Care packages for soldiers overseas

By Matt Williamson
Info Guru,

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Send a gift to a soldier overseas, and make someone's day brighter
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Care packages for soldiers overseas... Do you know someone serving in Iraq, Afghanistan or another overseas location that would benefit from a gift from home? If you're like most people, you probably know at least one person currently serving in military that you'd like to do something nice for. For me, it is my friend, Sgt. Mary Walter.

Sgt. Walter serves with the 1-189th Aviation Air Assault Battalion out of Helena in the S1 office as the Personnel Services Sergeant in Iraq. Her office is responsible for the management and accountability of personnel in the battalion. Like most soldiers, she enjoys receiving care packages from family and friends back home.

What to include

I asked Mary what items she would most appreciate receiving and this is her list:

  • Shampoo and conditioner (the small sample bottles that you receive when you stay at a hotel or the $1 size from Wal-Mart)
  • Phone cards
  • Single powder packets of Crystal Light and Gatorade
  • Beef jerky
  • Hand wipes
  • Cookies or chips (no chocolate—nothing that will melt)
  • Dried fruit
  • Nuts
  • Hard candy
  • Gum
  • Magazines and newspapers
  • Batteries
  • Playing cards
  • Handheld games

You can purchase a cheap plastic box from Wal-Mart (shoebox size) to mail these in. The soldier who receives your gift can then use the box for storage when he/she is done enjoying your gift. The recipient will be reminded of your generosity every time he or she uses the container. You should also use the U.S. Postal Service to mail your care packages for soldiers overseas because many of the other commercial shippers don't deliver to APO addresses.

There are also commercial services that ship care packages to men and women serving overseas. Make sure they understand that the gift is going to an APO address before you place your order. Many companies use delivery services that cannot send to these addresses. Check on shipping times, too. If your soldier is in transit or is likely to be transferred, a gift with a long shipping time may arrive after they've moved on.

Finding a soldier

Even if you don't know anyone serving overseas, your can still send a care package to a soldier. The Adopt a Soldier program allows volunteers to send packages to wounded soldiers at the Walter Reed Medical Center. You can also adopt a soldier from a site called Soldier Angels, started by one soldier's mom.

However you choose to support a soldier serving abroad, be sure to follow the rules about what you should and should not send. If the soldier is someone you don't know personally, keep the tone of your cards and gifts light and friendly –most of the people serving are married and do not wish to receive inappropriate letters, photos, or gifts from strangers.

Don't get discouraged if you don't hear back from a soldier…communications are often difficult and although they genuinely appreciate your cards and gifts, responding to them may be impossible at times.

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