What to put in a military care package

  • by Karen Watkins
Photo courtesy The National Guard/Flickr.

For a number of years I sent care packages to the military personnel associated with members of my church – sons, daughters, grandchildren, nieces, nephews, in-laws. I tried to send a package every month. Some of the recipients were stationed in combat zones but others were in Europe or Okinawa or even as far away as Alaska!

Sometimes I got thank you notes or emails (but not always). The best gift I’ve ever received came from the son-in-law of one of my friends. He had had a U.S. flag flown in my name over his base at Fallujah, Iraq. He sent me the folded flag with a certificate as a thank you for all the care packages. It now hangs in a place of honor in my office.

Another time, a grandson of one of our church members flew up to Oregon from Georgia to see her while he was on leave. He came to church with her – a rare occurrence – to meet the person who had been sending him the care packages. The Lord used care packages to open doors to his heart.

If you want to send care packages to soldiers, airmen, sailors, Marines or Coast Guardsmen, I suggest getting names and addresses from your church or your friends. (Sorry, Cru Military cannot supply any to you.) It is truly a meaningful gift.

Some suggestions for care package contents are listed below, but use your imagination. I’ve been told that the recipients usually share the contents with their buddies, so you will be encouraging more than just one person. Most soldiers have some access to a PX, but they can’t always get what they are hankering after. Besides, the biggest gift in a care package is the knowledge that you cared enough to send one.

  • Candy, such as Twizzlers, Jelly Belly, Gardettos, but not chocolate (it melts!)
  • Dried meats, such as jerky
  • Food bars, such as granola bars, etc.
  • Gum
  • Nuts
  • Dried fruit
  • Jelly, not in glass jars
  • Peanut Butter, not in glass jars
  • Crackers, cookies (in small boxes)
  • Instant oatmeal
  • Condiment packets, such as honey, hot sauce, creamer, sugar, ketchup, mayonnaise
  • Salad dressing, not in glass bottles
  • Coffee, ground or instant
  • Hot chocolate
  • Tea
  • Drink mix packets, such as iced tea or lemonade. In particular the ones that come in little packets for water bottles.
  • Skin lotion with SPF
  • Lip protection, such as Chapstick
  • Books, magazines (NO pornography)
  • Stationery, notebooks, pens
  • Insect repellent
  • Fly traps
  • Over-the-counter medications, such as anti-diarrheal, antibiotic cream, antacids, ibuprofin, acetaminophen, cold/cough drops, etc.
  • Rapid Deployment Kit – This “kit” contains a camo-covered New Testament, a special Daily Bread for the military and a gospel tract.
  • Handwritten personal notes. One grade-school-age Sunday School class sent a box full of hand-made cards with notes the children wrote “to a soldier.”

I used the Flat Rate boxes from the Post Office. They aren’t that big, so don’t send giant size packages of goodies. Because military personnel posted overseas have APO or FPO addresses, packages are mailed as though they are domestic mail. Do not send any valuables. There have been occasions where packages do not arrive as expected.

The goal is that they know they are remembered! Send them with prayer.