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So what’s in the box?

October 21, 2010

A lot of people want to know what to send to our deployed troops in a care package. I don’t think there is one answer to that question.  For one thing, everyone has different tastes.  But let’s put that aside and think about it from the soldier’s perspective.

One of the first things I’ll point out is simply the fact that they aren’t all guys!  There are many women who have stepped up to serve our nation.  They want and need many of the same items we would send our male soldiers, but let’s not forget that we could throw a few other thing in their box that would be appreciated.

Back when I first started sending boxes to my son, he spent most of his first deployment living outside the wire, where his truck was his home.  Back then, he wanted baby wipes as showers were a rare occurrence, happening only when his platoon returned to base in between missions.  Other requests included batteries, snacks, and hot sauce to cover up the taste of the MRE’s on which they survived.  Paperback books were a popular item, too.  My son actually decided he liked to read during his first deployment.  When you are stuck in the middle of a desert for 7 months, what else is there to do in between missions?

During the second deployment, the Marines in his unit were living in trailers on base.  They were outside the wire all day, but they did report back to base at the end of each shift.  Showering was actually an daily option, so baby wipes weren’t as desired as they had been the first time around.  Now that they had access to electricity, he and his buddies requested dvd’s and watched movies during down time.

A remote area was the place my son called home during the third deployment.  The Marines found themselves eating one kind of meat over and over, day in and day out.   This time they wanted hot sauce, barbecue sauce, and any other kind of sauce I could find. Homemade chocolate chip cookies were also a very big hit, in fact, the favorite item sent during deployment number three. The weirdest thing I ever heard him say was, “Hey, Mom, could you stop sending so much junk food?  We just want healthy stuff.”

Over the past six years, Military Missions has supported troops in many countries, with Iraq and Afghanistan being the most common areas to receive our packages.  It really depends on where our troops are stationed as to what they need.  There are countless places to be deployed.  Some have access to microwaves.  Others do not.  Some eat surf and turf every Sunday.  Others eat MRE’s during their entire deployment.  Some will cook Ramen noodles on the hood of their truck because it’s so hot in the desert.  Others trudge through 2 feet of snow up and down the side of a mountain just to get their deliveries because the roads are impassible.

So what should be sent?  Just ask any soldier or Marine.  There are a few answers that we hear quite often such as socks and powdered drink mix, but the most common answer by far is simply, “We like anything!”  It’s really the thought that counts.

It is greatly appreciated when they receive items on their wish list, but unless your box is filled with items completely useless for the soldier’s situation, he is going to be grateful you remembered he was fighting for our freedoms. The items in your box will be used and enjoyed, but the idea that you cared enough to take a few moments to send a package and write a note of encouragement is what will stick in the hearts and minds of our troops.

So what are you waiting for?  Get that box out and fill it up with goodies.  Need some ideas?  We are going to take a few polls over the next few days and let you know what others are putting in their boxes.

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