Alright, readers, it’s time to put your stockpile to use for a fantastic cause!
I received an email from a reader about a group of female Army soldiers stationed in Afghanistan from Fort Lewis, Washington (JLBM) that need our help. There is a camp of about 3000 soldiers being served by a small team of officers working to prevent and treat combat fatigue and other stress (find out more about Combat Stress Control here). Many of these folks have been on multiple deployments and with the war’s unpopularity, these soldiers are really struggling.
We have a specific request to help out a group of about 300 female soldiers. These women have limited access to personal care items, including tampons. For example, they only have sanitary pads available and considering that they are serving in the desert, well, as you can imagine, they are not functioning in the most ideal working conditions. Yes, I am also wondering who exactly is making the supply decisions for these women…
Basically, our girls need our help. These soldiers have low morale and need to know that people care about what they are doing and how they are doing.
As we approach Memorial Day, I believe one of the best ways to remember those who have made the ultimate sacrifice for our country is to honor those who are sacrificing their lives daily for our country.
I have a crazy idea. Let’s send out 300 care packages, packed with tampons and other essentials, to let these women know that they are valued and cared for. Would you consider sending one of the 300 needed packages this week as your family’s way of acknowledging Memorial Day?
Here’s what you need to do:
Raid your stockpile and hit the store to fill a box with some (or all) of the following items:
- Tampons* (I don’t have any tampons, so I used pads for the visual, but go for tampons)
- Baby wipes* (Once a week showers, so baby wipes are a hot commodity!)
- Body wash, soap (bag soap up several times so it doesn’t stink up the entire box), facial cleanser
- Toothpaste, oral care products
- Razors (don’t send shaving gel as it will probably explode in transit)
- Body lotion, facial lotion with SPF
- Sun block
- Hair ties/bands, bobby pins, hair gel
- Foot spray, baby powder
- Lip care
- First aid items, pain reliever
- Snacks (don’t send chocolate, perishable food, etc. Remember, it’s a desert and chocolate melts). DO NOT SEND HOMEMADE ITEMS. Soldiers will throw them away for safety.
- Hard, individually wrapped candy, gummies, fruit snacks, cookies, dried fruit, trail mix, granola bars, microwave popcorn, instant oatmeal, Top Ramen, etc.
- Meat & cheese packs that don’t need refrigeration (like Hickory Farms items). Do not send pork products.
- Gum, mints
- Flavored drink mix packs (Crystal Light, Gatorade mixes, MIO), instant coffee (Starbucks VIA), 5-Hour Energy
- Washcloths, hand towels
- DVDs, books, magazines, music CDs, audio books (these items can be used)
- Drawings from your kids or grandkids, a picture of your family or your dog
- An encouraging note or card. Include your email and mailing address so your soldier can correspond with you if she wishes. Including a pre-addressed envelope, paper and a pen will increase the chances your soldier will reply. Please note that you may not receive a reply. These women are busy and may not find the time to send a letter or an email.
*These are items the officer serving these women specifically asked for.
I found a suggestion that everything be put in double baggies to keep odors from leaking and so anything that melts doesn’t contaminate the entire box. Put the item in one baggie and seal it, then put it in another baggie upside down and seal it.
Next, get a customs form from the Post Office. There is a form available online, but some people are having a hard time making the field limitations work.
Also, get a large flat rate Priority Mail box from the Post Office. If they aren’t available in the display at the front, ask for one from the back. My post office was out of regular large boxes, but had a special military box in the back. Ask for that if you’re having a hard time finding a regular one (either large box will work).
You will pay $13.45 shipping for a large flat rate box to a military post. I know, $13.45 is a lot of money, but I will not tolerate any belly aching about the cost involved. These women don’t have TAMPONS. Pony up the cash.
Now, cram that box full of as much stuff as you can. You’re paying the same price no matter how much it weighs, so try to break the record. Don’t worry about brands, or sizes or anything like that. If your specific recipient doesn’t need an item, she will pass it along to someone who does.
Lastly, fill out your customs form and mail that bad boy out (if you’re nervous about the customs form, just ask the post office clerk to help you when you mail it). Here’s the address:
UPDATE as of February, 2014: I have lost my contact, so I suggest you check out AnySoldier.com where you will find a gigantic list of overseas military personnel asking for care packages and other assistance for their unit or people under their command. You will find requests from as early as today listed. You’ll have to register with the site and request the address information, but I believe this to be the very best and up-to-date resource available. Find the list of personnel here.
This small team of officers will make sure the boxes get to the women serving in the field.
My father served in the Navy during the Vietnam War. I will probably never know the sacrifice my dad (and my mom living with him all these years after his service) truly has made serving our country. In my dad’s honor, our family will be packing and sending out ten care packages this week.
So, are you in? If so, leave a comment and let us know how many boxes you are sending and if you’re doing it in honor of anyone. Be sure to take a picture of your box before you send it out and email it to me or post it on our Facebook page. I will share some pictures with all of you over the next week!
Your package will be appreciated anytime you send it, but we would love if the first 300 were sent by May 30 (Memorial Day).