color: SOME SOLDIER'S MOM: HOLIDAY & CHRISTMAS PACKAGES & GIFTS FOR THE TROOPS & SOLDIERS

Friday, November 23, 2007

HOLIDAY & CHRISTMAS PACKAGES & GIFTS FOR THE TROOPS & SOLDIERS

2008 Information is HERE


Putting this back on top and editing the title so that it matches more of the many, many searches by people looking for information...


To hell with that idiot woman in Massachusetts.... my sitemeter is filled with people looking for ideas of things to send the troops. I know I'm running late on this post this year -- SO GET GOING!!

First, I suggest that you make this a family project -- nothing better than to explain the sacrifices of the military to your children. It is also a GREAT group project -- Homeowners Associations, church groups, community groups, poker groups, reading and investment clubs...

Second, if you do not personally know a Soldier or Marine serving, go to any of these sites and adopt one (or a whole platoon!!) There are too many soldiers, sailors, marines and airmen who do not receive any mail... and that's especially hard to take at the holidays.

I highly recommend each of the following organizations:


Third, if you have received that email about sending Christmas cards to "any wounded soldier" at Walter Reed, please don't. The program was discontinued a few years back because they do not have the staff or time to sort and screen all that mail... and those extra cards (however well-intentioned) delay the delivery of holiday cards and mail to these wounded soldiers from their family and friends. If you would like to do this, please check with your local Veterans hospital or Veterans Center... they all have programs for the holidays (consider volunteering!! Our veterans love company!)

11/29/07:
Miss Ladybug says: You can send cards to wounded troops via Operation Holiday Thanks:

Operation Holiday Thanks
c/o E.D. Hill
Fox News Channel
1211 Sixth Avenue
17th Floor
New York, NY 10036

But do it SOON since they go to Fox and then to the wounded, so they need a little extra time!

Fourth mailing info & deadlines:

• Packages must be addressed to an individual service member. Mail cannot be delivered to “any service member.” Use the member’s full name, military organization or unit and APO/FPO address.

Do not include the country name in any part of the address when using an APO/FPO address.

• Choose a box strong enough to protect its contents, and use plenty of cushioning material such as popcorn or newspapers.

• Consider using the Postal Service’s free Military Kit — eight boxes of three different sizes popular for mailing to military personnel, along with mailing labels, tape and U.S. Customs forms. Kits can be obtained by calling toll-free to (800) 610-8734. Choose option 1, and when a live agent responds, ask for Care Kit 4. This might come too late for Holiday mailing so stop by your local post office and ask for the boxes AND the Customs forms.

• Write the delivery and return addresses on one side of the package.

• Place a return address label inside the package.


If you missed the parcel post deadline (that was earlier this week), here are your options for getting mail to an APO/FPO address by Dec. 25 (subtract 21 days from these deadlines to ensure delivery in time for Hanukkah):

• Space Available Mail (SAM): Nov. 27.

• Parcel Airlift Mail (PAL): Dec. 4, except for ZIP codes starting with 093, which are all areas of contingency operations (Iraq and Afghanistan). The suggested deadline for those locations is Dec. 1.

• Priority Mail: Dec. 11 (093 ZIP codes, Dec. 4).

• First-class letters and cards: Dec. 11. (093 ZIP codes, Dec. 4).

• Express Mail Military Services: Dec. 18 (not available to 093 ZIP codes).

Now for the goodies stuff:


HOLIDAY PACKAGES FOR SOLDIERS

We all look forward to the holidays. We look forward to the comfort and happiness and nostalgia that the holidays bring and spending the time with our families. Imagine being thousands of miles away and having that day be like every other day... But you can make a difference to our soldiers...

***************************

This listing is certainly not comprehensive... use your imaginations -- if it's fun for you, it will be fun for soldiers and marines, sailors & airmen!

Christmas Stockings.
- Individual packets of hot chocolate, cider or hot soup mix…
- Candy (bite sized, individually wrapped, all kinds)
- AT&T Phone Cards
- Hand held games (battery games with batteries, please)
- Small puzzle books
- Small, signed Holiday cards from you and your families (include your name and address!)
- Cigarettes (no lectures, please. I don't smoke, but most soldiers we know do)
- Cigars (good ones!)
- Books (current titles are greatly appreciated)
- Magazines (cars, trucks, men's health, exercise, business, computing...)
- Microwave food items (popcorn, all-in-one pan microwave deserts, heat & eat soups, etc.)
- Cereal bars
- Granola Bars
- Home baked goods (pack brownies and cakes in bread slices or package in tins and wrap in plastic wrap
-
Army & Air Force Exchange Service (AAFES) Gift Cards
- Pre-paid gift cards or gift certificates from
American Express, Visa, Amazon.com, or from specific stores - Best Buy, Staples, Barnes & Noble, Circuit City, etc.) These soldiers have a range of things they need or want over the course of their deployments...

