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One of the easiest ways to show your support for our military is to mail care packages to those who are deployed. When the husband last deployed, I sent him a package at least once a month. We filled it with snacks he liked, any toiletries he might need, and pictures from the kids. We also included his chewing tobacco, but that doesn’t mean I support his habit. He had a couple Marines under him who never received any mail. None at all. He would let me know and then I would make care packages for them. I was more than happy to send these guys mail (because someone needed to!), but it was so hard for me to come up with ideas of what to put in the packages. I didn’t know them. I didn’t know what they liked to eat or what they might need, so I tried to make it generic as possible.
I would like to think that most people thought the same way I did when I was mailing those guys packages. They don’t know what to send or what could be useful, so they just don’t send anything. Well, I’ve got tips for a foolproof package that will make anyone happy.
First off, go to the post office and pick up a couple flat rate boxes. The large ones are the perfect size. It ships for one flat price, so feel free to put as much in there as you can fit! Priority mail is also the preferred method to ship boxes. If anything is sent parcel post, it can take months to get there. I don’t recommend it.
Make the boxes fun! I had vinyl scraps, so I cut them to size to put on the inside flaps. My daughter and I then wrote messages on them. Scrapbook paper works just as well, then add lettering of some kind, stickers, or have the kids draw pictures! If there is any possibility something could leak or melt, put it in a separate Ziploc bag. No one wants to get a box covered in shampoo. Feel free to also decorate the outside of the box (stick to the sides though). Draw pictures, write a message, or just use fun tape. When writing the address, make sure it is big, bold, and correct! Don’t forget your return address as well.
What To Pack
Food and Drinks
For drinks, include canned energy drinks or anything that can be added to water, like flavor enhancers. Coffee is always a good idea. Do not send any liquor. For food, send energy bars, protein bars, tuna, beef jerky, candy, and gum. Remember that this is going to a very hot place and will likely sit in hot places along the way, so try not to send anything that is going to melt, like chocolate. If you do, put it in a separate bag so it doesn’t make a mess. For gum, I really like the new Extra® 35-stick pack. There is a lot more gum in each package and it comes in a more durable, recycled plastic container. This will make it a lot easier for them to throw the pack in their pocket and not worry about it getting beat up with all the running around they do. You can find these new larger packs in the checkout or on the shelf at Walgreens.
I like to send any travel or sample size items I have at home. This time around, I had a few travel size toothpastes, dental floss, and toothbrushes, as we have all been to the dentist recently. Other good things to include are razors, shaving cream, wet wipes, lotion, sunscreen, chapstick, and small packages of tissues. Don’t forget about the women either! Feminine hygiene products are great to add as well.
I tend to forget about this, but feel free to send books and magazines (no ‘girly’ magazines though, those are not allowed). Throw in last month’s issue of what you have at home or buy what you think they’ll like. Crossword puzzle books or something similar also works. Playing cards, foam footballs, or anything else to pass the time. Phone cards are always welcome. Add pens and paper too. Maybe it will encourage a few letters sent home (I’m big on this one, because I got one letter from the husband last deployment. One. He sent emails, but it’s not the same.).
Card or Letter From You
Include a card or letter in the box, telling them a little about yourself. If you have children, add pictures they drew or letters they’ve written. Ask them to write the kids back. They won’t mind! If you are sending something to someone from your town, add a recent newspaper or something they’ll appreciate.
My most recent package is below. I included:
(2) Packages of Beef Jerky
(3) Packages of Nuts
(1) Pack Extra® Gum Spearmint
(1) Pack Extra® Gum Polar Ice®
(3) Travel Size Toothpaste
(1) Dental Floss
(3) Packs Wipes
(1) Bottle of Sunscreen
(1) Pack of Razors
(1) Box of Tampons
(1) 3-Pack Bar of Soap
What would you include in your care package?