Cookie Care Packages:
Sending Care Packages to Our Troops

Cookie care packages: Would you like to support our troops?  Do you know the rules?  Read more here...

By Elizabeth Bonner

Sending care packages to our troops stationed overseas is a great way to show your support for their efforts.  However, you must plan the contents of the package carefully to ensure that the soldier will receive everything in useful condition.

Every member of the armed services would love to have homemade cookies and other goodies to enjoy and share with others.  Such items are a thoughtful gesture, but can raise some problems which may keep them from reaching troops.  Each country in which our troops are stationed have different customs rules on what can enter the county including food products.  Often homemade goodies do not have an ingredient list and can be removed for that reason.  Commercially packed goodies have been authorized and will not be removed from packages.  In addition, remember that the weather will be very different from ours – for example, temperatures in the Iraq/Afghanistan area can reach over 110 in the summer.  Any products sent during the summer must be able to withstand such temperatures.

Keeping the package size manageable is another item to plan properly.  The United States Post Office offers two boxes which make ideal sized care packages – the flat rate “shoe-box” size, and the flat rate 11 7/8” by 3 3/8” by 13 5/8” box.  The boxes are priority shipped to the APO address for the flat rate of $8.10 for each box.  There is also a flat rate envelope available – please see www.usps.com or your local post office for information.  In addition, keeping the box weight to about 6 pounds makes them very easy to handle.  If you do not have a specific person to send a care package, you can use your web browser to find programs that assist in matching troops to givers.  One such program can be found at www.anysoldier.com and often lists specific requests from soldiers or squads. There are currently over 3,000 names on their contact list.

Remember when sending packages to military members that the United States Postal Service delivers the packages to the APO address.  After that, delivery is dependent upon the military mail services and may take longer than what we normally expect.  In addition, you will be required to complete a customs certificate listing the items within the package and their cost.  These forms can be completed and printed at www.usps.com or obtained from your local post office.

Creating a care package can be quite easy, whether you do it yourself or use one of the many services that are available.  If you wish to purchase a care package, and there are many types available from entertainment to hygiene to goodies, you can find a company by typing in “soldier care packages” into your web browser.  If you wish to stock one yourself, please remember these guidelines:

Prohibited Items:

Obscene articles (prints, paintings, cards, books, videos)

Pornographic or sexual items

Anything with nude or seminude persons

Non-authorized political materials
Religious materials contrary to the Islamic faith(personal items are allowed)

Pork or pork by-products

You can also call 1-800-ASK-USPS, consult your local Post Office™, or phone the Military Postal Service Agency at 1-800-810-6098.

People often ask if phone cards are a good idea for a care package.  There are some issues with the phone cards primarily because you need to have specific cards.  It is wise to only send cards if a person has requested them because you know they will be used.  The proper kind of phone cards for your member of the armed forces can be purchased at any base PX or online at www.thor.aafes.com/scs/default.aspxs.

Some suggestions for care packages include: chewing gum, dental travel kit, pocket comb, razors( Gillette Mach 3 refills are available at onsite PX’s so good brand),  Kleenex, chap stick, foot powder, bobby pins, shampoo, conditioner, Shower-to-Shower Body powder,  Q-Tips socks, gloves, cough drops, Midol, Antacids Tbs, soap, Sunblock, Hand sanitizer, Vitamins, gum, chips, hard candy, crackers, Beef Jerky, Cookies, dried fruits, Nuts, Magazines, P38 Opener, Plastic Utensils, Book, Writing Material, Batteries, Game, Neosporin, Journal, Word Puzzles, detergent, Feminine Stuff, Pledge Wipes, anti-bacterial wipes for cleaning, baby wipes, all-over-bath wipes, Bactine wipes, Band-aids, nail trimmers, tweezers, emery boards, snack foods like Chex mix, granola bars, sunflower seeds, tuna/chicken lunch kits, canned pasta, soups, individual coffee, cocoa, cider, tea bags, sugar packets, individual water-bottle sized drink mixes (ex. Crystal Light), and many more things……

Remember to pack the box carefully with adequate padding.  If sending items that are liquid or able to spill, enclose the item in one Ziploc bag, and then another upside down to ensure no spills.  Address the box in dark, thick black marker, write in block letters and soon your loved one will be enjoying his or her care package.

Elizabeth Bonner owns Show Your American Pride, which specializes patriotic and military-themed gifts.  I am also the wife of Army Colonel Michael J. Bonner who is currently serving in Iraq, and have several familiy members in or working for the military. To see our  patriotic gifts, key rings, and military belt buckles, please visit http://www.showyouramericanpride.com

 

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