Holiday decorations. Look around your homes and see your most cherished reminders of the holidays... and replicate those for our troops.
- Garland
- Shatterproof ornaments (Kohls, K-Mart, Wal-Mart, Target all sell these)
- Tinsel
- Lights (small wattage)
- Small artificial trees

Cold weather items (it's cool there now -- Iraq, Afghanistan, Korea, Germany -- and getting colder).
- Stocking caps (black only)
- Long sleeve t-shirts -- (M, L or XL) but must be Army brown...
Under Armour is preferred but also (less pricey) Dri-Release shirts (Soffee, Anvil, etc.) (but good luck finding them in brown). You can also order t-shirts and other deployment items at AAFES (click on the "Gift from the Homefront" icon in the right column!)

- Gloves (tactical gloves are preferred... which you can also find online or at gun stores or military or police supply stores)

- Lightweight fleece blankets.

DVDs, Music CDs... new releases are greatly coveted... and believe me, they pass them around and trade them so one DVD or one CD makes its way to a lot of soldiers...

Footballs, baseballs, baseball gloves, soccer balls, volleyballs...

Holiday Cards that they can send to friends and families back home (they do not need postage!) and ~K commented last year that she found sending boxes of Holiday Greeting Cards to be a huge success but also sent some All Occasion card boxes and they were just as appreciated.
Be sure to include your handwritten greetings... especially handwritten cards and notes from children!!

GO HERE
for links to some of the favorite shopping places that the many thousands of Soldiers Angels like! So many useful things for our Troops (h/t to MaryAnn -- one of our most favorite Angels!!)

HERE is the link to the list of "regular" care package stuff for Our Guys that might give you some ideas!

Be sure to check the comments for additional suggestions!!

HAVE FUN PUTTING THE PACKAGES TOGETHER
AND
THE SOLDIERS WILL HAVE FUN OPENING THEM!!!

**************************

Now for some practical suggestions:


Use FLAT RATE BOXES from the US Postal Service. These cost $8.95 to mail no matter how heavy you make the boxes (don't use this if you're sending lightweight things -- if you use these Flat Rate boxes stuff 'em as heavy as you can and get your money's worth!!)!

Don't forget the Customs Forms (every package to Iraq or Afghanistan -- zip code 093xx) MUST have one... fill them out as best you can BEFORE you get to the P.O. but the postal clerk will attach it for you. These are multi-part (self-carbon) forms that are a pain in the butt -- but necessary. You do not have to fill in the weight... and in the lower right corner it asks for instructions on what to do if the package cannot be delivered as addressed... tell them to direct delivery to another... and fill in "First Sergeant" and then the rest of the unit address for your soldier or the name & address of another soldier if you have more than one you have adopted.

Mail Early!!

Be aware that soldiers have a limit on the amount of "stuff" they can bring back so hold off sending priceless heirlooms and bulky items if your soldier is redeploying soon.

Finally, be aware of the
RESTRICTIONS ON CONTENTS:
If you are sending to Iraq or Afghanistan, DO NOT SEND ANY OF THE FOLLOWING:
obscene articles such as prints, paintings, cards, films, videotapes, etc.
pork or pork by-products
alcoholic beverages
any matter depicting nude or semi-nude persons, pornographic or sexual items
unauthorized political materials.

If contraband is found in a package, the entire contents may not be delivered!

SHOW YOU CARE AND DO JUST ONE THING FOR OUR TROOPS THIS HOLIDAY SEASON...
JUST ONE THING...
(Congress, are you listening???)

32 Comments:

At 11/16/2007 4:00 AM , Blogger MaryAnn said...

FIY, if you're tired of filling out customs forms by hand, they can be completed online here https://webapps.usps.com/customsforms/

Great tips, SSM!

 
At 11/16/2007 5:59 AM , Blogger ragingmom said...

Can I add some suggestions? The AT&T cards will not work in alot of areas. If shipping to soldiers up north in the Mosul area, SPAWAR is their phone card provider.
And AAFES cards are great! But don't forget, they are needed here at home too; my DIL is geeting AAFES and Wal-Mart cards for Christmas just so I know she will be good for groceries.
And I appreciate the suggestions, Carla. I am at a loss as to what will be needed once the boys get to where they are going. A whole different deal this time.

