A care package can be a welcome surprise for troops stationed overseas, especially during the holiday seasons. It reminds the troops that someone is thinking about them and praying for them. This project can be a church-wide event that is open for all ages.
- Set a time and date for the event. You can plan it around Veterans Day, Thanksgiving, Christmas, or any other special day. Some organizations send care packages during Halloween and Super Bowl seasons. In any case, plan the event at least a month ahead to allow plenty of time for delivery.
- Determine who your recipients will be. If there are active service members in your church, ask their family members if you can send packages to their platoons. Alternatively, this site allows you to choose specific service members. http://anysoldier.com/WhereToSend/
- Advertise the event in your church to recruit volunteers. Post a volunteer sign-up list at a strategic location in your church, or set up a way for volunteers to sign up electronically.
- Collect donations as early as two months in advance. Distribute flyers with information about a list of specific items you are looking for and a drop-off location. Contact local businesses for donations and advertise at the local newspaper. Here is a list of ideas:
|Travel size Hygiene Items
|Shampoo & soap
||Single serve drink mixes
||Stationery & envelopes
||Dried fruits & nuts
|Baby wipes/baby powder
||Gums & hard candies
||Hand made/sewn items
|Moisturizing eye drops
||Spice packs (salt, sugar)
||Instant coffee/tea bags
||Girl Scout cookies
||Chips & dips
|Feminine hygiene products
||Tuna in a pouch
||Handheld games & puzzles
- Get mailing supplies. USPS provides free flat rate Priority Mail boxes and you can order them online.
- You will need plenty of quart or gallon size Ziploc/plastic bags. To add a personal touch to the care packages, enlist the help of the children and youth group to write thank you notes to the troops.
- As donations come in, have volunteers to sort through the items. Consider separating them into food items and toiletries.
- On the day of the event, set up refreshments for volunteers. Because this event generally takes four to five hours, consider playing music in the background.
- Organize an assembly line to help you pack efficiently. As volunteers pack, include a list of content description in the box.
- Label your package clearly and correctly. You will need to fill out the customs form 2976-A.
- If you are not dropping off the completed boxes, you can schedule a courier pickup from USPS. https://carrierpickup.usps.com/cgi-bin/WebObjects/CarrierPickup.woa
- Remember to thank the volunteers for their hard work.
- A good rule of thumb for collecting is this: look for travel size items, no pork, no aerosols and nothing that will melt. For safety reasons, do not send homemade baked goods.
- Postage costs add up quickly. Consider asking for financial donations as well.
- To expedite your packing process, Endicia allows you to print mailing labels, postage (with barcodes) and custom forms. Sign up for a 30-day free trial should you want to use it. http://www.endicia.com/default.cfm