I realize it’s only September, and nobody is really thinking “Christmas” yet. However, in my corner of the world, I’m already planning for the Christmas season. You may wonder “Why?” Well, lend me a few minutes of your time and I will explain.
For over eight years, my husband and I have been “adopting” deployed troops. We send cards, letters, and care packages year-round. . Many of the troops we adopt have spent multiple holiday seasons deployed. When Christmas rolls around, we want to make their days a little brighter, knowing they will be spending yet another holiday season in harm’s way, far from home and loved ones.
Our general care packages contain simple items we all take for granted. A snack box may have trail mix, cookies, Crystal Light (or similar drink mix), nuts, granola bars, candy, sugarless gum, snack cakes, coffee & related products, freezer pops if our Warrior has access to a freezer, tuna pouches, microwavable meals, Ramen noodles…the list goes on and on. A hygiene box may contain shower products, shaving gear, socks, underwear, soft toilet paper, baby wipes, sewing kits, foot care items, powder, feminine hygiene for our female troops…again, the list goes on and on.
At this time of year, with Christmas looming just around the corner, we turn our thoughts to items like cards they can send home to their loved ones, treats, stockings to hang, strings of colored lights, trees to decorate (small, tabletop trees),ornaments to go with the trees, and gift items of all kinds. If it makes us think “Christmas” when we see it, it’s fair game for a care package. We start collecting “stuff” early because it takes time to plan, sort items, pack boxes, and get the customs forms filled out. The packages need to go in the mail before Thanksgiving in order to make sure they arrive in plenty of time for our troops to get the most good out of the Christmas items. It is not a “cheap” project, and we need all the help we can muster to make it a success. This is where you come in.
We currently have troops from Ft. Campbell KY, Ft. Hood TX, Ft. Carson CO, Ft. Stewart GA and Ft. Riley KS we send general care packages, cards, and letters to. These are the soldiers we will be sending Christmas packages to, as well. If we can get donations of items to go into the boxes, and donations to help with postage, we hope to be able to put together at least 35 boxes so each Soldier gets their own. Using the large flat-rate priority boxes, the cost of postage is $14.85 per box. On our own, we will be able to put together and send 5 boxes, which is one per group of Soldiers. Just think how much nicer it will be if each Soldier gets their own box as opposed to having to share one box among anywhere from five to eight people. Anybody wishing to help with postage can go through PayPal and send to firstname.lastname@example.org. If you wish to donate items for care packages, here is a list to use as a guideline.
Suggestions for Christmas Care Package Items:
Gloves – black
Sock hats – neutral colors
“Hot Hands” hand warmers
Hand-held electronic games (and batteries)
Word find puzzle books
Sudoku puzzle books
Crossword puzzle books
Travel sized games (Yahtzee, Boggle, Trivial Pursuit, etc.)
Stockings, Santa Hats, Reindeer Antlers
Stocking stuffer items (use your imagination)
DVD movies (no War films…keep it light!)
Strings of Christmas lights
Ornaments (unbreakable, please…)
Assorted Holiday Decorations
Traditional Christmas candies
Little Debbie Snack cakes, Holiday themed if possible
Hot cocoa mix and Marshmallows to put in cocoa
Novelty toys (Dollar Tree, Big Lots are good sources)
Travel mugs with lids
Basically, anything that makes you think “Christmas” when you see it will be well-received by our “kids in the sandbox.” The vast majority of our troops are between 18 and 25; if you have a son, daughter or other relative, or you know someone in that age range, try to think of the “silly” things they still enjoy. I will guarantee the young men and women over there enjoy the same kinds of “silly” things; anything that can help relieve stress is welcome.
Items may be dropped off at the Educational Annex building, 104 Elizabeth Street, Room 9, Ashland City (The old Primary School building). If you have any questions, please call Ms Tracy at (615)557-2972 or (615)746-1406
Tracy E. Roberts