CHRISTMAS PACKAGES, HOLIDAY PACKAGES, MAILING DATES, GUIDELINES FOR THE MILITARY TROOPS
Adopt a Soldier
and our friends in the UK -- Help for Heroes
Also, please check with your local Veterans hospital or Veterans Center... they all have programs for the holidays (consider volunteering!! Our veterans love company!)
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.
- For packages, print on one side only with the recipient’s address in the lower right portion ZIP Codes 093XX and 964XX are currently unavailable for electronic labels. AND DON'T FORGET the Customs forms.
- Place a return address label inside the package.
- The earliest deadline is for troops that are serving in the Iraq [and] Afghanistan area,” said Al DeSarro, spokesman for the western region of the U.S. Postal Service. “You want to send all your holiday mail and packages [to those areas] by Dec. 4.”
Now for the goodies stuff:
- Individual packets of hot chocolate, cider or hot soup mix…
- Candy (bite sized, individually wrapped, all kinds -- any kind)
- AT&T Phone Cards (keep in mind that these cards are sold in minutes but calls from Iraq & other places are charged in "units" which are really just multiples of minutes -- so buy cards with LOTS of minutes. You can check out the pre-paid cards and the "unit" charges HERE
- Hand held games (battery games with batteries, please)
- Small puzzle books, coloring 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
- DO NOT SEND Home baked goods unless you know the soldier/Marine personally (I understand that soldiers are advised to discard home baked goods from strangers -- for safety reasons. ) If you are sending baked goodies, pack brownies and cakes in bread slices or package in tins and wrap in plastic wrap -- vacuum sealing works GREAT (but freeze your cakes/breads, etc. FIRST or the vacuum will crush it! Plus it stays fresher!)
- Army & Air Force Exchange Service
- 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...
- Shatterproof ornaments (Kohls, K-Mart, Wal-Mart, Target all sell these)
- Lights (small wattage)
- Small artificial trees
- 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.)
- 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.
- small pillows
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.
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 -- our most favorite Angel!!)
HERE is the link to my 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
Use FLAT RATE BOXES from the US Postal Service. These cost $10.95 (I think that's what they cost now) 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!!) Postage rates to APO and FPO are at DOMESTIC mailing rates -- not international rates... so if you're just sending a card/s it's regular First Class Postage.
Don't forget the Customs Forms:
- every package to Iraq or Afghanistan 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.
- 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.
SHOW YOU CARE -- THAT IT'S NOT JUST ABOUT YOUR CAR MAGNET -- AND DO JUST ONE THING FOR OUR TROOPS THIS HOLIDAY SEASON... JUST ONE THING.
PS Feel free to link away... copy & paste this... email this... print this. Spread the word!
And feel free to add suggestions and tips in the comments !!