You want to show a special service member – or even a group of troops – that you care. What better way than to send thoughtful gifts?
Step 1: Select a service member Pick a service member to send a package to. Sending to someone you know is great, but you can also use sites like anysoldier.com to ship a box to someone you've never met.
TIP: If you don't have timeIf you don't have time to assemble and ship a package on your own, visit sites like "treatsfortroops.com":http://treatsfortroops.com, "treatanysoldier.com":http://treatanysoldier.com, and "uso.org":http://uso.org to sponsor one.
Step 2: Choose a theme Choose a category. It's best to pick one kind of item ¬¬– food, toiletries, or gadgets – and stick with it. No one wants to eat trail mix that's shared an enclosed space with deodorant.
Step 3: Pick food items For a food-themed box, pick non-perishable goods like powdered drinks, chips, dried fruits, protein bars, mints, pretzels, nuts, hard candy, small packages of popular crackers or cookies, ramen, tea, instant hot chocolate and coffee (as well as other instant foods), snack mix, and cereal.
TIP: Avoid sending chocolate during the spring and summer; it melts. Also, when you send to someone you don't know, don't ship goods you baked yourself.
Step 4: Try toiletries Troops need toiletries, too. The basics are great, but also consider lip balm, pain relievers, adhesive bandages, cushioned insoles, powder, razors, and packets of unscented baby wipes. Only send non-pressurized travel size toiletries, and try to send requested brands.
Step 5: Go for games and gadgets Disposable cameras, AA and C batteries, playing cards, puzzles, CDs or DVDs, phone cards, board games, Frisbees, and flashlights, as well as all kinds of reading and writing materials, are in high demand. Don’t bother sending expensive gifts that could break easily.
TIP: Don’t send pornography or alcohol. The military has strict regulations on both.
Step 6: Choose other useful supplies They may not be the first things that come to mind, but supplies like duct tape, baggies, sunglasses, journals, and bug spray are also good choices.
TIP: It’s hard to keep water cool in desert climates – many service members put a water bottle in a wet sock or hang it from a tree or moving vehicle, so extra socks are doubly practical.
Step 7: Pack it up Use a sturdy cardboard box, and get packing material to fill in the empty space. Double-tape the edges, and wrap any items that might leak in plastic bags. If you'd like a response, enclose a brief note including your home address and email.
TIP: If you include a note, voice your appreciation for their sacrifice. Care packages reassure troops overseas of support back home.
Step 8: Get documentation Since you’re likely shipping to a dangerous area, the postal service has strict requirements. Label your package clearly and correctly, and get postal form 2976-A and customs documentation. If you're at all confused, visit "usps.com":http://usps.com or contact your local post office for full instructions.
FACT: The term "care package" comes from the organization CARE, which was formed in 1945 to aid World War II survivors.