I often get asked by people what they should send in care packages to soldiers who have been deployed to Iraq or Afghanistan. Here are a few tips to keep in mind when deciding what to send. It’s hard to create a list of the “best” stuff to send in care packages, because the things that soldiers need will depend greatly on where they are stationed, whether there is a PX nearby, and what their individual preferences are. Here are some general tips to keep in mind (I use “he” a lot, but these apply to female soldiers as well!):
- The classics are always a safe bet: baked goods, snack foods, drink mixes, or anything that can keep well without refrigeration. This includes Lunchables, tuna salad kits… basically any alternative to Army food. Try to get bulk sizes (Sam’s Club!) if possible so he/she can share and trade with others.
- Coffee, sugar, and creamer are always in short supply. Find out if they have a coffee maker, and if not send instant. Even if your soldier doesn’t like coffee much, a) he’ll probably learn to! and b) he’ll make great friends with the other coffee drinkers in his platoon!
- Toiletries aren’t too hard to come by anymore, but if there is a particular brand he uses that’s not available over there, send that his way.
- Phone cards, envelopes, and postage stamps are a great way to help your soldier keep in touch. Find out first what type of phones are available; some use regular phone cards while others have to use Hello a certain provider’s card.
- Most base camps now have electricity, and so many soldiers have portable DVD players (or a laptop with a DVD player), CD/MP3 players (ipods), GameBoys, and the like. So send new DVDs, CDs, games, etc. that your soldier may like to help break the monotony. AA batteries also help a lot for these small personal devices.
- Magazines are always good; send ones you know he likes (or has similar interests to) or just general magazines that people his age enjoy. They’ll Home all get passed around to everyone else anyway. If there’s a website he visits regularly (such as news, sports, etc.) then print out some articles and include those too.
- Whatever your soldier likes at home, he will like while deployed. If he really likes your homemade cookies, send plenty of those. And if he doesn’t do crossword puzzles while at home, he won’t like them while deployed either!
- Anything that helps him stay connected to home is great. If he cheap jerseys misses a big family reunion or a bunch of his friends get together for a night on the cheap mlb jerseys town, be sure to send lots of pictures of those. If he has children, young relatives, or pets that he misses, send new pictures of those too. If it’s a Bonjour coworker, get everyone together for a group photo holding a sign that says “we miss you!” These will help to ease the feeling that he’s “missing out on life” while he’s gone.
- If he’s been there for a while, instead of trying wholesale mlb jerseys to guess what he likes/needs, just ask! Don’t worry about “ruining the surprise”; only he can tell you what he’d like that he can’t get nearby.
- Don’t fret too much about what to send; just send something. Aaron Just as important as what’s in the package is that you thought enough to send one, and that connection to home is priceless. If he lives Hello in a remote camp that only gets mail a few times a month, there is nothing worse than mail day coming and going without receiving anything. If it’s a choice between one big package once, and several small packages often, go for often. Get together with a group of family or friends and take turns each week sending a package.
UPDATE: I have found a website, AnySoldier.com, which helps people send care packages to “any soldier” (hopefully those that don’t ordinarily get much mail) for those who would like to help out but who don’t personally know anyone to send stuff to.