Receiving a care package from home can be a real morale booster for a deployed soldier. Our soldiers will undoubtedly appreciate anything you send, but some things are particularly useful, and some items can’t be sent at all. Before putting together your care package, check the prohibited items list.
Priority Mail packages take 10 to 14 days to reach their country of destination. When choosing what to send, keep in mind possible delays as well as any climate extremes the package may be subjected to.
Packages cannot be larger than 108 inches in total circumference (total width all the way around plus total length all the way around). It’s best to limit your care packages to the size of a shoebox. You can pick up free Priority Mail boxes at your post office. Use the #4 or #7 size box.
Enclose a card listing the contents of the package. Include the recipient’s name and your name on the card. That way, if the package breaks open and the contents scatter during shipping, mail handlers will know what to repack.
Place items that may spill or leak in heavy plastic zipper-lock bags. Freezer bags work well and soldiers will likely find other uses for the bags.
Use reusable packing material. Cushion fragile items with small packages of tissues; copies of the local newspaper; plastic zipper-lock bags filled with popped popcorn; small beanbag-style stuffed toys (for soldiers to hand out to local children); or anything else you can think of that Soldiers will be able to use.
Write out the complete address.
1SG Michael Starnes
C CO 1-26 IN, 2 BCT Union III
APO AE 09348
1SG Kevin Klepac
HHC 1-26 IN, 2BCT Union III
APO AE 09348
1SG Raymond Geise
D co 1-26 IN, 2BCT
APO AE 09378
Do not send perishables to warm climates during spring or summer. Avoid sending anything that may spoil to a desert environment such as Iraq during warm months. The climate heats up rapidly between winter and spring and the temperature inside mail storage facilities may rise to over 120 degrees.
Food and drink:
Powdered drink mix. Soldiers appreciate anything that can be mixed with water. In cold months, send hot beverage mixes such as cocoa, instant coffee, tea bags, and creamer. During warmer months, sweetened drink mixes such as PowerAde, and Gatorade, are good choices.
Meal enhancers. Anything that can be mixed with MREs (Meals Ready to Eat), such as ramen noodles, seasoned salt, individual packets of hot sauce, mustard, relish, and ketchup.
Quick protein. Energy bars, tuna fish, sardines, non-perishable beef jerky, or beef summer sausage. Make sure the meat is labeled USDA Beef.
Snacks. Look for small, hard containers of chips, pretzels, and nuts. These are easier to carry than large containers. Avoid bags, which may burst under high pressure. If you do send large bags or containers, include small zipper-lock bags so soldiers can pack smaller amounts to carry. Snack cakes, cheese or peanut butter crackers, and cookies are in high demand. Salty snacks are good for those deployed in the desert, especially in the summer months, because they will encourage soldiers to drink more water.
Candy and gum. Avoid chocolate in spring and summer months, it will melt in the heat. Gum and other types of candy may soften and become gooey, so send these in plastic zipper-lock bags. Send plenty of extras for soldiers to share, especially if he or she comes into contact with children.
Personal care and clothing:
Choose small, travel-size containers of personal care products, and avoid aerosol cans. To keep liquids from spilling, cover the opening of the container with plastic wrap, then recap before shipping.
Toiletries. Toothbrush, toothpaste, dental floss, cotton swabs, shaving lotion, disposable razors, shampoo, individually packaged tissues.
Personal care. Individually packaged baby wipes are in high demand. Eye drops, lip balm, lotion, aspirin or other pain reliever, feminine hygiene products for women.
Foot care. Moleskin, medicated foot powder, athlete’s-foot ointment.
Additional comfort items:
Disposable hand warmers.
Cotton socks and underwear. Make sure the garments are made of 100 percent cotton rather than a cotton blend.
You can purchase a gift certificate to the exchange. The program, Gifts from the Homefront, allows you to buy your service member a gift certificate good at any military exchange in the world.
Entertainment and communication:
Reading material. Paperback books, current magazines, comic books.
Word games and puzzles. Crossword puzzles, word searches, jigsaw puzzles.
Games. Foam footballs and basketballs, Frisbees, Hacky Sacks, playing cards, yo-yos.
Electronics. Portable DVD player, CD player, DVDs, CDs, handheld electronic games.
Batteries. Size AA and D batteries are in high demand. If you’re sending a battery-operated device, such as a CD player, remove the batteries so the appliance doesn’t accidentally turn on during shipment.
Writing material. Notepaper, envelopes, pens, pencils, and stamps.
Reminders of home:
In every care package, be sure to include a personal note.
Here are some more ideas:
Children’s art projects from a local school or Sunday school.
The Sunday comics from your local newspaper.
Homemade goodies, such as cookies or brownies. Just be sure to pack these in an airtight container.
No Firearms – Replicas or Toys
No Ammunition – Exploded or Unexploded
No Weapons – Parts or Accessories
No Military TA-50 Gear
(Kevlar, Vest, Sappi Plates, Holsters, E-Tool, Gerber, Box Cutters, etc.
No Obscene Material
No Sexually Explicit Material
No Precious Metals