The holidays are a time filled with friends, family, good food and presents. But it can be an entirely different experience for a soldier spending this season in another country. One of the best ways you can support our troops in the armed forces is by sending a military care package stuffed with reminders from home.
Here are some tips and tricks you need to know to put together and ship the ultimate care package for soldiers overseas.
Military Mail Cutoff Dates
The first step is to be aware of the military mail shipping deadlines to ensure that your care package gets to your soldier by Christmas. The Space Available Mail deadline is quickly approaching, so make sure you get all of your shopping, packing and sending done by Nov. 25 if that is the shipping option that best fits your needs.
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For additional 2015 USPS deadlines, check out our recent blog post on international holiday shipping.
The USPS is the only shipping service allowed to send packages to service members overseas. With this in mind, the Postal Service has made a free military care package kit available to families sending packages to soldiers this holiday season. The kit comes with Priority Mail boxes, Priority Mail tape, Priority Mail address labels and appropriate customs forms.
Packing similar items together is the best way to go, using one box for snacks, one box for toiletries, etc. Also, make sure to place all liquids in secured plastic bags so that they don’t ruin other items in the box if they leak. Last but not least, fill the package as much as possible to prevent items from shifting during the long journey.
Military Care Package Ideas
Just because service members can’t be at the holiday table this year doesn’t mean they can’t enjoy some festive snacks. Powdered hot drinks like cocoa, instant coffee and tea bags are especially appreciated in the winter months. Popular snacks include hard containers of chips, pretzels and nuts. Even though it can be tempting, forgo the chocolate if your service member is in a warm climate, as it will most likely melt before the package reaches its destination.
As for clothing, fingerless gloves, stocking caps and long underwear are best to send to service members in cold climates. Goggle-style sunglasses will be valued if your service member is deployed in a hot climate. And while not the most exciting of items, personal care products like toothbrushes, shampoo and lip balm are welcome year-round.
Perhaps the most important thing to send is reminders of home. This can be a child’s art project, photos of family members, a hometown newspaper, hand-written letters and more. Whether you’re sending a package to a loved one or delivering good cheer to unknown service people through a charity organization, these special touches can be a much needed morale booster for those missing home.
Looking for even more ideas? Check out the top 7 essentials for a military care package.
If you want to spread the love this holiday season, Operation Gratitude annually sends over 150,000 care packages to new recruits, veterans, wounded warriors, caregivers and service members deployed overseas. You can sign up to donate, volunteer and request care packages online.
Endicia customer Soldiers’ Angels has over 15 programs that support both military families and deployed service members. This organization sends care packages, organizes an Adopt-A-Family program that supports families’ holiday needs, writes letters to deployed soldiers and more.
AdoptaPlatoon is another organization that accepts contributions to send to service members who may not have family members to send care packages to them. This organization also has other helpful information on their website such as how to fill out a customs form, care package ideas, and more.
For more help navigating international shipping, check out our International Shipping page.
(Source of Feature Image: Military.com)