military care packages - flag

Military Care Packages: A Unique Way to Show Support

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Do you want to support soldiers both within the United States and while they are stationed overseas? Do you feel called to minister to the military but aren’t sure how? Have you considered sending military care packages to loved ones but don’t know what to include?

carrying boxes - military care packages

If you want to show support for the marine corps or any branch of the military – soldiers who are making sacrifices to ensure freedom for all, a military care package is a perfect solution

This article will not only provide you with creative ideas for making a military care package, but 

it will also include multiple charities that create and supply care packages to the troops in all branches of the military! 

You will be walked through the entire process – from creating a military care package to shipping it! This article will even go over what to include and a list of restricted items.

It is important to know what military branch your loved one is serving in, as this can impact essential items that you might want to include! 

A military care package is a great expression of gratitude for the troops – something that is both enjoyable and simple. 

But above all these things, put on love, which is the bond of perfection. – Colossians 3:14 (NKJV)

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What is a Military Care Package?

Military care packages have been used for years to show support and comfort to those who need them. Care packages are parcels containing useful and enjoyable things. These packages are usually sent to those far away but can be sent to soldiers close to home. 

Care packages provide an assortment of selected items, often to make the recipient’s life a little better. You can think of these packages as a mail-delivered hug!

solder wearing a backpack - military care packages

The contents of a care package can vary greatly, ranging from the basics of stationery and toiletries to luxury essentials, such as spa items and gourmet chocolate

While you can make your own original care package for almost any person or purpose, you must consider a soldier’s specific needs and technical restrictions when creating military care packages. Care packages for troops cater to the highly irregular situations soldiers find themselves in. 

Many have not been in the military, let alone deployed, so it’s hard to imagine the needs and desires of troops stationed overseas. The truth is, most military personnel require very little because the government does an excellent job at giving the troops their basic necessities.

However, there are definitely things they want! As wonderful and creative as some care packages can be, they may miss the mark if the troops’ wants differ from what you imagine.

Military care kits (another term for care packages) often provide a small piece of home and help make troops feel more connected to the United States!

For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. – Matthew 6:21 (NKJV)

Related: How to Send a Care Package | Your Complete Guide

Why Send Marine Care Packages?

Currently, America has more than 230,000 active-duty troops stationed outside the U.S., not including areas like certain countries in the Middle East. These soldiers are making a sacrifice spending long periods of time away from home and deserve our gratitude

A military care package is ideal for showing affection, love, and gratitude for a service member and all they do for the country. 

front of mail truck - military care packages

Care packages are sent through APO/FPO addresses and are highly desired by the troops. 

Receiving mail and packages that include small comforts from home boosts morale and makes their time away from loved ones a little easier

While it’s true that troops are supplied with most necessities, the inconvenience of not getting what they want all the time is truly unimaginable.  

Imagine not getting your every need met! Think about there being a delay in getting what you want. Imagine months without everyday luxuries like your favorite coffee or the comforts of a movie night with your loved one!

Military deployments can often range from six months to a year, with some as short as 30 days and others as long as two years! 

Sending military care packages can make a bad day turn good, put a smile on a soldier’s face, and remind them that people are caring and praying for them!

Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful. – Colossians 4:2 (NKJV)

Related: How Prayer Can Improve Your Life (The Truth)

Charities That Send Military Care Packages

You may wish to support the troops by sending a care package, but don’t know how!

If you want to send military care packages but do not know a service member, consider one of these charities that specifically provide care packages to the military worldwide.

Troopster

Troopster has a wide range of snack pack care packages for the troops, including vegan and Keto options. 

military care packages - packages

Also, Troopster explains that another pack is donated to a needy troop for every pack purchased from their website! 

The Make It For Me Deployment Pack is full of toiletries, fun toys, and commonly-loved food items such as beef jerky, Cheetos, and Oreos. 

You can donate to Troopster in an amount of your choice, either as a one-time or as a recurring gift. These donations are used to send care packages to deployed troops, military work dogs, and more!

Packages From Home

Packages From Home is another non-profit organization that works to send military care packages to deployed troops. Since they do not receive any local or government funding, they rely solely on the generosity of their donors. 

There are multiple ways to get involved with Packages from Home. You can volunteer, start a service project, or donate

The best way to enjoy Packages from Home is to host a packing party! Sign up on their website, grab a few neighbors, and make creating military care packages a community event!

Operation Gratitude

Operation Gratitude works to serve a multitude of military sectors. They currently serve deployed troops, veterans, first responders, military families, and more! 

Operation Gratitude sent their first care packages to troops in Iraq in 2003. They have since supported over 3.3 million troops!

You can send a military care package for as little as $15 with Operation Gratitude! Please note that this charity is temporarily not sending individual care packages to new recipients. 

All of these charities use the United States Postal Service to send their care packages. 

