Send a little ‘home’ to a soldier.
Imagine that you’re in another country doing extremely hard work. You carry very heavy equipment in 100-degree heat. You won’t get to see family or friends for 18 months. Sometimes you’re sleeping on the ground. Showers can be few and far between. When mail delivery finally gets to your location, wouldn’t you want to see anything that brings a little comfort?
One thing a soldier will tell you is how important it is to remain connected to home. Many men and women in our military never receive anything on mail day and they will tell you, there are few things worse. There are soldiers serving in such remote locations that they don’t have access to basic necessities.
Send a Little ‘Home’ Their Way
If you want give a little tender-loving care to a soldier overseas, there are many organizations through which you can send packages. Or you can make up your own group. Get together with family, friends or co-workers to take turns sending items each week.
Many groups send in bulk so the soldiers can share with one another. This is important for them because they can give to the men or women who aren’t receiving anything.
What to Send
- Letters from home, even from people they don’t know, lift their spirits and make them feel more connected.
- Stationery, envelopes and stamps help them keep in touch with friends and family.
- Food and drinks are always appreciated, especially coffee and sugar; also send things that don’t require refrigeration, like snack foods, drink mixes, baked goods, etc.
- Entertainment items, like magazines, CDs, DVDs and games help them pass the time.
- Basic necessities like deodorant and soap are usually needed by soldiers in remote locations. They use baby wipes and wet naps to wipe sand off their faces as well.
- And remember there are soldiers serving all over the world not just in Iraq and Afghanistan.
What Not to Send
Before you send a package, make sure you check out that country’s mail restrictions and pack your items correctly. For instance, you wouldn’t send the following items to Iraq:
Pork or pork by-products
Obscene or nude/semi-nude materials of any kind
Chocolate and other things that will melt in the desert temperatures
What they need depends on where they are stationed and whether a PX (military store) is nearby. If you get in touch with a soldier, don’t hesitate to ask about what they need or like. That way you won’t be sending unnecessary or unwanted items.
When you do send a package, you want to make sure it’s packaged correctly, so it will get to your soldier intact:
- Account for extreme temperatures.
- Boxes should be strong with room for cushioning.
- Batteries, if included in anything, should be wrapped separately.
- Taping should be reinforced on all corners. Don’t use string or twine.
- Always include a card inside box with description of items.
- Include the service member’s full name.
- Include the APO/FPO (Air/Army Post Office/Fleet Post Office) with the nine-digit zip code( if one is assigned).
- For packages print on one side only in the lower right-hand corner.
There are a countless number of organizations that can help you decide to whom and where you want to send packages. They are usually volunteer and non-profit. Their websites have in-depth descriptions of what is needed, what can or cannot be sent and how to send items.
Groups like Operation Gratitude assemble care packages for you. They hold letter writing campaigns as well as collection and donation drives. Volunteers then put everything together in one place to ensure security and compliance.
Another organization, AnySoldier, was started by one army sergeant who parachuted into very harsh conditions in Iraq. His family sent him packages addressed to “Attn: Any Soldier” so he could share with his fellow soldiers. The effort grew from family members to now include over 35,000 volunteer contacts. AnySoldier has a huge list of military representatives who ask for specific needed items and distribute packages to their units and platoons in all branches of the military.
A few more organizations to check out:
Treat Any Soldier
Treats For Troops
Adopt a Platoon
You can choose one soldier or adopt an entire platoon. Whether it’s a donation, a package or a letter, you will be lifting someone’s spirits more than you can imagine. You’ll lift your own as well, knowing you’re making a difference and that you are highly appreciated for it.