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Remembering Our Troops!

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A number of us in my Church prayer group began a conversation about our deployed troops when the conversation about them switched to, “is anyone doing anything for them for Christmas this year?” We all looked at one another and the expressions on our faces pretty much answered that question. All of us leapt from our chairs and headed over to the computer and began to look up info about sending packages to our troops.

Care packages bring some of the comforts of home to our troops, even when they are thousands of miles away. While the military does provide them with “basics” for every day living, they are left to their own for their personal care items and any special treats. Myself, having two brothers who served our country, I know that the salaries these soldiers receive are not much. In my opinion, that is a high price to pay when it comes to OUR freedom! By sending a care package during the holidays – or any time – you truly can make their lives more enjoyable while they are protecting OUR freedom!

In this post, we will provide you with instructions on how to send a care package, how to pack one, how to address it, and also a list of things they are in need of and things you can NOT send. If you do not personally know of a soldier, we also have listed some websites where you can “adopt” a soldier, mail your care package to military service organizations, or even send a cash donation if you are unable to do the shopping and shipping yourself. These organizations will use your monetary donation to purchase needed items and will ship them out first to those soldiers on their lists that have NO FAMILY to write or send them things, and then work through the list according to need.

A list of recommended and needed items follows this post.  Please be sure to print a copy of this list so you’ll have it with you for your next trip to the store!

So let’s get started on this, shall we?

SENDING YOUR CARE PACKAGE:

If sending a care package is something you would like to do, there are a few things you need to know about doing this. I have broken this process down for ease.

PACKAGING SUPPLIES:

Before you rush out to the store to purchase packing supplies, you should know that the U.S. Postal Service offers FREE SUPPLIES to families preparing care packages for service members overseas. They call it their “Mili-kit” and it includes the following:

• Two Priority Mail APO/FPO/DPO flat-rate boxes
• Two Priority Mail medium flat-rate boxes
• Priority Mail tape
• Priority Mail address labels
• Appropriate customs forms

The use of the post office flat-rate boxes serves two purposes:
1. The size of the boxes conforms to the size requirements for overseas military package deliveries.
2. They make postage very affordable.

To get the “Mili-kit”, call the USPS Expedited Package Supply Center at 1-800-610-8734 then press option 1 for Priority Mail supplies. (You can order from their website but it will take approximately two weeks for the supplies to arrive.)

PACKING THE BOXES
The box should be full but not overly so. Don’t over pack the box to the point it might break. At the same time, you don’t want the items inside to move around but if they do, add more bubble wrap to prevent/reduce any damage.

ADDRESSING THE BOXES:
When addressing your care package, prepare TWO address labels. Be sure you include the following on the address labels:
1. Service member’s full name
2. His/Her unit and APO/FPO/DPO information;
3. The nine-digit zip code, if one is assigned.
4. Place the extra mailing label with this same info INSIDE the box, as well as the one on the outside. In case the package becomes damaged or the label becomes unreadable in transit, it still has a chance to get where it’s going if there is an address label inside the box.
5. Try to mail care packages as early as possible before the holidays. If you can’t, mail it/them anyway. It’s always nice to get something regardless of it being a holiday or not.

CARE PACKAGES FOR “ANY SOLDIER”
You can no longer send a care package addressed to “Any Soldier” or “Any Service Member” anymore. In years past, you could wrap up a care package and mail it to “Any Service Member” for the holidays, but with increased mail restrictions, the Pentagon is asking people to help through creating their own care packages, making financial contributions, by letter-writing and e-mail, purchasing authorized pre-made care packages, or volunteering time through non-profit organizations.

If you don’t know anyone in the military, you can still help.

There are many organizations out there that allow you to sponsor a service member or make a donation to fund care packages for our troops. These charitable organizations help send gifts, cards, and care packages to our military members.  Here is a list of our Department of Defense’s recommended sites:

Charitable organizations. These agencies have been “cleared” through the Department of Defense. There is quite an extensive list here so be sure to check this site out!

