WHAT TO SEND
Each deployment location is so different, so the needs of the soldier will be different depending on where they're going. They may not be able to tell you exactly where they're going before they leave, but they should be able to at least tell you what they would enjoy when they're there. For example, Joel always requests that people not send him bulky things that he'll just have to carry home or have to pay to get sent back. Some bulky things just get left there for the next unit coming in.
Here are some things that Joel loves to get:
- Flushable wipes
- Gold Bond
- Pictures/Drawings from home
- Magnets for his locker
- Batteries for his camera
- Crossword puzzles
- Homemade goodies
- One-serving drink mixes (he loves the KoolAid mixes)
- Trail Mix
- Tea bags
Keep in mind that most likely, your care package is going to the Middle East. It's hot there. Things melt. There's nothing like being teased with homemade treats that are inedible because they're all melted. That being said:
- Don't send chocolate. Chocolate trail mix, chocolate chip cookies, chocolates bars... they will not survive.
- Aerosol cans
- Alcohol - It can be done, but don't risk it.
- Letters/notes from home about problems at home. Keep letters fun, encouraging and light. They have enough on their mind, wherever they are, and they need to keep focused on their mission. They'll have plenty of time to get caught-up on all the drama they missed when they get home.
- Your care package will go via USPS. You will drop it off at a branch and they will ship it to a military base. From there, it will go on a military plane and fly to your soldier's destination. Packages can take up to 10 days to get there. This deployment, packages take 6-7 days.
- You package will need a Customs Form. On the form you will need: your address, your soldier's address, a list of the items in the box including the quantity of each item and the approximate value of all the items in your care package. (I always bring a list with me of all these things, so I'm not stuck there wondering what I have in the box.)
- The custom form only has 4 lines to list the items in the box - so if you're sending more than 4 different kinds of items, you may need to fill-out 2 forms. I've gotten creative with this. For example, if I'm sending 6 different kinds of snacks, I will list it as "snacks" and write 6 as the quantity.
- When in doubt, ask. I've found the Post Office employees to be so helpful! They are always willing to take the time to answer my questions and they have always been very patient with me.
- Pack the box well. I always keep brown packing paper around to fill in open spaces in the box. Remember, both the USPS and the military are handling your box. Just saying.
- Double and triple tape the seams and edges of the box.