Veterans United Network’s Christy Lewis breaks down some of the best ways to make the perfect care package for your soldier.
Hi everyone, I’m Christy Lewis with Veterans United Network. Right now, we’re putting together a few care packages to send to deployed soldiers. We’ve got a lot of experience sending these out, so we wanted to share a few tips and tricks with you.
The best bang for your buck would be to go to your local post office and pick up some of these free boxes. They’re 12 by 12 by 5 inches deep. These are flat rate boxes- meaning you can make them as heavy as you want, and still pay the same shipping price, around six dollars.
Even though these boxes are small, you can send more than one at a time. Normally, the bigger the box, the longer it takes to get to your soldier. These small boxes could make it there in about two weeks, instead of six weeks for the larger ones.
So let’s get to what goes inside the boxes:
Of course, you’ll want to make sure it’s all non-perishable and unlikely to melt. Beef jerky is a very popular item.
Sauces and spices are pretty popular, too. Your soldier probably gets tired of eating MREs. Sending their favorite hot sauces, spices, and even taco mix can give their meals a kick. Just make sure you send plastic bottles to reduce the risk of something breaking along the way.
Another thing you might not think about- when sending canned goods, pop-tops are the way to go. Most soldiers don’t have can openers.
You could also send some snacks to your soldier- individually wrapped ones usually keep longer and are convenient for grab-and-go situations. Stuff like granola bars, crackers, Pop Tarts…
Before you send any food that needs to be cooked, ask what your soldier has access to. Do they have a microwave? A hot plate? Bowls? Utensils?
This kind of oatmeal is perfect for sending overseas. You can make it on a hot plate, in a microwave, or with hot water. And you can do it in the pouch, so no bowls necessary.
Sending chili it good because it can be made in almost any cooking manner, too- microwave, hot plate, whatever.
Now for the sweet stuff
Sending candy can be tricky because of the high temps in the desert.
Almost any chocolate is off limits because of melting messes. You can send chocolate syrup if your soldier is desperate.
Try to send stuff that is individually wrapped or has a hard coating. And we also recommend sending a few items that can spruce up what your soldier drinks. Anything that can dissolve in water works great- lemonade, KoolAid, instant coffee.
Now, keep in mind all this stuff can get warm from the weather and the smells can permeate other items in the box. If you’re not careful, everything can taste like the coffee you packed, or everything can taste minty from the candy you packed. So your best bet is to pack it all in tightly sealed Ziploc bags.
We recommend you start a new separate box for health and beauty items. Some of the essentials your soldier will appreciate are over-the-counter meds. Ibuprofen for sore muscles, Tums, Icy Hot and allergy medication.
More basic items that could come in handy are Bandaids- regular ones and ones with a lot of cushion for blisters and foot sores.
The most requested item from almost any soldier- baby wipes. They work as napkins, quick showers, face wipes, quick cleanups, anything. You almost never want to send a care package without these.
As far as entertainment goes, send your soldier sports magazines, movies, cards, handheld games, board games. Batteries are another good item to send because there’s almost always a need for them- double A’s and D batteries.
Some people may have never played crossword puzzles and word searches when they were home, but actually enjoy getting them during a deployment.
Remember, all this stuff is pretty standard. Feel free to add/subtract whatever you want to make your package more personal for your loved one.
For more care package ideas and tips check out our Military Family channel.