How to send a military care package

By , July 7, 2010 9:01 pm

Because I loved receiving mail while deployed, I try to send a couple military care packages off every year.  If you’ve never sent a package, there are a few key things you should know.  This list is for those military care package newbies.

1.  Who wants a military care package?  If you don’t have someone specific you’d like to send a package, check out these sites and find a military member that would love to receive a little gratitude in the mail.

Any Soldier- Created by a soldier.  They provide the mailing address, you provide the package
Operation Gratitude- Send in donations and they send off the package
Troop Care Pack- Send pre-packed items to soldiers

2.  What do I send?  As I detailed in my Christmas care package post, I loved getting:

Food: Drink mixes, beef jerky, trail mix, protein bars, gum, chocolate (Oct-Mar only or it melts)

Other stuff: Old magazines (no pornography please), quality ear plugs, bungee cords, chapstick, hotel-size hygiene products, baby wipes (in small containers), fly swatters or strips

Find out if your soldier is in the middle of nowhere or on a Forward Operating Base (FOB) and design the package around the service member’s current mission.

READ THIS:  Jot down everything you’re packing in the box before you seal it up as you’ll need that list for the next step.

3.  What are the postal requirements?  This is the only not so fun thing about sending care packages… custom forms.  Although letters don’t require a customs form, you’ll need one for a care package.  Hopefully, after viewing this guide, it will be easy-schmeasy.

Here’s a great outline for a customs form that I found:

Here’s my example form for my fictional Private Joe Snuffy care package (Nope, I never stay in those little hash marks with my letters and, yes, I always mix up the first name, last name part.)

Take a couple of these forms the next time you’re picking up stamps or running an errand by the post office and fill this baby out at home.  If you’re like me and you always mess up the first one (case in point above), it will be a lot easier to do it again without angry peeps in line behind you.  Also note that last checked box as it sends the package back to you if your service member moved or came home before the box arrived.

Oh, and just so you know, sending a box “Priority” or “Overnight” only means quick delivery to the port in the United States.  Once it gets into the military mail system, there is no such thing as priority.

4.  When do I send a package?  NOW!  O.K., if you can’t send one right this second, think about sending one this summer.  There really isn’t anything better than receiving mail when you’re deployed.  Packages need at least two weeks to arrive at their destination so plan ahead for holidays, especially Christmas.

Don’t think you have time to send a care package right now?  Send a service member a thoughtful email through USO (United Service Organization).  It only takes a few seconds to express your gratitude for our heroes.

Comment if you have additional questions or tips.  Happy packing!

*** UPDATE: For security reasons, leave the rank off the package and customs form and instead just write the soldier’s first and last name. ***

© 2010 – 2012, FROM MILITARY TO MOM. All rights reserved.

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18 Responses to “How to send a military care package”

  1. Melissa says:

    This is AWESOME!!! Thank you, thank you, thank you for posting this!!! Just what I need! :)

  2. Loretta says:

    Thanks for information. I have the priority rate military envelopes, but I didn’t know you had to have special customs forms. My niece and nephew just joined this year and I want to send them something special.

  3. Alyssa says:

    No problem, ladies! Remember that those priority envelopes only get your letter to the port a day or two faster than regular mail. From there USPS hands over the envelope to the military postal units and they don’t have a priority system. Tell your niece and nephew thanks for their service!

  4. Jeremy says:

    Brilliant! Now I know what to do.

  5. Brandi says:

    Alyssa do you mind if I share the link to your blog in our next FRG newsletter? I know a lot of the wives would love it :)

  6. Alyssa says:

    @Jeremy- Thanks! Although brilliant might be stretching it.

    @Brandi- Of course… I’d be honored :)

  7. Alyssa says:

    Here’s another tip from Brandi. USPS gives a discount that only applies to the Priority Mail Large Flat Rate Box (12″ x 12″ x 5-1/2″). When sent to APO or FPO, it’s $12.50 instead of $14.50. Thanks for the info, Brandi!

  8. Debbie says:

    Thank you Alyssa I know how much these packages mean to the soldier as I have sent numerous to my son and his infantry throughout his deployment. Thank you so much for sharing your knowledge to make it easier for those that had no idea how to do this. You have made it easy steps for them. much appreciation.

  9. Alyssa says:

    Thanks for the comment, Debbie, and please tell your son thanks for his service!

  10. Jeremy says:

    Alyssa, (that feels weird)

    This is a great blog entry. I’m always using it as a reference to how to send a care package. I link it all the time to our extended military family on Soldier of the Day.

  11. kimpunkrock says:

    I sent some DVD’s through any soldier.com. It is a great site to send something for those to enjoy.

    My stuff went to Afghanistan. This post has inspired me to send more. I sent two classic world war two movies about the battle of the bulge.

  12. Alyssa says:

    DVDs are an awesome addition to a care package. I watched the Godfather series for the first time during my first deployment.

  13. Amanda says:

    Does anyone have experience sending small flat rate boxes? The PO says they require the smaller version of the customs form. I have seen a lot of step by step examples for how to fill out the long form, but not the short form.

    I want to start supporting a group of soldiers through Anysoldier.com and want to make sure I get the postal end of it right!

    Thanks for the great post!

  14. Alyssa says:

    Thanks for the comment, Amanda. I haven’t had experience with those but will check into it.

  15. Kim says:

    Can you tell me how I can find a couple soldiers to send care packages to without joining a web group and having to pay? Thanks

  16. Alyssa says:

    Best way is to start talking to your friends. Somebody knows somebody that has somebody deployed. Thanks for thinking of the troops and Happy Veterans Day!

  17. Bridget says:

    Kim, Our family chose to go through http://www.adoptaussoldier.org and they sent us a soldier that was just sent overseas and we have been emailing and writing letters and sending care packages. It’s been a great experience for the kids.

  18. Alyssa says:

    Thanks for the tip, Bridget!

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