 
At 11/16/2007 6:49 AM , Blogger Melinda said...

Good reminders & ideas, SSM! Thanks!

 
At 11/16/2007 8:24 AM , Blogger Chuck said...

Don't feel like yo have to go overboard on huge care packages, or spend lots of money. A simple "We are thinking about you, and we support you and your mission, and wish you were home with us" is sufficient.

The most important thing is for the soldier to know that Mr. and Mrs. America really do know he's there, and that they care about him and what he's doing.

--Chuck

 
At 11/16/2007 9:45 AM , Blogger David M said...

The Thunder Run has linked to this post in the - Web Reconnaissance for 11/16/2007 A short recon of what’s out there that might draw your attention, updated throughout the day...so check back often.

 
At 11/16/2007 2:22 PM , Blogger Army Wife said...

I would love to link this great comprehensive article at SpouseBuzz!!

May I?

 
At 11/16/2007 2:54 PM , Blogger Debbi (no 'e' on the end) said...

Also you have the old flat rate at $8.10.......they are $8.95 now. Would like to mention Operation: MOM for packages to the troops also plus support for families AND friends of all branches of military. I am in the SF Bay Area in case any of your readers are interested plus I do Cards for the Troops all year round....more info on my blog. We are doing our packing on Sunday morning to the troops. Thanks for posting this great information.

 
At 11/16/2007 3:04 PM , Blogger Some Soldier's Mom said...

ADub -- ABSOLUTELY!!! you can even copy & paste with my permission! the more = the merrier!

 
At 11/16/2007 5:19 PM , Blogger Soldiers Angels said...

Thank you Carla,
Happy Holidays to all,
also we have distributers at the VA 's and military medical hospitals,'
if you send an unsealed card
and say for wounded heroes
we will get them there before Christmas
Love
Soldiers Angels

 
At 11/16/2007 5:24 PM , Blogger Miss Ladybug said...

About a month ago, I got some new contact addresses from Any Soldier. I have received a few replies. One of the replies was from a young lady who is one of (I think) 4 women with a bunch of men. I think they're in one of the "-stans"? Anyhow, I was in Target yesterday, and wandered through their $1 bins they have near the front doors. There were a couple of Peanuts (i.e. - "Charlie Brown") Christmas coloring books WITH crayons attached. I know that, even now, I can enjoy coloring, so I picked them up. And, they should fit nicely in a large manila envelope, so it will be less expensive to mail (I'm on a budget right now). I should be able to get it off in the mail to her well in time for Christmas...

Oh, and as you request addresses from any of those sites, please remember to support them, as well. Here, I'll plug the raffle at Any Soldier with my cross-stitch piece as one of the items.

 
At 11/16/2007 11:29 PM , Blogger J. said...

Great post as always, SSM!

I just wanted to add one thing: I've been advised NOT to send any home-baked goods, and that many of the troops are told to discard anything homemade that's from someone they don't personally know, due to safety issues.

 
At 11/17/2007 10:03 AM , Blogger Some Soldier's Mom said...

From Carrie:

I hope you don't mind but I'd also like to add that we're doing Operation Santa at the Hospitals again this year. Brooke, Balboa, Bethesda and Walter Reed.

http://www.marinemoms-bethesda.org/operationsanta.htm

 
At 11/17/2007 8:58 PM , Blogger ABW said...

Great post! I got here via Butterfly Wife. I bought a whole slew of stockings for my husband's platoon while he was deployed the first time and it was the after Christmas clearance sale. The second time he didn't have an address over Christmas and the next time he arrived home. Now he has been delayed a few weeks/months? so I will pack those stockings and get them out now! Then I can stock up on them after Christmas again and be ready for his deployment for next Christmas.

 
At 11/18/2007 1:51 PM , Anonymous Betsy said...

Under Armour has a desert sand color long sleeve t-shirt. Do you know if that is allowed in Iraq. One of the posts said "brown" but I don't know if desert sand is "brown."

 
At 11/19/2007 6:20 PM , Anonymous CHampton said...

Hey Don't forget to add our organization.
Check it out
www.operationgratitude.com
Our goal is to send 70,000 packages by Dec 29.
We really want your personal letters free of polictal overtones, religious stuff. just cheery holiday appreciation for their service to our country. read the website for the address on where to send your cards and letters. look to see how you can help the organization. Ben Affleck was on board for our opening day on Nov 10 and helped out on the assembly line. Check us out.
Proud Army Mom
SSG JTS
BIAP

p.s. if you use the online custom forms please print out i think its 4 copies for the postoffice. our guys don't like them.

