How to Send Gift Boxes to US Troops Overseas

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Military personnel serving abroad miss the comforts of home and often request simple things from family and friends, such as their favorite brand of chips or some new socks. If you want to send a gift box overseas but don't know anyone who is deployed, ask your friends or co-workers whether they know of anyone. Keep in mind that many are serving in environments where the temperature gets to over 100 degrees, so don't send anything that will melt before it arrives.

Things You'll Need

  • Box
  • Packing tape
  • Candy
  • Snacks
  • Hygiene products
  • Reading materials
  • Find the mailing information for a service member serving overseas. If you don't know any, visit a website such as AnySoldier.com. The Any Soldier project has listings of soldiers who are currently serving. You can search for service members by branch of the military, gender, where the unit is from or how much longer they will be abroad. Request the address of the soldier you want to reach; Any Soldier will e-mail it to you. Note that many soldiers working with Any Soldier are acting as spokesmen for their units and will either share or give others in the unit whatever you send.

  • Buy items for the gift box. If you're sending something to a soldier you know, ask his family and friends if he has made requests for what he would like to receive. If you're sending to a soldier through Any Soldier, each soldier has a note that requests specific items that is available on his page on Any Soldier's website. Many soldiers request snacks and personal hygiene products such as certain brands of soap. Don't send homemade food.

  • Package the gift. The U.S. Postal Service recommends using a strong box that can fit all the items with extra room for cushioning. If you're reusing a box that has any markings on it, cover them with tape or markers. Fully surround all the items with newspaper or Styrofoam packing peanuts. Close the box. Shake it a little to make sure items aren't shifting around inside; if so, add more cushioning. Include a card or letter with a personal message for the troops. Tape the box up with packing tape. Be sure to cover all the seams of the box.

  • Address the box. Write the address on the bottom right-hand corner of one side of the package. Write in large, clear letters, then cover the address with clear tape to keep the ink from smearing. Be sure to write the address exactly as provided by Any Soldier or by the soldier himself, including both the person's full name, the unit name and the nine-digit APO or FPO -- Air/Army Post Office or Fleet Post Office -- number. Include your return address in the top left-hand corner.

  • Take the package to the post office. The cost to send it will depend on how large the box is.

Tips & Warnings

  • When sending a gift box around the holiday season, Any Soldier recommends either sending small gifts under 10 pounds or sending packages a few months before the height of holiday season. Bases are overwhelmed with mail at the holidays, so it's helpful to them if you don't send huge shipments right before Christmas.
  • It's prohibited to send any obscene or pornographic materials, large amounts of religious materials or pork products to soldiers, according to the U.S. Postal Service.

References

  • Photo Credit build the soldier image by Aliaksandr Zabudzko from Fotolia.com
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