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The Defense Department last week announced suggested
mailing deadlines for the 2004 holiday season to ensure that
gift packages to the troops overseas arrive in time for the Christmas
holiday, ranging from a Nov. 13 early deadline for parcel post mailings
to a span of Dec. 6-11 for First Class mailings depending on the
recipient's military zip code.
With the holiday season approaching, here are a number of new programs
by which you can send gift packages and other tokens of support
for our men and women serving overseas.
Sending Care Packages
Even if you do not have a loved one serving in the military today,
there hundreds of thousands of American troops stationed or deployed
indefinitely in remote parts of the world who would deeply appreciate
tokens of support from their fellow American citizens back home.
While heightened mail security in the wake of 9/11 prompted the
Pentagon to restrict mailed parcels to "any service member," there
are a number of active programs aimed at making it easy for contributors
to provide financial donations that in turn become approved parcel
shipments. They include:
Gratitude, a non-government 501(c)(3) non-profit corporation
working in conjunction with the California Army National Guard's
746th Quartermaster Battalion, has organized a program to provide
Care Packages to service members overseas. The Care Packages contain
food, toiletries, necessities, entertainment items and personal
letters of appreciation, all wrapped with good wishes of love and
The nonprofit administers the receipt of contributions, and for
safety and security, the 746th Quartermaster Battalion assembles
the packages occurs at its armory in Van Nuys, California.
Treats for Troops
Founded in early 2003, the nonprofit organization Treats
for Troops is another ongoing program designed to help every
American send packages and messages of support to our men and women
in uniform year round. The website includes several online Gift
Shops where contributors can choose from dozens of themed packages
or hundreds of individual items, all selected after lots of input
from soldiers and family members.
If a donor does not personally know someone serving overseas in
uniform, the organization's "Foster-a-Soldier" program can provide
a match by branch of service, home state, gender, or birthday with
a military service person who has registered with Treats for Troops.
All the donor has to do is go shopping in the Treats for Troops
Gift Shops, and your care package will be on its way.
If you do know someone in the service, the Treats for Troops Gift
Shops offer assembled gift packages that can be purchased online
for instant mailing. They include everything from freshly baked
cookies to hand and face wipes and phone cards, all carefully packed
and safely shipped according to military and postal regulations.
Operation USO Care Package
The United Service Organizations, Inc. (USO) is enlisting support
of individuals around the world to support the troops through Operation
USO Care Package. These packages are being delivered to members
of the U.S. Armed Forces deployed around the world to show them
they have not been forgotten and to provide a "touch of home."
With a donation of $25, contributors can sponsor a care package
and include a personal message of support and encouragement. These
USO Care Packages at minimum, include requested items such as pre-paid
worldwide phone cards, sunscreen, travel size toiletries, disposable
camera and a message from the donor thanking them for their service
For further information on Operation USO Care Package, please contact
Lisa Frederick at (703) 696-3278 (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Operation Dear Abby
For those who would like to send a personal greeting to "any service
member," the longstanding organization, Operation
Dear Abby, founded by columnist Abigail Van Buren in 1967 is
working in partnership with the Defense Department and corporate
supporters to provide an online greeting program by which Americans
can send messages of support to the troops overseas.
Helping the Wounded Here at Home
Comfort Items for the Injured
The American Red Cross at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington,
D.C. is looking for contributions of incidentals and comfort items
for sick and wounded members of the armed forces now recuperating
at the hospital. When troops stationed in Iraq, Afghanistan or elsewhere
are wounded or fall ill, they're immediately evacuated and eventually
end up stateside. It takes weeks for their personnel effects to
catch up with them.
Things that the Red Cross is asking for are:
Telephone cards of at least 30 minutes
Rolling luggage (small), totes, carry-ons
Individually wrapped snacks
Notepads and pens
Playing cards and games
Sweat pants and shirts (all sizes)
All items should be addressed to:
ATTN: Barbara Green,
Walter Reed Army Medical Center
6900 Georgia Ave, N.W.,
Washington, DC 20307-5001
Checks should be made payable To: American Red Cross.
For more information, you can call (202) 782-2080 or e-mail Barbara.Green.1@AMEDD.army.mil
Support for Injured Marines and Sailors
Founded earlier this year, the nonprofit Injured
Marine Semper Fi Fund provides financial grants and other resources
to injured Marines, sailors, and their families. The Fund works
closely with the Marine Corps and military hospitals nationwide
to identify and assess the needs of specific families. Its goal
is to provide immediate and real financial assistance to Marines,
sailors and their families during the extraordinarily stressful
time they are undergoing recuperation and therapy for their wounds.
The program's goal is that by alleviating the financial stresses,
the recovering servicemen and women and their families can focus
on the important job of physical and emotional healing.
Relief Society Donations
Make a donation to one of the military relief societies or related
Army Emergency Relief
Air Force Aid Society
Coast Guard Mutual
Red Cross Armed Forces Emergency Services
The Defense Department also recommends:
Reach out to military families in your community, especially those
with a loved one overseas. Please do not flood the military mail
system with letters, cards and gifts. Due to security concerns and
transportation constraints, the Department cannot accept gifts or
other items to be mailed to "Any Servicemember" as in past years.
Some people have tried to avoid the current prohibition by sending
large numbers of packages to specific individual servicemembers'
addresses. DoD officials say that while this effort is well-intentioned,
it still clogs the mail and causes unnecessary delays.
Editor's Note: If you know of other organizations involved
in similar support-the-troops activities, we would like to post
information on their programs here. Please send information to email@example.com.
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