 
At 11/24/2007 9:23 PM , Blogger T-hoe Family said...

AWESOME blog site.. I followed the link from a friend to your site.. I am not currently in Iraq but serving a year away from the family in Korea..

You can check my blog here.. http://thoekorea.blogspot.com

Thanks for what you do
Jason

 
At 11/27/2007 12:40 PM , Blogger David said...

Ma'am

Tried to post this over at Milblogs since you asked for info regarding a British charity. Keeps throwing me off - must be having a Boston Tea Party moment... 8-) Grateful you pass onto grayhawk et al.


"Ladies/Gents:

http://www.helpforheroes.org.uk/

Most kind of you to think of the poor British Forces since our own government does not. Any donation gratefully received.

Na diobair caraid's a charraid (Forsake not a friend in the fray)

Dave T

 
At 11/27/2007 2:39 PM , Anonymous Tracey said...

My boyfriend is being deployed to Iraq in the morning. He'll be in Kuwait for an undetermined time period. I have his address for Iraq now. My question is how can I send him something for Christmas, will they send it to where he's at or do you think it would probably get lost? Thank you for any help you can provide. Just hated the thought of him not having anything for the holidays.

 
At 11/27/2007 2:45 PM , Blogger Some Soldier's Mom said...

Tracey... Best to check with the Family Readiness Group (FRG) or the Rear Detachment (at his base). They may be able to provide an interim address for the holiday mailings, or they may tell you to mail to his Iraq address (although not usually because they cannot give out the date of his unit's movement from K to I). Wish I could be of more help... but I am sure that whenever he gets your gifts, they will be appreciated.

 
At 11/27/2007 8:57 PM , Anonymous Tracey said...

Thank you 'some soldier's mom'. This is such a hard time and I really appreciate everything you are doing.

 
At 11/28/2007 2:28 PM , Anonymous Tracey said...

I spoke to him today and he said it was probably okay to go ahead and ship it......they would hold it for him. Do you think this would be okay even if he won't be there for 2-4 weeks? Sorry for so many questions, this is so new to me. He forwarded me what his address would be in iraq. Thanks again.

 
At 11/28/2007 8:15 PM , Anonymous Craig J. Phillips MRC, BA said...

Hi Mom,
I do not know how to contact you, so I am using this comment to send you a note. Thank you for your time and kindness.


I am interested in providing encouragement to our veterans and the soldiers who have been wounded while protecting our great country. Additionally, I am interested in providing practical information and insight to assist their families. My name is Craig J. Phillips. I am a traumatic brain injury survivor and a master’s level rehabilitation counselor. I sustained an open skull fracture with right frontal lobe damage and remained in a coma for 3 weeks at the age of 10 in August of 1967. I underwent brain and skull surgery after waking from the coma. Follow-up cognitive and psyche-social testing revealed that I would not be able to succeed beyond high school. In 1967 Neurological Rehabilitation was not available to me, so I had to teach myself how to walk, talk, read, write and speak in complete sentences. I completed high school on time and went on to obtain both my undergraduate and graduate degrees. For an in depth view of my process please read my post, http://secondchancetolive.wordpress.com/2007/02/18/my-journey-thus-far/

Through out my lifetime I developed strategies to overcome many obstacles and in so doing I have achieved far beyond all reasonable expectations. On February 6, 2007 at the encouragement of a friend I created Second Chance to Live. Second Chance to Live, which is located at http://secondchancetolive.wordpress.com presents topics in such a way to encourage, motivate and empower the reader to live life on life’s terms. I believe our circumstances are not meant to keep us down, but to build us up. As a traumatic brain injury survivor, I speak from my experience, strength and hope. As a professional, I provide information to encourage, motivate and empower both disabled and non-disabled individuals to not give up on their process. Please read my post, http://secondchancetolive.wordpress.com/2007/04/18/the-power-of-identification/ My interest is to provide encouragement, hope, motivation and empowerment to veterans and their families

Please encourage your readers to visit Second Chance to Live at http://secondchancetolive.wordpress.com and consider adding Second Chance to Live to your web site as a useful resource and placing a notice in your newsletter.


Thank you for your time and kindness.

Have a simply phenomenal day!

Craig J. Phillips MRC, BA
Second Chance to Live

Our circumstances are not meant to keep us down, but to build us up!

