” she said at the Oak Park Public Library, where she made a few dozen cards to drop off at Hines VA Hospital in nearby Maywood.

Over the last year, she has hosted a card-making party about once a month, where around 100 volunteers have made nearly 600 cards — for birthdays, Valentine’s Day and Christmas — which Brady drops off in the lobby of the massive hospital. 

“I work at Hines VA and I will tell you, these cards make a difference,” said one Hines employee in a thank-you letter sent to Brady. “They put such smiles on our veterans; many don’t have families local or have been dismissed by them. Thank you for doing what you do for our nation’s heroes!”

Michael Romain

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