A Care Package for a Sailor
Sending Great Care Packages to Your Sailor
My husband and I had fun sending care packages to our son who served on the USS Nimitz. We always sent care packages with enough to share.
Our son said his friends liked to see what was in the box and speculate and make comments as to why we sent this or that. It breaks up the monotony and everyone enjoys it. It is a little morale booster. Of course care packages aren't just for sailors. Your soldier, marine, coastie, airman or college student would enjoy them too!
What to Include in the Care Package?
What Treats Does Your Sailor Like?
Now we get to the fun part. First of all we sent things that we knew our son liked. It might be Goldfish Crackers, Reese's Peanut Butter Cups, Dutch Peppermints, Duplex Cookies or Almond Roca.
Secondly, we looked for items that might have a little entertainment value. Everyone loved the Dutch Peppermints and made jokes about them, so we sent those a few times. Once we sent Jelly Belly Belly Flops. These are imperfect Jelly Bellies that might be the wrong color for their flavor or it might be two stuck together. They had fun with those.
Once we sent a bunch of boxes of atomic fire balls. They had contests with those to see how many they could fit in their mouths. Probably the favorite thing was some Red Velvet cookies from a grocery store bakery. Amazingly, they made it all the way to the middle east in good shape and the sailors loved them. They asked us to send them again and we even got thank you notes about those cookies. There were also comments about not fitting into their coveralls. ;-)
The next thing is that it can't be anything too big that he has to store. There simply is no room. He grabs what he wants out of the box and shares the rest. Nothing to store!
One place we like to shop is the Grocery Outlet store. They have great prices and they have items that you might not see at the regular grocery store. We often find unusual things there, like the gummy mouths that included tongues....and teeth.
Trader Joes is another favorite shopping place. They have great treats there including chocolate covered almonds, English toffee and lots of different candies, cookies and crackers. We shopped here when he was on the East Coast in the winter. You don't want to send chocolate overseas when it's hot.
A Care Package from Home - Cookies, Gum, and Crackers
Here's a few of the things going into the next care package. Fortune cookies, gum, Starbucks chocolate, and Annie's Cheddar Bunnies. Update: This care package was sent when the ship was stateside and it wasn't hot. Chocolate should not go overseas.
Photo property of Dianne Loomos
A little piece of home. Not for when they are in hot climates.
Not for hot climates!
Nick likes Kasseri cheese which is a Greek cheese and not always widely available. While stationed in New York, he was putting in 12 hour days and didn't have the time or inclination to do much grocery shopping. I froze a couple of wedges of Kasseri cheese overnight and packed it up early in the morning on a Monday, took it to the post office and sent it priority mail. He received it in a couple of days and it was fine. It was like a little piece of home for him.
For New Years I sent two boxes of crackers, two summer sausages and 3 packages of cheese. They arrived in good shape but I wouldn't do that in hot weather.
Sometimes it takes me a while to put together a care package. I will get a box ready and then as I see things I think will be appreciated I'll buy them and put them in the box. When I have enough to fill it I tape it up and send it. It is usually good to send things that are not too perishable. I won't send something like cheese if I know that he is out to sea for sea trials or if it is a long term deployment.
Photo property of Dianne Loomos
TV Shows on DVD
Most sailors take some things to keep them from being bored while at sea. TV shows are great for keeping boredom away! Think about what TV shows or movies your sailor likes and include the DVD in a care package. The sailors in the same berthing will share what shows they have so it will be put to good use and help keep the boredom away. This goes for movies too.
T-Shirts and Underwear
Practical Items for a Care Package.
Update: One of my readers says that they now wear blue shirts under their coveralls. Be sure to check with your sailor for the proper kind of shirt to send.
My son said that on one of their underways there was a problem with the water and no one could do laundry. The onboard store quickly sold out of white t-shirts so a lot of sailors had no clean t-shirts, which they are required to wear.
Navy for Moms recommends sending white t-shirts, socks and underwear because the sailors need these things and sometimes can't get them. Make sure you know your sailor's sizes so you can send these things if necessary.
Crystal Light On the Go - A Handy Care Package Item
Sugar-free, orange flavored drink mix that turns water into a flavorful, low-calorie soft drink
90% less calories than leading soft drinks; provides 100% daily value of vitamin C; a good source of calcium
Individual packets; just add to your bottled water and shake
Offers all the benefits of water plus a refreshing light taste
The Three Month Slump
Send something fun!