And whatever you do in word and deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him. – Colossians 3:17 (NKJV)

Related: How to Find the Right Volunteer Opportunity

How to Send a Military Care Package

While creating a care package for deployed troops can be a lot of fun, the process of shipping it can become slightly overwhelming. It is important to note that the USPS is the only entity authorized to ship to FPO/APO addresses. 

military care packages - box being taped

You will pay domestic shipping prices for all military addresses, including overseas addresses. 

The USPS has created a Military Shipping Kit. This free military kit can be ordered online. It usually arrives at your doorstep within 5 to 7 days.

The kit includes two Priority Mail FPO/APO flat rate boxes, two Priority Mail medium flat rate boxes (top loading), two Priority Mail large flat rate boxes (top loading), one roll of Priority Mail tape, six Priority Mail address labels, and six customs forms envelopes.

You should also consider the timeline for shipment. Priority mail packages usually take 10 to 14 days; however, there is always the possibility of delays. Avoid including items that could perish due to shipment delays or extreme temperatures. 

There are a few key tips that you should know when sending a military care package.

#1. Check for Shipping Cutoff Dates.

If you plan to ship your care package close to the holidays, check the deadlines posted each year by the USPS. Allow enough time for your parcel to reach the recipient, considering the increase in mail this time of year.  

#2. Use Plastic Bags.

When shipping toiletries, secure each item in a separate plastic bag. Don’t pack glass bottles or aerosol cans in military care packages. 

Liquid can leak and ruin the care package. Scented items can also rub off onto food and other items, so be careful.

#3. Use Individual Packaging.

Our troops are limited in the amount of space they have available to them, and they don’t have the luxury of paying for extra baggage. Avoid sending large, bulky items that take up a lot of space. 

Most service members also request individually packaged items kept in the original packaging. You might save money with the family pack, but it’s inconvenient for the troops. 

#4. Number Your Packages.

military care packages - stack of boxes

If you are sending multiple parcels, try to number them, for example, 1 of 4. A system like this will make it easier for the service member to know whether they have received all packages! 

Also, enclose a list of items included in the parcel. This way, if your parcel is opened while in transit, USPS officials can easily see what should be repacked.

#5. Ensure the Correct Address is Used.

A shipment to an FPO/APO address must include the recipient’s name, rank, and unit. Additionally, you will need the FPO/APO address with the 9-digit zip code

Examples of the proper form of address are seen below:

Army/Air Post Office (APO)

PFC John Doe

PSC 3 Box 4120

APO AE  09021-0027

Fleet Post Office (FPO)

Seaman Joseph Smith

Unit 100100 Box 4120

FPO AP  96691-0082

Diplomatic Post Office (DPO)

John Adams

Unit 8400 Box 0000

DPO AE  09498-0048

#6. Check Shipping Restrictions.

There are domestic shipping restrictions that occur within the United States. Anything restricted within the U.S. is also restricted in international posts. 

Some of the restricted items are smoking tobacco, alcohol, explosives, and aerosols. You can find a complete list of domestic restrictions on the USPS website. 

There may be additional shipping restrictions to the country you are sending to. Be sure to review the international shipping restrictions list and the USPS Publication 52, Hazardous, Restricted, and Perishable Mail

The military has further restrictions on what can and cannot be shipped to service members. ShipBob has a detailed list of what is not allowed. 

To ensure your package is not delayed, you must adhere to each sector of restrictions, domestic, air freight, international, and military. 

When possible, your best source of information regarding restrictions will be the service member themselves. Consider writing to a service member before sending them anything.

#7. Check the Size and Weight.

military care packages - box

If you decide to use the Military Shipping Kit, your parcels will be within standard sizes. You must remember that Priority Mail International Medium and Large Flat Rate Boxes can weigh up to 20 lbs. 

It is suggested that you package any fragile items in a well-cushioned way that limits possible movement. Ensure that your boxes are securely taped and that any old labels are removed. 

For more detailed information, review the full international shipping guidelines.

#8. Fill Out a Customs Form.

Despite paying domestic fees for FPO/APO, you will still need to fill out a customs form. Click-n-Ship with the USPS makes creating customs forms easy. 

You can follow this simple tutorial about how to fill out the form correctly. 

Create a list of items in the package and their value. Hold on to it. Do this before sealing the box, and filling out the form will be easier.

But do not forget to do good and to share, for with such sacrifices God is well pleased. – Hebrews 13:16 (NKJV)

Related: How to Encourage Someone (What You Need to Know)

Military Care Package Ideas

Once you are ready to create your military care package, the fun begins! As previously stated, there are so many care packages available. There are also troves of ideas! However, many of these are lacking in what service members really want.

The number one item that you can include is what your service member asks for! They know what they need for their circumstances! Write to them to find out their heart’s true desire!

