There’s something about the Christmas season that brings our active military members to mind. Perhaps it’s the reminder that they won’t be home for Christmas or the spirit of giving common this time of year to give to those in need. But many of us don’t think of it until right about now, just as the season begins for us, but the mailing season to get packages or letters to units in time for Christmas started a couple weeks back. Is it too late? No, but you’d have to act fast with a Dec. 3 and 10 deadline for most military locations. Too short of a deadline? Show your support by donating to organizations that aid our soldiers in a variety of ways. Or send the package or letter anyway. There’s never a time of year packages or encouragement aren’t heartily welcomed. If anything, the Christmas-season prod to think of our soldiers should be a reminder that the best support we can give them is the support we give them all year long.
Send a care package
Care packages are a great way to help, as the name suggests, take care of soldiers’ needs as well as showing soldiers you care. Christmas-delivery deadlines for shipping most Priority Mail care packages via USPS (the recommended choice) is Dec. 10, but shipping to APO/FPO zip code 093 locations (Iraq/Afghanistan/Middle East) is Dec. 3.
If you’ve never shipped a care package or package to an APO/FPO address before, there are a few things you need to know, such as what/how to pack, how to address to the package, how to fill out a customs form for international shipments, etc. But as someone who has done it myself, I assure you it’s not difficult to learn.
There are a great many resources online to help put together your package. USPS (who has free and shipping-discounted APO/FPO flat-rate Priority Mail boxes available) is a good place to start. Also check out a suggestion of what to pack and thorough instructions for every step of assembling your care package.
Don’t know where to send your package? Any Soldier is a great organization that allows you to individually select a soldier in need of a care package.
Donate to programs who send care packages
If you don’t have time to put together your own care package, you can alternately make a donation to one of multiple organizations around the country who assemble and ship care packages with the funds or items you provide. Ourmilitary.mil offers an extensive list of organizations who send care packages including (but certainly not limited to) Operation Care and Comfort, Operation Troop Aid, Sacramento Blue Star Moms, and Give2Troops, who accepted item donations but doesn’t have enough funds to ship the packages.
Whether sending your own or utilizing the efforts of an organization, sending a care package means more to a soldier than you may know. As one Corporal said on Project Thank You, “Packages like these, from complete strangers, remind us about why we do what we do and raise our spirits.”
Send a letter of support and encouragement
One of the absolute best things you can give a soldier is a letter of support and encouragement. Operation Gratitude and A Million Thanks both have great letter-sending programs, complete with tips of what to say and where to send your letter. So send your own thoughtful letter of thanks or gather a few kids to show their appreciation with cards to our soldiers. Mail deadlines are the same as care packages so act fast!
Give to organizations that help our soldiers and veterans
Our troops endure many hardships in their effort to protect our country. Whether adjusting to injuries such as a lost limb, dealing with emotional trauma or financial burdens, or having a difficult time integrating back into civilian life, the needs of our soldiers and their families are great. By donating to a program such as the USO or CAUSE, you are supporting our troops and wounded veterans in a unique and enduring way. Learn about the various programs out there at Military.com, who provides a list of organizations and details about the services they provide.