I've heard that about three months into a long deployment, morale begins to sink. This would be a good time to send some great care packages from home. Ask your sailor what they would like to receive. Chips and dips are popular as is jerky, energy drinks, candy and cookies.
You never know what you might find at the dollar store that would be fun. We found a bunch of glow stick type things once in time for New Years. I've heard that squirt guns and toy airplanes are fun.
A Word About Packing Materials
Bubble wrap is lightweight and is not messy like styrofoam peanuts. The recipient of your care package will appreciate the fact that they won't have to clean up a static charged mess of styro peanuts. If you have styrofoam peanuts that you want to use up, tie them in plastic grocery bags and use them that way. It makes it easier to clean up.
Packing materials can be expensive. On occasion I have picked up a big bag or box of packing peanuts or bubble wrap for free on Freecycle. You can use air pillows too.
Many times I would buy individually wrapped hard candy to use as packing material. It will fill up the holes so things don't slide around AND it's an additional treat.
I recommend Scotch brand packing/shipping tape. You can buy cheaper tapes but I think it ends up costing more. Cheap tape tears and sticks to itself and I end up throwing a lot of it away. I like the Scotch brand tape as it's very sturdy.
Priority Mail for Care Packages
Free Priority Mail Boxes and a Military Discount
Did you know that you can get free boxes for mailing care packages? You can pick them up at the post office or you can order them from usps.com and they will be delivered to your door. I like the large flat rate one. It costs the same no matter how heavy it is. It's an economical way to send care packages to your loved one in the military.
It's a good idea to pay a visit to your local post office where you'll be mailing your care packages. You can see what supplies they have and they'll be able to answer any questions you might have.
For sending your care package to an APO or FPO address.
If you are sending a package to a person overseas you will need a CUSTOMS FORM . This is another thing that you can pick up at the post office or you can order them online for no charge. You can fill it out online but I did this once and it took 5 sheets of paper, so I decided it was better to get the forms at the post office and fill them out by hand. If you are unsure which form to use just ask at the post office and they will know. Ask them to give you a few to keep on hand and then you can fill it out at home before you take your package to the post office. This makes it easier.
INDIAN OCEAN (October 1, 2009) Logistics Specialist 1st Class Dayon Banks sorts through mail in the hangar bay of the aircraft carrier USS Nimitz (CVN 68) after a replenishment at sea with the fast combat support ship USNS Bridge (T-AOE 10).
The Nimitz Moms group on Navy for Moms (navyformoms.com) took on the task of sending a stocking or goodie bag to every sailor in Carrier Strike Group 11 for Christmas 2009. They had their deployment extended by two months and wouldn't be home for Christmas that year. Groups around the country volunteered to help us. Realtors, churches, Boy Scouts, Wal-Marts, school children, VFWs, American Legions, Moose Lodges, Elks Lodges and others volunteered to make cards or send us donations of cash or goods. It is heartwarming to see so many Americans willing to help the Nimitz Family make Christmas a little cheerier for our sailors.
Update: This has become an annual project now. The moms from Navy for Moms adopt which ever carrier group is deployed at Christmas time and every sailor gets a goodie bag and a card.
32,000 Pounds of Mail - Hangar Deck, USS Eisenhower
Here is a pile of 32,000 pounds of mail in the hangar deck of the USS Eisenhower. You can see why you want to make sure you have sturdy packaging. What if your care package is on the bottom of that pile? Also you will note that this mail was delivered while the Eisenhower was in the Arabian Sea. If your sailor is in the Arabian Sea, the Persian Gulf or any other hot location, make sure that you do not send chocolate or anything else that will melt or is perishable. Chocolate is a popular care package item but the sailors are told to inform their loved ones not to send it because it will melt. It then leaks out of the box and ruins other people's care packages.
ARABIAN SEA (April 23, 2009) - Sailors aboard aircraft carrier USS Dwight D. Eisenhower sort 32,000 pounds of mail during a replenishment at sea.
It seems that I am always the designated care package sender. That's ok because it is something I enjoy. Do you send out care packages? Who do you send them to?
Who do you send care packages to?
When your sailor comes home
Welcome Home T-Shirts
from Welcome Home Navy.
Welcome Home USS Nimitz
America Welcomes You Home!
Welcome Home Navy has Welcome Home shirts for every aircraft carrier and for some other ships as well. If you want a shirt that I don't have in my store please let me know and I'll make it for you. Leave a comment here on this page or contact me through the contact button on my profile page.
What do you send in your care packages?