Operation Gratitude

Operation USO Care Package

You can find a list of military members who are looking for care packages at:

AnySoldier

These men and women have volunteered to handle packages and mail for other military members.  They receive the care packages and then distribute them to their fellow servicemen who aren’t getting any mail, let alone getting any packages. The Any Soldier website also offers a lot of other information on how to pack, address and send your care packages.

A note if you decide to send items to any of these organizations:  Please note that these organizations will prepare care packages based on what you send and usually combine contents from others who donate.  It is important to know that these organizations have to pay for shipping your donations on to our troops.  It costs these organizations $15 PER BOX!   You may want to keep this in mind if you use the services of these organizations.  If within your budget, you may also wish to consider sending a monetary donation to cover the additional shipping.

Why not take a little time this holiday season to put together a care package for someone in the military.  If you have children, get them involved in this project, too.  Have them draw pictures of the holiday, like Christmas trees, snowmen, etc., or even make greeting cards for them.  If you don’t have the time to shop and package, consider making a small donation that will contribute to making up care packages, and to purchase cards and gifts for our troops.  It truly saddened me to learn just how MANY servicemen and servicewomen do NOT receive any mail.

Show your pride in our armed forces today.    A card, letter or care package WILL make a significant difference in the lives of these service men and women.  Let these young men and women know they are not forgotten and that we appreciate what they do for us every single day to protect and defend our freedom.   Support our military!

Happy Holidays to all of you, and thank you for joining me in this gesture of love and gratitude.

*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*

TOILETRIES/PERSONAL CARE ITEMS

  • Baby wipes

  • Baby powder

  • Body wash

  • Body powder

  • Brushes, combs

  • Deodorant/Antiperspirant (NO aerosols)

  • Eye drops

  • Flea collars (for sand mites, ants, other biting bugs)

  • Foot powder

  • Hair gels, mousse, etc.

  • Hair ties

  • Icy Hot patches

  • Lip balm, Chapstick, vaseline

  • Lotion

  • Q-tips, cotton balls

  • Razors (disposables)

  • Shampoo & cream rinse

  • Soap — bars

  • Sunscreen

  • Tampons, pads (all sizes & strengths)

  • Toilet paper, paper towels

  • Toothbrushes and toothpaste

  • Ziploc bags – all sizes

Snacks

  • Canned food (lasagna, spaghetti & meatballs, mac & cheese, etc., that can be heated in the microwave)

  • Cereal bars

  • Chex Mix (NOT homemade)

  • Chewing gum

  • Coffee

  • Cookies and brownies (individually wrapped)

  • Granola bars

  • Hard candy

  • Hot cocoa mix

  • Hot sauce

  • Jerky

  • Juice boxes

  • Gatorade or other sport drinks

  • Macaroni and cheese

  • Microwave popcorn

  • M&Ms

  • Nuts

  • Pickles

  • Powdered drink mix

  • Pringles or other snack “chips” in containers

  • Ramen noodles

  • Soup mix

  • Spices

  • Sunflower seeds

ENTERTAINMENT:

  • Batteries – AA, C and D are most requested

  • Board games – all types (Monopoly, chess, checkers, etc.)

  • Books – all kinds

  • CD’s – all types

  • Dice

  • Dominos

  • DVD’s – all genres

  • Hacky Sack

  • Koozies

  • Magazines

  • Newspapers

  • Notepads

  • Phone cards

  • Playing cards

  • Puzzle books

  • Video games

Other comforts such as beanie caps, boot socks, ear plugs, inflatable pillows and shoe insoles would also be much appreciated.

THINGS YOU CANNOT SEND

  • Obscene material, including artwork, cards, films, videotapes, etc.

