I recently sent a care package to my old high school buddy, Travis, who just started a year-long tour in Iraq.  I had never sent a care package before, and it turned out to be an educational project.  It’s a great project if you have middle school and older kids, too.  It gets them thinking about what everyday life is like for the soldiers, and of course there are the lessons in geography and politics to be had, too.

If you don’t know anyone stationed overseas, you can still send a letter or care package to show your support.  AnySoldier.com will match you up with a member of the military who could use some love from home.  If you do want to send a care package, they will help you figure out what to send.

In my case, Travis had a specific request for healthy food.  He works nights searching cars at a military checkpoint and misses breakfast and lunch because he is sleeping. Healthy food that ships well to a hot place is hard to find, but I finally settled on these items:

  • dried fruit
  • protein bars
  • cereal and fruit bars
  • granola
  • Horizon’s single-serving, organic milk.  (These are great because they are ultra-pasturized and don’t require refrigeration)

All these items turned out to be pretty heavy once they were packed – almost 10 pounds. I expected the shipping to be around $30, but it was only $14.  However, the postal clerk informed me that you can use the USPS flat rate shipping boxes to send items to military addresses.  When you use those boxes, the most you will be charged is $11.95 for up to 70 pounds  (that’s a lot o’ mail!).  The boxes are free and available at the post office or on the USPS website.

One other thing to note: You’ll need to fill out a customs form when sending a package to an overseas military address.  The post offices have them sitting out with all the other shipping forms, so you can fill it out before you get up to the clerk.

So, brightening a compatriot’s day is not as hard as you might think.  It might make your day a little brighter too.