Get creative with your care package and include anything that can give your service member a sense of normalcy on these long deployments. 

Here is a list of general care package ideas that you can include regardless of what military branch the soldier serves in:

  • Envelopes, pens, and small pads of paper 
  • Postage stamps
  • Photos (they love seeing who is writing to them!!)
  • Newspapers, books, and magazines
  • Sunglasses and lip balm
  • Crossword puzzles
  • Underwear and socks (where appropriate)
  • Tactical Duct tape and electrical tape
  • Flashlights and batteries
  • Children’s artwork
  • Letters from family and friends
  • Icy Hot, Vicks, and cough drops

Food items are also great! Troops miss the taste and convenience of home. Here is a list of easy and general items you can include for deployed service members:

  • Instant coffee and tea (individual serving packets)
  • Kool-Aid mix or other drink mixes
  • Gum and mints
  • Candy that doesn’t melt, i.e., jelly beans, Swedish fish, or suckers
  • Nuts, seeds, and peanuts
  • Beef jerky
  • Cereal bars, protein bars, and Pop-Tarts
  • Cookies and homemade baked goods
  • Chips and salsa
  • Crackers and dips

It is a great idea to get creative and make your care package original. You can use decorative paper and stickers to decorate the inside of the box.

You can choose a theme or just express love and gratitude! Whatever you decide to do, do it from your heart!

Marine Care Packages

Marines are often on the go. They specifically request that you avoid sending anything that is in a pump-style bottle! 

Toiletries are at the top of the list! Sunscreen, deodorant, and baby wipes are among the highest needs. Disposable razors, eye drops, and chapstick are also highly requested!

Stick with travel-size, pocket-size, and sample-size items for toiletries. Anything that fits in your pocket that doesn’t melt or go bad is suggested for food items.

military care packages - marines

If you are sending a care package for a female marine, consider feminine hygiene products! These products might not be something they are comfortable requesting, but they definitely need them!

Marines walk a lot during their deployment! Socks are the number one requested item! They always need more socks! You can also include foot powder!

Keep your gifts small and light when it comes to entertainment! They need to be able to pack it up quickly! Frisbees, nerf balls, and cards are ideal entertainment items.

You can visit Marine Parents for a more comprehensive list of needs suggested for a marine!

Navy Care Packages

Where marines are on the go a lot, sailors are often bound to a seacraft for a majority of their deployment!

Receiving mail as a sailor can be difficult, even more so if deployed on a submarine. It is not impossible, however!

You can always send your sailor or submariner their packages before deployment. You can mark them for each month of deployment. For example, “open this at month 1.” It gives them something to look forward to!

Ensure you have the correct address before they leave, as well. Your sailor will not be allowed to disclose their address once at sea. All emails are censored for security. Soldiers’ Angels has some great advice for communicating with a sailor at sea for deployment!

Storage remains an issue; therefore, stick with small packages. Toiletries are still a must. Send them their favorite brands since they might not have access to those.

Disposable hand warmers are ideal for sailors! 

Related: How to Write a Soldier a Letter of Encouragement

Army Care Packages

A care package for a soldier in the army is going to be similar to that of a marine. Take the time to consider where they are stationed.

soldiers - military care packages

If they are in colder climates such as Norway and Germany, you will need to consider disposable hand warmers, scarves, and other warm items.

For soldiers stationed in warmer climates, like Iraq, you should think about items like white sleeveless t-shirts, sunscreen, and sunglasses!

Entertainment is always a must! Soldiers are more stationary than marines, so you can consider including board games, DVDs, and puzzles!

Soldiers’ Angels have a very comprehensive list of needs for soldiers!

Air Force Care Packages

Air Force personnel are stationed everywhere. You will again need to think of the specifics of where they are deployed when creating your care package.

military care packages - soldiers

When sending a care package to Air Force personnel, remember that any food items or toiletries containing hemp will be flagged as illegal substances!

Different tech schools have different rules if your airman is in training. Be sure to have your airman ask if he or she can receive packages while in training.

Any material depicting nude or seminude characters is also banned. This includes weightlifting and health magazines as well as Victoria’s Secret catalogs. 

Air Force Moms give great guidelines to what is and is not acceptable for Air Force members!

What You give them they gather in; You open Your Hand, they are filled with good. – Psalms 104:28 (NKJV)

Related: How to Start Writing to Soldiers (My Story)

Conclusion

military care packages - soldier

If you haven’t sent a military care package to the troops before, what are you waiting for?

You now know why you should send care packages to military personnel, what they need and want in a military care package, and how to ship it properly and efficiently.

There are also some wonderful charities that support the troops – places where you can get involved.

If you’ve sent a military care package, share what you included and what they wanted the most!! Leave a comment!

Troops need support now more than ever! Please share and like this post on social media to help bring awareness of a way others can support the troops, too!