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Friday, November 30, 2012

Holiday Packages for the Military

While everyone is out running around buying holiday gifts for friends and family we should take a minute and think of the men and women serving in the military far from home.  These soldiers need "holiday cheer" from their friends, family and those they do not know.

Below is a list of Do's and Don't's regarding what and how to mail to the troops.  It is a great guideline furnished by The Kitchn

Don't send homemade goods to soldiers you don't personally know. If you plan to send homemade cookies or treats, you MUST have the name and address of an individual soldier. Troops are instructed to throw away homemade food from people they don't know.
Don't mix food and non-food contents. Because these items are often in the same box for weeks at a time, smells mingle and can ruin food items, i.e. soapy-tasting cookies.
Don't send perishable foods, including meat, poultry, fish, soft cheeses, dairy, or any other foods that cannot safely be left at room temperature for more than two hours. This includes cookies and cakes with a cream or custard filling.
Don't send alcohol.
Don't send pork or pork products, since they are forbidden for religious reasons.
Don't send high-moisture foods, like pumpkin bread or soft cookies, because of their susceptibility to molds.
Don't send fragile cookies, cakes, or pies, since they probably won't make the trip intact.
Don't send foods containing chocolate, since they could melt.
Don't pack or send any food in glass or other breakable containers.

Do pack foods in clean paper boxes, metal food tins, or plastic boxes or bags.
Do send dried beef or poultry items like beef jerky, turkey jerky or beef slim.
Do send dense and dry baked goods like biscotti, nut bars, shortbread, ginger snaps, crackers, chips, commercially packaged cakes and cookies, and high-sugar goods like fudge, pralines, toffee, and baklava. (The high sugar helps prevent bacterial growth.)
Do vacuum-seal any homemade goods if you want to be EXTRA sure they'll still be safe to eat when they arrive at their destination.
Do send dried nuts, seeds, and fruit, like trail mix.
Do send quality coffee and tea!
Do send canned specialty foods like anchovies, tuna, sardines and dips and spreads.
Do send dehydrated soups, drink mixes, and condiments in unbreakable jars.
Important note:
The United States Postal Service is the only mail service allowed to send packages to stationed troops. International rates do not apply to military mail delivery.
• Use a USPS Priority APO/FPO/DPO boxes to ship items overseas.
• When mailing homemade baked goods, make sure each piece is individually wrapped and then packed into an unbreakable container. Place the gifts in a sturdy box and cushion with packing peanuts or foam. Seal it securely with packing tape.
• Address labels should be readable from 30 inches. Print CLEARLY. Packages must be addressed to an individual service member. Cover the label with clear tape.
• Label the package "Fragile" and "Perishable Food" in three places: above the address, below the postage stamp, and on the back or bottom of the package.
• Fill out a custom form. Use a PS 2976-A form.
• It usually takes a week to 11 days for packages to arrive at operating bases in Iraq, Afghanistan, or Kuwait. It can take much longer to arrive at various outlying bases in Afghanistan. It's recommended to send Christmas packages no later than December 7 to ensure arrival by December 25th.

Below are suggestions for items to be sent.

According to Operation Shoebox, soldiers look forward to receiving the following snacks and other foods: candy, instant beverages, sugar packets, energy bars, beef jerky, canned fruit in pop-top cans, small boxes of cereals, cookies, granola bars, gum, instant oatmeal, toaster pastries, any flavor instant noodle soup, ravioli in pop-top cans and tuna kits. Soldiers can also use ready-brew coffee packs.

Troops also need dental supplies such as toothpaste, toothbrushes, mouthwash and floss. Books, magazines and newspapers are appreciated, too, in addition to correspondence supplies and hygiene items such as eye drops, nose spray, baby wipes, deodorant, feminine hygiene products, hairbrushes, hand lotion, foot powder, waterless hand sanitizer, disposable razors, nail clippers, cotton swabs, shampoo, heavy-duty tissues, acetaminophen and travel-size body wash.

Soldiers have also been known to ask for plastic spoons, small American flags, zippered plastic baggies, batteries, bug spray (must be packaged in zippered plastic bags), duct tape, small flashlight with extra light bulbs, personal-size battery-powered fan, disposable camera, insect repellent, prepaid phone card, shoe cushion insert, calf-high white socks, fly strips and fly swatters.

Read more: Care Package Suggestions for Soldiers |

I think that sending a holiday package to a soldier would be simply lovely.

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