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Each box also included a handwritten postcard, which visitors and volunteers were encouraged to write.

Shannon Stinson, 27, said she started her letter “Dear hero,” because as a former military spouse, she understood what those words can mean for someone overseas.

“I wanted to thank them for their sacrifice and let them know I am thinking about them,” she said. “It lets them know we care.”

As he waited for the next wave of volunteers at the Armory, Gary Renville, vice president for the HandsOn Network, said the service day was not intended to be a “done-in-a-day kind of thing.”

His group is part of the overarching Points of Light organization, which started after President George H.W. Bush’s comments in 1990 on volunteers as a “thousand points of light.”

The hope for the day was to show people that opportunities exist for service 365 days a year, Mr. Renville said.

“Whatever your passion, whether it’s youth or the economy, there’s something for everybody to do,” he added. “This is a start to the service year.”