Sending care packages to deployed soldiers overseas is an easy way for loved ones to send a little piece of home to their family members serving overseas.
Even if you don’t have a family member deployed, sending care packages to a complete stranger shows them that you appreciate their service to our country.
Unfortunately, rounding up items to put into care packages can be expensive. Trust us, we know. We spend hundreds on postage every quarter, but it’s our partners who make that happen.
If you’re unable to help BR Soldier Outreach or just want to go the DIY route, here are seven ideas that you can use to send care packages on your own. All you need is a little creativity and discounts offered by your favorite stores.
Here are seven military care package ideas to get you started:
Contact the post office.
Before you can start creating a care package, you need to figure out how you will ship it.
Fortunately, The United States Postal Service (USPS) offers a free “Military Care Kit” with the necessary supplies for sending packages overseas, including boxes, packing tape, and customs forms..
You will still be required to pay postage to send your packages.
Visit the USPS website to get your free kit, which will be shipped to you and arrive at your doorstep within 5 to 7 business days.
If you have any questions about what you can and can’t ship overseas, visit the USPS website.
Take some photos
Now that you’ve got shipping taken care of, here’s a great way to send your soldier a piece of home.
Take photos of your kids, pets, house, friends, family – anything that you think that they may be missing.
How should you send the photos to your service member?
You have a few options on how to get your photos to your soldier:
- Mail them high quality prints of the pictures
- If you’re sending a large number, consider putting them on a USB drive.
- Load them up on a photo-sharing site like Shutterly, Flickr, or Snapfish and create albums, calendars, and other photo gifts and send them to your soldier.
- Load images onto a digital picture frame so your soldier can view them anywhere they have power.
If you’d rather your photos to be professionally done, check in with local photographers. Some may offer discounted rates for military families..
If you’re in the Baton Rouge Area, Bobby Mayo Photography offers 1/3 ($25) off of his regular rate of $75 if you mention BR Soldier Outreach.
Send a taste of home.
Some will suggest baking cookies or pastries and sending them to deployed service members; however, we’ve found the best way to their stomach is by sending non-perishables such as:
- beef jerky
- trail mixes
- candy (it can melt – they don’t mind, will lick the wrappers, they love chocolate, and have a hard time getting it.)
- protein bars
- drink mixes
- hot sauce
Don’t forget hygiene products.
Deployed soldiers may have a PX or another place to get toiletries and other personal necessities, but it may not be the brands they like. Or they may need to pack for a mission on the field.
Go to your local drug store and load up on toiletries and personal items that you know your soldier loves, such as:
- body wash
- hand sanitizer
- lip balm
- foot powder
- baby wipes
Here’s a tip we learned: If you’re shipping any liquid items or items that are prone to leaking, put them inside a Ziploc bag to protect everything else in your shipping box. Also chips and food items, will absorb “smelly” items, such as toothpaste and soap and should be sent in a different box than food items.
Give them some entertainment.
Nothing beats a hard day in the field than relaxing in your bunk and winding down.
Give your service member something to entertain them self with, such as:
- crossword puzzles
- handheld games
- other electronic gadgets.
Personalize your package
What better way to show your love to your soldier than to include some homemade artwork from the kids?
Not only will it provide a morale boost to your soldier, but it also allows the kids to stay connected with their missed parent or loved one. Plus it gives parents an opportunity to teach patriotism and to pray for deployed soldiers.
This is one reason we do things like our annual Valentine’s Day and Christmas Cards campaigns. We have letter after letter from men and women overseas explaining to us how those cards made their day.
When buying art supplies for your project, be sure to shop around, as some stores may offer discounts if you explain to them what you’re doing.
No matter whether you’re sending photos, candy, toiletries, or just a note to remind your deployed soldier of home, they’ll appreciate it.
We hope that you’ve found this guide to affordable care package items useful.
If you want to be part of a bigger care package operation, consider joining us here at BR Soldier Outreach.
There’s always room for one more!