  • Anything depicting nude or seminude persons, pornographic or sexual items, or non-authorized political materials

  • Bulk quantities of religious materials contrary to the Islamic faith (items for personal use for the addressee are fine)

  • Any pork or pork by-products

FOOD TIPS FOR CARE PACKAGES

When sending food, purchase items with a long shelf life. Avoid homemade baked goods unless you know the recipient, otherwise, they’ll be thrown away.  Place cookies and other baked foods in an airtight container that is cushioned.  Add some extra packing tape around the lid to keep it sealed so the contents will be as fresh as possible.  Keep food and non-food items separate!  Remember  the packages will be traveling long distances, often in hot weather, so avoid any foods and snacks that might melt, get sticky, etc.

16 Responses to Remembering Our Troops!

  1. Sharolyn S. January 2, 2012 at 11:46 am #

    Spot on with this write-up. I truly need to return to this website and read more. You have a ton of great info documented in this blog and I can’t wait to read more of it! Thanks for posting all of that info.

  2. R.L. in Alaska January 2, 2012 at 9:38 am #

    Great ideas you have written here! I’m gonna try it. Thx!

  3. Sebastian S. December 30, 2011 at 9:03 pm #

    Great article. Great info, too. A lot of it I didn’t know about. thx for sharing the info.

  4. DeeCaravello December 26, 2011 at 11:21 am #

    Excellent info. I was frustrated when first looking for info on this but that ended after reading your post! Thanks for all the info you included in it!

  5. Nora P. December 25, 2011 at 8:28 am #

    Hey! I just wanted to say congratulations to your website :-) , I really like what you’ve done with it! Merry Christmas and I hope you have a happy new year.

  6. Romona C. December 25, 2011 at 3:01 am #

    Thanks for posting this info! Happy Holidays to you and yours!

  7. Cammie M. December 23, 2011 at 5:56 pm #

    An impressive post. Thanks for spending the time in researching this and haring this info! My husband and I feel strongly about this and appreciate what you are doing to help our men and women in uniform!

  8. Zella P. December 22, 2011 at 10:10 am #

    WOW, I didn’t know we could do this for our troops. Thx for the info.

  9. H. Wicinsky December 21, 2011 at 11:50 am #

    Hey!! Merry Christmas and happy new years to one and all. Thank you for this website! I love all the info you have posted here! Happpy holidays! Cheers!

  10. Mitchell M. December 20, 2011 at 9:20 am #

    Happy holidays!!!!! My family and I would like to wish you a very merry christmas and a happy new year :) . It’s the season of giving so we are actually going beyond our “normal” giving spirit and will be remembering our men and women in uniform who defend us and our freedom! We are not rich, by no means but we do enjoy our freedom. Don’t take Freedom for granted! Happy Holidays to all!

  11. Hershel H. December 19, 2011 at 3:54 pm #

    Great post. Thanks for the info you shared. Made things easy for us this year!

  12. Alonzo N. December 18, 2011 at 7:39 pm #

    So grateful for the info you shared here with all of us. Made things simpler for us. Thanks. Merry christmas and happy new years to you and yours.

  13. Bobby R. December 18, 2011 at 1:24 pm #

    Hey, great info. You made this easy for us. Happy holidays to you, too.

  14. Lacy S. December 17, 2011 at 8:55 am #

    Hey, this is a really nice site you have here and I just wanted to drop a friendly message to tell you that. It has a lot of great tools and information in it. My son and I love it. (He is in school to be a pro chef and has used a lot of your tips in his cooking and meal preps!). he has shared your web address with many of his classmates, too. Keep up the great work here!

  15. Beth Eldridge December 16, 2011 at 11:40 am #

    Hi, not positive you got my other message but my fiance and I really love your blog. :) He insisted that I message you again to tell you this! Thanks for all of the interesting subjects you write about and keep up the great work. Great articles and great photos, too! Thanks. Happy holiday’s to all of you there. We look forward to reading more about holiday food recipes and recipes for the “big game” that is up next month. Will you have anything special for that again this year???

  16. Elizabeth M. December 13, 2011 at 4:10 pm #

    My husband and I really like your blog. :) Peace and love.

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