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Putting Care into Care Packages

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Care packages are our only means of sending the comforts of home to our loved ones putting their blood, sweat and tears into our freedom.

If sending a box crammed with Pogey Bait — yet another piece of Marine Corps slang meaning "junk food" — is what it takes to get our Marines through another day, we’re up for it! But what do we put in those things?

I asked this question and got all kinds of responses from military spouses, brats, and other family and friends. Hopefully everyone can steal a couple of new ideas.

Marines may need some necessities. Sun block, socks, underwear, flip-flops, Chap Stick, baby wipes and powder will make everyone a little more comfortable.

When it comes to food, think durable and non-perishable. Canned or jarred foods like Pringles, salsa, nuts and trail mix aren’t easily crushed into a million little crumbs. Beef jerky, granola bars, gum and non-melting candy make the trip well, as do foods that come well-packaged like Oreos, Little Debbie snack cakes, Moon Pies and packaged fruit pies. If you’re sending things that might arrive as pancakes, consider putting them in a small tin to protect them.

The most popular edibles are homemade cookies and single bottle-sized drink mixes such as Gatorade or Crystal Light. Variety is crucial when sending flavored drink mixes. Pink lemonade can get just as old as regular water if your Marine drinks it eight times a day.

Send the cookies your Marine wants. Don’t waste postage on something he’d never eat at home. I promise chocolate chip cookies will be fine. Those little chips hold up in a 350-degree oven, so they’ll be fine in a desert.

If you’re sending soft cookies, toss a piece of bread into the container. It’ll keep the cookies soft by releasing moisture that the cookies will absorb.

Now, the fun stuff! Some of the most popular time-passers are: Rubik’s Cube, playing cards/poker chips, Etch-a-sketch, 20 Questions, practical joke pieces, crossword/Sudoku puzzles, books, magazines and favorite newspaper section — I’m guessing sports.

Other suggestions include, holiday décor, pictures, music on a CD or USB or recordings of the Sunday sermon. Remember to skip the valuables. You may never again see the goodies you send. Your Marine can only carry so much on the way home.

Stationary is a must if you expect to get any letters from your Marine. Send it all — paper, envelopes, address labels and pens, but skip the stamps. They won’t need them.

Some wives really got creative. Amy, a Navy wife in California, sent her husband the sonogram DVD that showed the sex of their baby. A local Marine wife sent her husband a clean pair of her undies to remind him what he had waiting at home. Now that’s motivation to get home!

My personal favorite comes from Cara, a Navy wife, who sent her husband a birthday cake and helium filled balloon in a very large box for his birthday. She admits it wasn’t the most practical, but I’m sure that’s a birthday he won’t forget.

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