Saturday, December 4, 2010

Your 2010 Military Care Package Guide

A few people have asked me about what types of things are good to mail to Soldiers overseas. I can attest to the fact that it is a great feeling to get mail here, even if it's from people you don't know that well. Not only is it nice to get letters, newspaper clippings, and snack food, but the knowledge that someone took the time to send something to you always makes the day a little better. Mail is delivered here seven days a week, even on holidays, so when I got packages on Thanksgiving Day it made the holiday that much more memorable. They recommend sending Christmas items by December 7. Not that there's anything wrong with getting stuff after Christmas also. There are handy tips about the mailing process at the US Postal Service website and if you do a Google search on "care packages" you'll find several websites with ideas and information. Here are some other guidelines:

*One of the guidelines for sending items to Afghanistan is that a Soldier's last name goes first. This helps the mail clerks with keeping things organized.

*Don't put a recipient's rank on the package.

*Don't send things with batteries in them.

*Don't send pornographic materials. (I partly wonder if this is because there periodicals...available at the PX and they don't want you cutting into their market. I don't buy any of them, but they're there.)

*Don't send flammable or explosive items, i.e. lighter fluid, gunpowder, bleach.

*Microwaves are not available here so items that require cooking, like Ramen noodles, are not good things to send unless you know someone who likes to eat them cold and/or raw.

*Don't send fresh fruit. It may not be fresh when it arrives.

*Prepackaged foods are good because they are less likely to spoil. Beef jerky is popular here.

*Homemade foods (cookies, brownies, etc.) are good because...well, they're good.

*If they are soft or crumbly, like Pop Tarts or Little Debbie snacks, put them in some kind of solid container to protect them.

*The cereal selection isn't good here, so I asked my parents to send some Honey Nut Cheerios, which they sent in the plastic bag from inside the box. Made breakfast a lot better!

*Some things, like raisins, gummy stuff, or big puffy marshmallows, are fine for sending, though they aren't good things to send to me because I just don't care for them. If I get them, I share them with others who do like them.

*Someone sent me a foot-tall Christmas tree and some decorating items, so decorations aren't in demand in my room.

*DVDs and CDs are good because they are relatively small, durable, and provide entertainment. Paperback books are also a very good option. Most people here have laptop computers with disc drives. Even though I stored a lot of movies, music, and television shows on my computer, portable hard drive, and iPhone, it's always nice to have another option to throw in there and enjoy during my down time.

*Foot powder, hand lotion, Band Aids, and Kleenex are always good options.

*Paper and envelopes are hard to come by here, so if you want a response by mail stationery is a fine thing to send as well.

If you have other ideas or questions, leave a comment or email me!