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Thursday, May 17, 2007

Anatomy of a Care Package

A frequent question from new Angels with an adopted soldier, marine, sailor, or airman is “What should I send???” There is lots of advice out there, and I’d bet that no two care packages are ever the same. Angels inspire and incite each other, and you wouldn’t believe what we learn to cram into flat-rate Priority Mail boxes – it’s an art, a sport, and a challenge.

Sometimes we get a little intel up front. When the adoptee is submitted, sometimes there are some comments about what they’d like to receive. Sometimes there’s an email address, and sometimes they have time to reply to questions about “What would you like me to send?” I’m six for seven so far. That means I’ve only had one of what Angels call ‘Silent Soldiers’. In that case, and until I heard from my others for the first time, I told him that he was at the mercy of my bizarre ideas. Never had any complaints, but I can be a little dangerous if I wander aimlessly down the grocery store aisles…

So what do we send? Well, for those in the sandbox at this time of year, it’s already routinely 100+ in the shade and will push to 140 during the summer. So, we send sugar-free drink mix packets to spice up the gallons of water they consume. Or Gatorade/sports drink mixes for a little liquid boost.

I send a lot of rice krispy treats this time of year ‘cause they don’t melt. They must be kind of gooey in the heat though…

Then there are these cooooling inventions, called “Cool Scarves” that help keep body temps down.

What else? Water guns. Silly toys, like koosh balls. Or everyone once in a while, a goofy toy.

Other basics are quick protein for those who miss meals. Tuna, beef jerky, or a jar of peanut butter and a spoon.

Or fruit and granola bars for those looking for healthier snacks.

Hot sauce is a big favorite – I guess seasoning isn’t a key ingredient for food prepped in theater. Your neighborhood fast food place can help out there :-)

Then there’s gum, mints, and breath strips for when they’re out on the range and away from normal amenities and supplies.
Same with wet wipes and liquid hand sanitizer – everyone sends lots of these. Between sweat and the sand (which seems like it should really be called "silt" it’s so fine), a quick clean up is nice.

And for the sandstorms (or dust fogs), another favorite item is a sand scarf.

To lend a hand, we also send the occasional phone card….

...or paper, envelopes, and pens so that they can write home. They don’t need stamps, but quite often paper is hard to come by!

And last, but not least – maybe the most important item – a letter from you. Some people get stuck as to what to write after introducing themselves, but I’ve gotten used to blathering on about whatever I’m doing or whatever funny thing I’ve seen.

My last letter included this pic from one of my recent hikes around DC (picture phones are an awesome way to perk up a letter). Yep, that's a mailbox.

I have truly horrible handwriting, so I try to type up most of my letters, but dashing off a note works just as well. And if you ever think “I wouldn’t know what to say”, just think how you felt the last time there was a snail-mail letter in your mail box. EVERYONE loves getting a letter or a card , and it really wasn’t terribly important what details were shared, right? Just so, a few words from you and they’ll know you care. And that is, after all, why it’s called a “care” package.

As Patti Bader likes to say, “Wings up!” Angel on.


Cat is my copilot said...

Hi Lisa-in-DC! I'm sorry I didn't get the chance to meet you at the MilBlog conference. I'll be back in DC in June--perhaps we can get some angels together for a meet and greet visit?

~This is an excellent post, BTW!

Take care, Courtney

julie320 said...

Hi Lisa,
This is a great idea. Sometimes it is so hard to decide what to send.

I think it is fantastic that you are doing this for our amazing troops.

Julie in Houston :)

Harold C. Hutchison said...

This is an excellent post.