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Cards for Troops

posted on Nov 30 2006 0 Comments


Jerry Moore needs cards — lots of playing cards.
“I need 70,000 decks next year,” he said.
Moore, a 62-year-old Madison Heights resident, isn’t starting his own casino. He gathers up discarded casino playing cards — which come to him unsorted — and delivers them to area seniors, who put them in order and pack them up for the troops.
Moore stressed, “I need all the cards they want to give up and then some.”
Last year, a friend introduced Moore to a contact at Operation Gratitude, a Van Nuys, Calif.-based nonprofit agency that sends care packages to the troops.
Moore, an Air Force veteran from the Vietnam era, learned the group was hoping to find a way to add a deck of playing cards to each of its shipments.
“I figured they would need 250,000 decks,” he said. “I thought it would never happen.”
When his ailing brother wanted to play the slots in Casino Windsor, Moore met the communications coordinator for the casino. She mentioned it was her job to dispense used playing cards to charity.
Moore, who works as a computer programmer,  learned blackjack table cards are turned over every four hours. They are marked with a special pen and their corners are clipped so they cannot be used again at the table.
Moore asked if he could have some of the cards, and the casino officials gave him thousands.
The cards were in boxes, but there could be 15 aces in one pack. Moore put his family and friends to work sorting the cards.
He came up with a method for quicker sorting: One person sorts by suits, and then another sorts by denomination. Another person walks along and peels off one deck and finally a checker looks over each completed deck and puts it in a box.
Moore and friends worked several weekends last fall.
“But we realized we needed help,” he said.
Someone suggested high school students from Macomb County.
They took care of 10 cases, but then casino officials told Moore gambling paraphernalia couldn’t be given to people under 19.
“So I thought, ‘How about senior citizens?’ ” Moore said.
He had contacts with personnel at the Madison Heights’ Solberg Senior apartments. Last November, he dropped off cards for the seniors to sort.
The idea spread. Soon American House franchises came on board, Moore said.
He now has 32 senior housing locations where residents are sorting cards.
Betty Mazzoline, 74, of the American House Village in Rochester Hills, got involved.
“Instead of us residents sitting there looking at each other, we sort,” she said.
Mazzoline — who had brothers and cousins serve in World War II — keeps track of the cards.
The seniors even have dropped a note into each pack to let them know where the cards are coming from.
“We all enjoy (the sorting) because we know it’s for the boys,” she said. “They appreciate our effort.”
Moore calls his effort Cards for Troops.
“I’d never done anything for veterans,” he said. “Seniors love it. Activity directors have told me it’s therapeutic.”
Moore even had a senior stop him one day to thank him. “She told me her hands don’t shake as much since she started sorting,” Moore said.
Casino Windsor is renovating, and that’s affected Moore’s process.
“Their table games are down, and I’ve had a slowdown of cards,” he said.
After just sending out large shipments to Operation Gratitude this month, he knows his seniors are going to be clamoring for more work.
“To some of the people, this is like a job,” he said.
Moore praises the 400 seniors who have volunteered to help him.
“They’ve touched me with their dedication,” he said.
“I think of them as much as I do the troops. Without them, this never would have happened.”
He knows the request for 70,000 decks next year is high — but he and his sorters have sent out nearly 66,000 this year alone. This November, Federal Express got involved and sent a shipment to California for free, Moore said.
“It’s a big number, and the casinos may laugh, but I need it in the worst way,” he said.
Carol Hopkins
The Oakland Press


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