If you have a family member who is serving in the military, or know of someone who is serving in our military, and even if you don't - I think you'll find this interesting.
A couple of weeks ago Chablis was having a bad day. She was walking around like a mope and complaining about life in general and I got a little ticked off at her. I told her that if she was so unhappy with her life, then she should go volunteer somewhere and do something for someone else. I said if she would do something that would make a difference in someone else's life, then maybe it would make her feel better about herself. Well, she actually listened to me, got on the computer and came back to me the next day with an idea that "Blew my Mind!"
She found out about an organization called "Any Soldier.com." Any Soldier lets you support military personnel in any of our armed forces. YOU pick the branch of service, YOU pick the unit, YOU pick what you want to send to them.
Go to their website and click on "WHERE TO SEND." A drop down list appears and you can select Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine or Coast Guard. A list of contact names then appears. You can scroll down through them and check them out. Each name is the unit contact person. You send your package to them and write "ANY SOLDIER" on the address and the contact person will give your package to any soldier in their unit who is in need of a letter or care package. Believe me, there are HUNDREDS to choose from. When you click on a contact name you can look to the right of it and it tells you how many male and female members are in the unit.
Some of the contact people will even list what their units would like and you'd be surprised at what they ask for - basic toiletries, books, magazines, playing cards, coffee, snacks, socks, frisbees, balls, paper and pens. But the most requested things are letters. All they want is a connection to somebody back home. This is our military who does so much for us and is asking for so little in return. I think Chablis hit it out of the park on this one - I was immediately enthused.
Louie, Chablis, Tony and I went to the store that very night and shopped for all kinds of stuff. I tried to imagine what I would want to get in a care package if I was thousands of miles from home. We bought a lot of stuff and I have to tell you, my kids stepped up to the plate and used their own money for this.
I went to the post office and found out that for the military packages they will give you, for free, these military shipping boxes.
There is ONE standard price of $ 12.95 to then ship the box, no matter how much it weighs. So go ahead and jam pack it with stuff. It then gets shipped to the military APO center on the east or west coast and the military ships it from there.
When you pack up the box, don't mix things like soap or deodorant in the same box as one with snacks. The scent of toiletries will transfer over to the food. It takes approximately 2-3 weeks for the soldiers to receive the boxes and some of them are in areas of extreme heat. Think about that when you're buying stuff that might melt in a hot box. And be sure to include a personal letter to the soldier. You can talk about anything. I've been including some excerpts from my blog - kind of light and airy, not too personal, hopefully amusing. Then tape the crap out of the box. I've been told that they get tossed around pretty good, so I cover every edge with clear mailing tape.
You also need a customs form.
Go to the post office and get it ahead of time and take it home to fill out. Don't let it freak you out tho - it's easier than you think. You fill in your address info and then the military info. Now here's the part you have to remember..... You need to write down each item you pack in the box, as well as the weight of each item. I just grab a sheet of notebook paper, write down each item and it's weight as I'm packing it, and then include that list with the customs form. On the front of the form it asks you what's in the box. I just list books, magazines, snacks and see attached list. You have to put the total weight of the box and the value of the contents on the form. List it as a GIFT. You can also write on the form that if for some reason its undeliverable, then to send it to the nearest area chaplain. Otherwise you will get the box mailed back to you.
So far we've mailed out 4 boxes. Personally I don't know anyone who is serving in the military right now. If I did, I'd sure be sending them packages. It makes me feel good to do this. It makes my kids feel good to do this. These guys and girls in our military deserve our help and recognition. They seriously ask for so little and are putting their lives on the line every day.
If you read this I hope it moves you to send a box. Please feel free to post a link on your blog back to this so even more people will see it. Imagine how many boxes can go out if every person who reads this post sends out just one box. Or even a letter will do. Please help support our military.