What to send deployed troops overseas

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What to send deployed troops overseas

by: Kim Suchek | .
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published: December 04, 2012

Hello military community,

I would like to go over items which are often greatly appreciated that can be sent in care packages to service members deployed overseas. Over the years I have solicited input not only from my husband but from fellow service members as well. What follows is a consolidated and annotated list from those who have “been there and done that.”

This is hardly an all-encompassing list and it varies for those service members that are stationed by a PX and/or commissary. So make sure your service member does not have access to these stores before you start shipping items over.

Canned items:  Canned fruit, chicken, peanut butter (labeled for those with peanut allergies), jelly (no glass), sardines, tuna (pouches are best).
Microwavable foods:  (If they have access to a microwave) mac & cheese, popcorn, brownie mix, various mini dinners, instant oatmeal, instant soups/soups in pop-top containers (Chef-Boy-R-Dee, stews, etc.

Snacks:  Beef Jerky, summer sausage, cheese spreads, small cheese blocks, dry cereal (small boxes are best), Chex Mix, chips, cookies of all kinds, crackers, dried fruit, Energy bars/cereal bars/high protein bars/ and granola bars, fruit pies, gum, hard candy wrapped-sometimes soldiers like to put it in their water overnight to give it flavor plus it’s great to hand out to the kids (No chocolate in summer except M&M’s candy shell protects it from melting) Little Debbie’s and other snack cakes, nuts,  pudding cups, Rice Krispy Treats.

Condiments: Cajun seasoning, catsup, garlic salt, honey packs, hot sauce, Lawry’s, mayo, mustard, relish, salad dressings, salsa, salt/pepper, sugar packets, various other spices, Sweet & Low.

Drinks: Coffee, tea, hot chocolate, creamer, powdered drink mixes, crystal light, Gatorade, juice boxes, Kool-Aid.

Entertainment: Balls (all kinds, even Nerf), board games, playing cards, CD player, CD’s, batteries, dart board, disposable cameras, DVD’s (you can tape from TV too), electronic handheld games and consoles with game CDs, Frisbee, greeting cards to send home (great for helping them remember birth days, etc.) pens, paper, envelopes (no stamps), magazines, handheld fans, poker sets, plastic bowls and utensils, puzzle books, sewing kits, water guns, yo-yo’s, zip lock bags, plastic lock containers, baseball gloves, handmade craft kits, computer flash and thumb drives, head phones, photos or posters for tents and walls, patriotic knick-knacks, U.S. and state flags, bandanas, sports hats, jerseys and banners, current books.

Toiletries: Troops often miss their favorite brand of shampoo, soap, etc. Advil, Tylenol, cough drops, sinus meds antacids, antibiotic cream (Neosporin) anti-bacterial wipes, baby oil, baby powder, baby wipes, bath mat, bath/hand/wash towels (dark colors), fleece blankets for cooler weather, body wash/soap, chap stick, clothes pins/line, contact lens cleaner, cotton balls, dental floss, deodorant, dusting cloths for removing the sand from everything and every surface, eye drops, eyeglass kit, face soap, foot inserts for boots, foot/boot powder, insect repellent wipes/non-aerosol spray with DEET (spring/summer), Imodium, laundry soap, fabric softener (tablets preferred), air freshener, lotion, mirror, mouthwash, nasal spray/drops, packaged wet ones/baby wipes, Pepto-Bismol , pocket size first aid kit, puma stones for feet, Q-tips, shampoo, sunscreen, toenail/fingernail clippers, toilet paper, toothpaste/toothbrush vitamins, razors, shaving cream in a tube, aftershave lotion, panty liners, feminine hygiene products, conditioner, brush, comb and hair products, pocket Kleenex, lip balm, aloe vera burn gel, no-water aspirin, Vaseline, blister care, breath mints/ strips, Avon Skin So Soft (for removing face paint and repelling bugs), Visine for flushing dust and sand out of the eyes.

Other:  Small toys, candy and school supplies (gifts for local children), small tool kits, rubber gloves, sponges, unused rags, adhesive wall hooks and screws, gun cleaning supplies (lube such as Militec-1 and CLP), small alarm clocks, portable heaters and fans (110 voltage okay), coffee makers, coffee grinders, microwave ovens (55-pound max), small hotpots, drinking water filters and purification tablets, dog chew sticks, toys, shampoo and flea collars. Also, disposable hand and feet warmers, winter hats, pillow with pillowcase, mattress toppers, sunglasses, toothpicks, twin fitted dark sheets, fly swatters, fly paper, mosquito netting, water bottles, travel mugs and thermoses with lids, padded shoe insoles, socks and sports bras.

And Copenhagen snuff in a tin. Even if the service member doesn’t dip snuff, he or she will be a hero using this for trade. A large percentage of infantry uses it and it’s is hard to get. The stuff they do get comes in a plastic can and tastes terrible. The stateside ‘Hagen’ is the most powerful bargaining tool in the field.

Things not to send:

• With toiletries, no hotel samples please! Some troops have allergies and need certain types that list all ingredients.

• DO NOT SEND pork products, anything in aerosol cans, alcohol and porn.

• Don’t put toiletries like bath soap in with food items; no matter how much you wrap them, the food will smell like the scented hygiene items.

• Don’t send anything that melts.

• Waterless hand cleaner or sanitizer – generally makes mud; wipes are preferred.

• Flashlights – everybody has one and never gets to use it due to visible light discipline restrictions.

• Compass – everybody SHOULD already have one attached to their load bearing vets/harness.

• Sun Screen – already issued in mass quantities, drowning in the stuff.

• Troops do not need stamps (in most cases) as they’re in war zones and may send mail home to their loved ones at no charge.

• With Christmas around the corner make sure you send your service member their Christmas package at least two weeks before to make sure it gets there in time.

Blessings from my family to yours,

Kim Suchek

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