From Chicago with love: Send a soldier a care package with a homemade touch

When my extended family gathers for Thanksgiving and Christmas this year, we will all be thinking of my cousin, Pvt. 1st Class Brian Collins. Brian will be spending his holidays at Fort Bragg, N.C., preparing for his upcoming deployment overseas.

In order to show our support and gratitude for Brian’s service to our country, we worked together to create a holiday care package for him, complete with a homemade craft. This is a great family project for the holiday season.

There are many online resources that provide step-by-step information on how to assemble military care packages. Good options include Any Soldier, Operation Gratitude, Give 2 The Troops or U.S. Troop Care Package. Here are four tips to an easy package that will bring a smile to a soldier:

  • Pack the box full of good stuff. Popular food items include candy, gum, mints, instant powdered drinks, nuts, sunflower seeds, granola bars, instant oatmeal, dried fruit, individual cereal boxes and packaged snacks.
  • Include travel-sized personal care products such as shampoos, shave gels, body wash, deodorant, lip balm, toothpaste, tissues or wet wipes.
  • Soldiers also appreciate entertainment items like decks of cards, batteries, books, word puzzles, games or movies. Soldiers who are stationed at their bases can use items such as gift cards for iTunes or local restaurants. Perhaps the most requested item is pre-paid long distance phone cards so soldiers can call loved ones back at home.
  • And include something homemade in your care package. Try this American flag craft, or something as simple as a hand-colored card goes a long way.
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