Web smarts

WHAT: When US troops were deployed to Afghanistan, the New York-based Oppenheim Toy Portfolio launched an art and letter campaign, urging children to send appreciative greetings to service members and boost their morale. Acknowledging that children can feel helpless in a crisis of such magnitude, the site is designed to promote kids' sense of contribution to the war effort, in the tradition of the patriotic homefront of World War II. When anthrax showed up in the mail, postal shipments no longer seemed practical. So, in a tech-savvy move, the company came up with a "virtual mailbag" for kids to fill on the Web.

BEST POINTS: Once they create an account to upload their artwork, children - and adults - can send drawings or messages to troops, firefighters, police, or emergency-service workers. There are postings from those who have just learned to draw and from those who've been writing for decades. Greetings range from fun to fervent, poetic invocations such as "Keep your head up high. Just like balloons up in the sky."

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW: The messages are organized by state and date, in bright shades of red and blue. There's also a free screensaver of children's patriotic art, available for downloading. To post art on the site, you'll first need to make it a .jpg or .gif computer file.

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