Want to know a secret? Troops throw away a lot of things from care packages. This may be because they were damaged in shipping. Also, they might just not have the space for everything they receive. Sometimes we receive expired items, or things that are prohibited. However, it could be the contents just plain sucked. We are grateful for the gesture, but 12lbs of spearmint life savers is unnecessary. Let’s review some common mistakes loved ones unknowingly make.
Care packages are unique
So how do we maximize the money, and time spent in care packages? Ask your deployed loved one what they need. Also, take into consideration what is available to them. This includes what space they have, and if there is an exchange nearby. A soldier on a large base will need less than one in a remote area. However, the soldier in a remote area will have less space for what is sent.
Consider the person
Being sent books and magazines can be great. Although, your 20-year-old, bloodthirsty Marine might not have the same reading taste as you. Aunts are notorious for sending reading materials generally marketed towards middle aged women. One time, I received an old copy of Southern Architect. Although I enjoyed some of the pictures, the issue was decades old. It just wasn’t my speed. This meant now I have one more piece of refuge I’m responsible for carrying. To the contrary, I was very excited to receive hiking insoles for my boots. With all the patrols we did, my feet needed the support.
Consider the items and usefulness
Mass amounts of sweets may sound like a good idea, but they may melt in transit. Items like seasoning and hot sauce were worth their weight in gold to us that ate MREs daily. They were less valuable to those who had a dinning facility. Socks were important to me, but gloves were more important to my mechanic friends. Just remember, we won’t always be able to use everything we are sent. We try to share with our friends, but they receive packages too.
Small stuffed animals were awesome to receive. This was solely because I gave them to local children on patrol. Thus, fostering more good will. You know, hearts and minds. Also, the little turds would occasionally point out IEDs. So it was more a business transaction. However, if your GI doesn’t leave their base much, they will look like a weirdo getting stuffed animals. Just saying.
All this is to say, that your loved one only has the room, or need for certain items. Be mindful, and ask them directly what they want. Also, you can ask your local USO if they have any programs going on that you can be a part of. Sound off in the comments with your best ideas!