I am available for speaking engagements, conferences and seminars. My message is to encourage the faint hearted, to hold up the arms of the weary and to empower people to dream again. By the way, I am available for speaking engagements, conferences and seminars. My message is to encourage the faint hearted, to hold up the arms of the weary and to empower people to dream again. In the event that you know of groups, churches or organizations that could benefit from my experience, strength and hope please let them know about Second Chance to Live. Thank you!

 
At 11/28/2007 8:29 PM , Blogger Some Soldier's Mom said...

Tracey -- If he said it was ok, then go for it. You can always write "hold for arrival" somewhere on the box (near the address label)

Go to my post "So Your Child is Being Deployed" (good info for spouses and girlfriends, too!) and look over some of the suggestions there, too (about sending taped messages and making video messages...) There's also some good info on what to expect and how to stay "connected" during his deployment! Also do's and don'ts..

http://www.somesoldiersmom.blogspot.com/2005/12/so-your-child-is-being-deployed.html

 
At 11/29/2007 11:35 AM , Blogger Miss Ladybug said...

Here's a brand new option for sending mail to our wounded warriors.

 
At 11/30/2007 4:47 AM , Anonymous joanna frazier, soldiers' angels said...

thank you thank you thank you

 
At 12/01/2007 10:49 PM , Blogger KT07 said...

Hi, I recently got medicaly retired from the Air Force, and about a week later my husband was off to Iraq....I just wanted to thank ya'll for everything your doing because my husband like many others, will be away for the first time throughout christmas and what not, and I know that every little bit counts....and we have several friends that dont have family and they are the ones who are getting your letters and packages, you guys really are whats making them push through each and everyday, THANK YOU!!!!!

 
At 12/01/2007 10:51 PM , Blogger KT07 said...

Hi, I recently got medicaly retired from the Air Force, and about a week later my husband was off to Iraq....I just wanted to thank ya'll for everything your doing because my husband like many others, will be away for the first time throughout christmas and what not, and I know that every little bit counts....and we have several friends that dont have family and they are the ones who are getting your letters and packages, you guys really are whats making them push through each and everyday, THANK YOU!!!!!

 
At 12/09/2007 6:45 AM , Anonymous cindy b said...

Love your blog, from one soldiers mom to another! My family has been calling and telling me that AT&T cards are really hard to find(they are in the midwest), but I remember from the last deployment that was the only kind to use. To top it off, my son says he doesn't "need" anything!!!! Makes it really hard to shop for him. I will be sending him some requested 100% cotton thermal long johns(white) for flying time, and lots of goodies to share with his company. Thank you for getting the word out there!

 
At 4/28/2008 2:32 AM , Blogger ThePurpleSeal said...

Hi there,

I just found your blog, it was a great read! Just thought it may interest you to know, a while back i managed to find a british labels company who printed me some mailing labels for a really low price. If you are at all interested then it may be worth taking a look at their website.

 
At 11/10/2008 6:48 PM , Anonymous avery's girl said...

Greetings,

I am a "new" army girlfriend and was wondering what this year's holiday mailing deadlines are in terms of getting to Iraq. Any help would be appreciated!

 
At 11/10/2008 7:20 PM , Blogger Some Soldier's Mom said...

avery (that's one of my granddaughter's names!)

the 2008 edition of this post is up...
http://somesoldiersmom.blogspot.com/2008/11/christmas-packages-holiday-packages.html

the 2008 mailing dates can be found here
http://www.usps.com/holiday/shippingcalendar.htm?from=home_ftpromo&page=holidayintlmaildates

 
At 12/04/2008 9:39 PM , Blogger Jhon said...

It’s Christmas again!! A time to cherish the beautiful white snow, smiling snowman, brightness of the Christmas décor and the yummy candies and cakes! From November onwards it becomes impossible to forget that Christmas is coming. Well to be honest I personally wait for it so that I can return home to meet my parents and girlfriend of course!
With the passage of time lots of things about the celebration of Christmas has changed. I still remember when I was a kid, mom use to wait near the phone so that she becomes the first one to pick my brother call. We all use to have a fight as who is gonna be first to talk to him. Then I use to visit my relatives and friends with my parents who stayed near by.But now the net world has changed everything, especially the ecard trend. It’s so easy now to connect with our loved ones especially when you have so many ecard sites! One of free Christmas ecard site Being a new website meme4u.com really has fresh and cool greetings. The best part is if I write too meme4u.com regarding some card or idea they do take it seriously. Although the site has several errors but meme4u.com cards are really cool! So guys why don’t you check it out, you will also get the right ecard you are looking for! And if any one of you knows any other fresh ecard website do let me know!

 

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