While They Serve
By Edie Melson

Packing for the Troops

Three times a year, our local Blue Star Mothers Chapter spends a Sunday afternoon packing boxes for the troops.

It’s the culmination of several months of community involvement. Watching all these people come together to reach out to our men and women serving warms this military mom’s heart.

If you’d like to start a project like this, here are some simple tips.

1. Make sure you have a list of names and addresses for the soldiers.
I start by asking the families I know who have a family member serving. If their soldier isn’t currently deployed, they may be able to point you to one who is. You may have to work a little harder to come up with a name, but we still have lots of men and women still deployed in a combat zone. Once you have a name, consider sending multiple boxes to that person so they can share with the entire unit.

2. Decide on a packing date.
It’s easier if you build it around a holiday. Our packing date this month was for Easter. The date you choose will also determine what you can include in the list. For example, you only want to send chocolate during the winter months, or it will melt and make a mess, ruining the contents of the entire box.

3. Come up with a list of items you’ll be sending.
I recommend you keep the list to no more than 10 items. Otherwise you won’t have enough of any one item to include it in all the boxes. Here are some favorites from all the soldiers I’ve spoken to:

  • Beef Jerky
  • Individual powdered or liquid drink mix (to make the water more palatable)
  • Individual snack packages
  • Candy
  • Lip balm
  • Baby wipes
  • Socks (brown or dark green)
  • iTunes gift cards (that’s how they watch movies now on their portable devices)
  • Cards and letters from kids

4. Contact your local media.
Involving the local news outlets gives you the chance to reach more of the community. Contact the newspaper, radio stations and any local TV channels.

5. Reach out to schools and churches.
My son loved receiving cards and letters from kids.

Finally, be prepared for an outpouring from your community. By and large, people want our soldiers to know we care. Beyond that, it’s a great way to pull a community together and send a piece of home to those serving in harm’s way.

Now it’s your turn. How have you seen instances where an individual or community has reached out to our military men and women? Be sure to leave your thoughts in the comments section below.

Blessings,
Edie

Edie Melson is a leading professional in the publishing industry. She also knows what it’s like to send a loved one off to war. Her oldest son went from high school graduation, to Marine Corp boot camp, to Iraq; where he served two tours fighting on the front lines as an infantry Marine. Fighting Fear: Winning the War at Home When Your Soldier Leaves for Battle, is Edie’s heart project. Look for her two newest books for military families debuting in 2014: While My Son Serves and While My Husband Serves. You can also connect with Edie on Twitter and Facebook.

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Your Comments (5)

1) As a former soldier who deeply appreciated care packages, thank you for packing and sending these!

2) I write "Pass It On" for Guideposts and "Earning Their Wings" for Angels on Earth, and a good number of submissions for those columns involve people doing great things for veterans and troops. It makes me so glad I work at Guideposts.

Thanks, Edie. I just read Michelle Medlock Adams' post on making a difference, and the Blue Star Mothers of America organization is a great way for people to do just that. I encourage those who feel called to contact their local chapter for more information. I also urge people to explore the many opportunities to help others through volunteer efforts.

Bruce, I agree, Michelle was right on with her post. Thanks for taking time to comment! Blessings, E

Edie:
This post is so helpful. I've always wondered how to do this -- and you've provided step by step instructions! Thank you.

Beth, thanks for stopping by. I'm glad you found this helpful! Blessings, E