For every soldier who leaves mail call with an armful of cardboard boxes, there are others who leave empty-handed. You can show Christ's love to military personnel stationed overseas this Christmas by sending care packages especially for them. Here are some suggestions for what to include:
Things school-age children can send:
For the holidays
- Thanksgiving card
- Tacks or tape
- Cookies to be shared
- Advent calendar or small artificial tree
- Miniature Christmas stocking
- Garland and unbreakable ornaments Christmas decorations made by your child
- Christmas story written by your child
- Letter of encouragement
- Thank you note for serving our country
- Lip balm
- Toothbrushes and toothpaste
- Facial astringent and cotton balls
- Nonperishable treats
Keep letters upbeat and steer children away from questions like, “Have you killed someone?” or “What kind of violence do you see?” Pack baked goods in plastic bags and surround with popcorn or bread to retain the moisture.
Write brief descriptions of items as you fill out customs paperwork ahead of time to avoid processing delays. Send baked goods or inexpensive items so packages won’t be a target for thieves. Pray as a family for your soldier.
Things teens can send:
Pack. If your teen had to spend a year far away from home, what comforts would he miss? What hygiene supplies might he find useful? What magazine, book or CD would he enjoy, and how could he positively affect those around him? Let your teen answer these questions to pack the best items for deployed soldiers.
Pray. Remind your teen that just as God can use five small loaves and two fish to feed 5,000 mouths, He can use even the simplest gesture of kindness to change lives. Encourage teens to regularly pray for their soldier.
Write. Encourage your teen to write a genuine letter and pose questions like the following:• What is your favorite Bible verse and why?• What are you most looking forward to when you come home?• Has being stationed in the Middle East positively affected you in any way?• If you were a board game, which one would you be and why?• If you could have eliminated one trend from pop culture during your childhood, which one would you cut and why?
Ship care packages for one standard rate, regardless of weight, with Priority Mail flat rate boxes from the U.S. Postal Service. Packages sent to service members stationed overseas are delivered to an American post office (APO) address, so international postage is not charged. Mailing addresses are available through SoldiersAngels.org, AdoptAPlatoon.org and AdoptAUSSoldier.org. Additional care package item suggestions are also available through these sites.
This article appeared in the November/December 2006 issue of Focus on Your Child Discovery Years and Teen Phases newsletters and was titled, "Holiday Cheer to Soldiers." Copyright © 2006 by Focus on the Family. ThrivingFamily.com.