This post is a resource for creating a deployed military care package filled with thanks and moral support. Use this guide to find the most requested care package contents, tips for successful packaging, ideas for care package themes, and links to smile inducing treats that can handle the travel and weather.
Today is national Day of the Deployed, a special day to honor the men and women of our armed forces who have been deployed serving their country far from home and family. Today acknowledges their sacrifices and the sacrifices of their families.
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I don’t have a friend or relative in the military. I am pro peace, anti war, and anti guns. But, I am also an active volunteer with Soldiers’ Angels, sending weekly letters and a monthly care package to an “adopted” deployed service member. For me, sending a deployed military care package isn’t about politics. I send deployed military care packages as a thank you and as reassurance that the sacrifices made by service members and their families are appreciated.
I am a firm believer in the restorative powers of a care package, even a care package sent by a stranger! In letters and emails from deployed military back to Soldiers’ Angel volunteers, troops emphasize the huge positive impact a care package and kind words can have on morale. Something to look forward to. A bright spot in often difficult circumstances.
The ideas shared in this resource guide are applicable whether you know the care package recipient or not. My perspective is that of a volunteer sending care packages to strangers. However, the deployed care package themes listed can be easily personalized for sending to friends and family, and the tips for contents and packaging apply to everyone!
Frequently Requested Items for a Deployed Military Care Package
As a Soldiers’ Angels volunteer, I often don’t hear back from my “adoptee”. I can use their zip code to identify their general location (for weather and mailing times), but I may not know what their base conditions are like or what resources are available. Having a list of most requested items helps fill a care package with things that are most likely to be useful. Service members all share with one another. Everything in deployed military care packages gets used by someone! These items are a great place to begin when gathering care package contents.
- Individual-packaged beef jerky. NO PORK.
- instant soup/hot cereal in a cup
- flavored snack crackers – like Trisket, Chickn-in-a-Bisket, Ritz, Wheat Thins, etc.
- snack sized boxes of cereal
- nuts, pumpkin seeds, or sunflower seeds, trail mix or granola bars (no chocolate chips)
- Packets of Instant Breakfast drink mix, water flavoring powders, Gatorade mix
- canned bean or cheese dip
- Seasoning and condiments such as hot sauce in a bottle or individual packets from fast food restaurants.
- dried fruit chips such as banana chips, freeze-dried strawberries, freeze-died blueberries
- energy drinks in the small containers
- Ramen Noodles
- Tea bags , coffee (ground) or instant coffee in individual packets
- Zinc oxide creme – tubes only
- Toothbrushes, tooth paste, floss pickers, mouthwash
- Shaving lotion
- Disposable razors , shaving lotion or cream (non-aerosol)
- Baby wipes
- Lip Balm/gloss
- Pain relievers
- Feminine hygiene products
- Eye drops
- Foot powder
- Glass cleaner or lens cleaning cloths (for cleaning sand off their glasses)
- Axe Body Spray
- Finger nail clippers
- First aid kits
- Small stuffed animal
- Movie CD’s
- Holiday decorations
- Board games
- Books / magazines/ puzzle and coloring books
- Letter writing supplies
- Pens/Mechanical pencils/ colored pencils/ pencil sharpener
What NOT to Send in a Deployed Military Care Package
Rules for what NOT to send are determined by the military, the postal service, and the deployment location. Follow the rules. You don’t want the service member to get in trouble and you don’t want customs to reject the care package, either discarding it or sending it back. The United States Postal Service provides a detailed listing of prohibited items by country. Add the APO/FPO zip code on this United States Postal Service site for a complete list of destination restrictions.
In addition, during the extremely hot weather in the desert, there are foods and ingredients that would melt and spoil in transit. For a detailed explanation and desert safe care package recipes please click HERE for the guide to Shipping Baked Goods in Hot Weather: Desert Safe Recipes
Some Military Regulations to Consider
- No alcohol
- No pornography
- No glitter
Some Postal Regulations to Consider
- No carbonated beverages
- No aerosol cans
- No fresh fruits or vegetables
- No live plants
Examples of Country Specific Regulations
- No pork or pork products (Islamic nations)
- No coffee (Germany)
For a helpful listing of dozens of creative care package themes, like the package images on this post, please click here to read the Military Care Package Ideas guide. The guide features suggestions for decorating themed care packages, plus fun and inexpensive themed contents. Special to The Monday Box deployed military care packages are recipes for baked goods that match each theme!
Packing Tips for Deployed Military Care Packages
Careful packing will help your deployed military care package arrive with the contents in the best possible condition.
Filling the Care Package
- It is best not to mix personal care items and food in the same care package. Scents from personal care items can be absorbed by food if packed together. Think soap scented brownies.
- Strongly scented baked goods can also transfer their smell to other baked goods in the box. Mint is an especially strong scent that is best mailed in a box full of mint items.
- Check the weather at the deployment location. Keep in mind that the package may travel in an unairconditioned military mail vehicle in desert heat (up to 150° F in the mail vehicle!) .If an item would melt in your car in the summer, it will melt in the care package. Take precautions. Avoid sending anything that could melt during hot weather months. Wrap each item carefully in plastic bags to contain any possible melting.
- Pack all liquid items (lotions, etc.) and items that might melt in individual ziplock bags.
- Keep in mind that service members have limited storage (especially on ships). Send small, disposable items.
- Send some extra goodies for your service member to share.
Sealing the Care Package
- Before sealing the box, hold the flaps closed and gently shake the box. There should be NO movement inside the package. If there is movement, use packing material (tissue paper, bubble wrap, etc.) to fill any gaps between contents and between the contents and the top of the box.
- Use more tape than you think you need to seal the box. The boxes have a long journey ahead and will be tossed around numerous times. Extra packing tape helps keep the contents inside the box where they belong.
Some Helpful Links
Additional deployed military care package resource guides on The Monday Box
- Shipping Baked Goods in Hot Weather: Desert Safe Recipes
- Military Care Package Ideas : Fun and Easy Themes and Recipes
- Companies that ship to APO/FPO addresses
These websites offer additional information and inspiration for creating care packages for deployed military.
Recommended organizations that support deployed military