Send a care packageSending care packages to troops is a wonderful gesture as the holiday season approaches, but be cautious of what items you provide or the thoughtful gift could become a bit of a mess by the time it gets overseas.
By: Regan Carstensen, The Republican Eagle
Sending care packages to troops is a wonderful gesture as the holiday season approaches, but be cautious of what items you provide or the thoughtful gift could become a bit of a mess by the time it gets overseas.
Red Wing American Legion Auxiliary President Jan Frazier has been compiling packages on a regular basis for the past couple of years, so she’s learned the ins and outs of the process.
Perhaps the No. 1 thing to remember — chocolate isn’t going to be in the same state when soldiers get it as it was when it left your house.
“The things that probably won’t get over there very well are anything that melts,” she said.
Joining the list of things to avoid — just to be on the safe side — are homemade baked goods that could easily get crushed.
“I have sent cookies, but sometimes they get there OK and sometimes they get there in crumbles,” Frazier said with a laugh.
Also steer clear of anything pressurized, which means no Easy Cheese or Reddi-wip, no matter how conveniently they can be savored directly from the can.
Instead, fill your care package with things that won’t change form, go bad or explode.
“I think what the boys really like the most is beef jerky, snack bars, hard candies,” Frazier recommended. “They really like the snacky things that they can have in their tent.”
While food is obviously important, a care package will be more well-rounded if it features additional items of need like socks, insect repellant, batteries, deodorant and international calling cards.
Those, and a long list of other products, are some of the things that can be donated at various drop-off sites throughout town now through Nov. 11, in case you want to contribute but don’t want to package your own box.
The donation collection is part of the “Care Package for the Troops Drive” sponsored by St. Brigid’s at Hi-Park and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
Following the collection period, organizers and volunteers will assemble care packages Nov. 12 at the church, 580 Hi Park Ave.
“We’re really excited to get out there and do this,” said Rosie Caulkins, a church member helping coordinate the event.
Sponsors are inviting anyone who’s interested to lend a hand at the packaging event where different groups will be stuffing, sorting and labeling boxes. Kids are welcome to come along and contribute, too.
“They can color pictures for the troops and write little letters,” Caulkins said, explaining that a stationery table will be set up to entertain the children.
If you’re creating a care package on your own, the pictures and letters become even more important.
“The little touches of home really make a difference to these men and women,” Caulkins added.
In addition to sending personal notes and photos of the family, consider tape-recording a message for your soldier. Other ideas include sending posters of their favorite sports teams, creating a personalized calendar or providing stationery for them to write letters home.
And as the holidays draw near, festive decorations such as non-breakable Christmas ornaments or a stocking stuffed with goodies are also notable selections.
“Things that the veterans really miss getting,” Caulkins said.
On the web
To learn which items are needed for the care packages or to see a list of locations they can be dropped off, visit www.st-brigids.com.