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Feb 28, 2008 08:58 AM

Package to a soldier

We have been thinking about sending boxes to some soldiers that we know of that are now serving in Iraq. But, I have no clue about what would be desired or needed other than candy or gum. Any suggestions?

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  1. Speaking from personal experience (retired 20 year Air Force) -
    Any thing that can survive the shipping and delays.

    Homemade cookies
    hard cheeses
    Sausages (to go with the cheese)
    Crackers (to go with the sausage and cheese)

    Soldiers, Sailors, Marines, and Airmen are always happy to receive anything from home that is sent with love and caring.
    "Care Packages" are often the first mail opened and will usually be shared among all members of the unit (so send large packages).

    Thank you from a former military member for your thoughts of those serving their country.

    1. The original comment has been removed
      1. Check this site for a list. They also have a list of what not to send

        Also know, if the address you are sending it to is in the US - you can use those flat rate boxes the post office has - about $9 that way you don't have to worry about the weight.

        I sent the following items to my cousin
        Toilet paper
        Sweetened Drink Mixes
        packets of hot sauce
        Pouches of Tuna/Salmon
        Packaged rice krispie treats
        Fruit leather
        Hand sanitizer
        Wet wipes
        lip balm

        If you don't want to run around to all different stores to get the stuff, you could order from - they have individual sizes of sauces, cereals etc. Have it shipped to you and then pack the stuff in your box

        1 Reply
        1. re: LisaN

          LisaN's list is good. While my son was in Iraq he begged us for "real food" not snacks. And since I knew the guys he was with all shared out their goodie boxes I would send him meals that would feed at least 4. He had access to a microwave but no real cooking facilities.

          One meal I sent him was a Taco dinner: Vacuum sealed packages of already spiced hamburger, boxes of ready shaped tortillas, bottles of the chunkiest salsa and hot sauce, a couple of cans of diced tomatoes, I opted for Cheez-Whiz because I knew it would travel without a problem.

          Another meal I sent was vacuum sealed foil packets of lemon pepper salmon, a bottle of lemon juice, a bottle of squeezy margarine, several cans of asparagus.

          And... pouched chicken, a jar of alfredo, a can of parmesan, dried spinach pasta and a microwave gadget for cooking the pasta. We also did a variation on this with canned clams and shrimp.

          Included were instructions of how to put the meals together. We sent him several other meals that we were able to assemble out of the array of precooked stuff on the market.

          I believe it's Zatarain's that puts out a number of rice concotions already cooked in a boilabag type of affair.

          There's lots of options out there that will travel well to the guys and we enjoyed exploring the aisles

          Non- refridgerated pudding cups, fruit cups in water, microwave dessert bowls in the flour/baking aisle, dried frut and nuts ("Pleeeze tell Gramma not to send any more raisins!"). Any snack that comes in a can like Pringles.

          Another thing we did for condiments since he didn't have a fridge was to get our local restaurant to order mayo, ketchup, relish and mustard packets for us.
          Son converted these into "hollandaise sauce" with the lemon juice and "Thousand Island dressing" as well as the normal uses. He could open as many packets as he needed and the rest would still be fresh and sealed at room temp (or desert temp).

          Powdered gatorade was a biggie and we sent other powdered drinks as well

          Any kind of dried sausage like beef pork products! Bridgeford brand traveled well

          Son said he was able to get fresh veggie and fruit stuff in the local markets so while I did send him some canned fruits and veggies he seemed to be able to procur fresh for himself regularly.

          AAA batteries and duct tape were high on his list of non-food items

          We packaged everything quite tightly so it wouldn't shift in transit, tried to send as little glass as possible and jars we did send were wrapped thickly in bubble wrap and positioned in the center surrounded on all sides by the boxed and plastic items. Everything went through without breakage.

        2. The site: allows soldiers to post what they'd like to receive, where they're located, and how many men and women in their group. It's a great place to go to see what soldiers are asking for, even if you don't send to the soldiers listed there specifically.

          a number of soldiers ask for jerky/sausages, nuts, and other high-protein items. another common request is for powered drink mix, b/c often soldiers are stationed places where the water isn't palatable.

          I've often sent snacks in tins or cylinders (pringles, etc) that will hold up well if the boxes they're in take some abuse.

          fyi: legal restrictions forbid sending any pork or alcohol products.

          1 Reply
          1. re: nc213

            NC--This might not be the proper place for this question, but can you vouch for the legitimacy of this site?
            My fiance and I have been thinking about sending stuff for some time now, but have been afraid our packages might end up somewhere other than with the soldiers.
            I would love to take the ideas on this board and send a care package. Thanks

          2. All excellent recs. I've sent pork jerky to Iraq no problem. Cigarettes too - even if your soldiers don't smoke, they can be bartered for other goods with the smokers or given as a gift. If they are Marines, send more as our devil dogs always get the crappiest assignment and do more with less equipment! If they are stationed in the Green Zone, they want for nothing.

            For shipping, the Post Office has a Priority Mail, flat rate box: all you can fit into the box for this one economical rate. It's not a huge box, rectangular in shape, not square.
            And you'll need to use the large US Custom forms (white), not the small green one.

            4 Replies
            1. re: scoopG

              That's something I never encountered even though I've been told often others have. I never filled out a customs form for any of the boxes I sent, nobody at the post office told me I had to, I was unaware I had to, and son received them all unopened. Don't know why or how this happened, it just did.

              1. re: morwen

                It may be just a NYC thing! But that's the way at my local P.O. here. In the early years of the Iraq war, the small green customs form was all they required. But around 2005-06 they demanded the larger white form - in which you must list and describe the items enclosed. I surmise that it might have had to do with alcohol being sent over there and they wanted perhaps more accountability on the part of the sender. Plus military inspectors could readily see the list of enclosed items and the form is in triplicate. Happy to hear your son received all his care packages! There is a certain amount of pilfering by the logistics people in Kuwait as some of mine never arrived.

                1. re: scoopG

                  We were living in Floyd, VA (extremely rural) at the time (2004) we were sending the packages and we were aware of the pilfering. A box from his wife containing a newly autographed book by one of his favorite writers arrived sans book. I took to emailing him a list of the box contents before I sent it so he would be able to compare it to the contents when it arrived. I also made sure that the box was paper wrapped and then furiously taped so if it arrived without a wrapper he would know it had been opened.

                  1. re: morwen

                    I know what you mean! I enclose my own packing list inside the box, tape another one to the outside of the box and then wrap that box up in brown postal wrapping paper. That means no flat rate special price from the USPS though. I think most of any pilfering occurs in Kuwait or at some mail depot in-country, not within the actual unit itself. Marines never steal, they only "acquire" things!