There are so many things to remember this time of year and Marchel has a very important item that needs to be placed ar or very near to the top of our list. Remembering our troops that will not be home at Christmas. Thank you Marchel for this timely reminder.
I posted this last year but I think it is so important I am going to re-post it with some modifications.
Last year the first thing I talked about in the post was the email that goes around saying to send a Christmas card to Walter Reed and I'm going to start there again as I have received so many of these emails lately. Please Note DON'T SEND CHRISTMAS CARDS TO WALTER REED UNLESS YOU KNOW A SOLDIER TO SEND IT TO; it will not get there if you don't have an actual person you are sending the card to. I checked this out on Truth or Fiction and the email is fiction.
In a statement, the facility said "Walter Reed cannot accept these packages in support of the decision by then Deputy Undersecretary of Defense for Transportation Policy in 2001. This decision was made to ensure the safety and well being of patients and staff at medical centers throughout the Department of Defense."
If you would like to help a soldier this holiday season you can adopt a soldier to send things to. There is a group called Soldiers Angels where you basically adopt a soldier. Our son is presently in Iraq on his second tour and I know our packages mean a lot to him. He did tell me there are a lot of soldiers that are alienated from families for one reason or another and don't receive much. Soldier's Angels sounds like the remedy for that problem.
I'm going to take this a step further and tell you how to send a flat rate package to a soldier. Now mind you this has to be to a specific soldier. If you don't put a name it will not be delivered but it is not hard to find soldier's just check with your friends.
As I said this is our son's second tour; on his first tour he was based at a town called Hit just northwest of Ramadi and the base was so small they really didn't even have a PX to speak of. For 6 months of his tour he was on the graveyard shift so if we didn't send food he was pretty much stuck eating MRE's. Needless to say I became an expert at sending care packages so I am going to pass my knowledge forward as I know there are many other soldiers like him who would love some extra care packages.
Figuring out how to send these packages was a learning experience. The first time I sent one I arrived at the post office with this big heavy box and spent something like $30 in shipping. I happened upon a really nice postal worker. He saw I was shipping to an APO in Iraq and turned me on to Flat rate shipping provided by our USPS. He told me that I could send several of the flat rate boxes for less than it would cost me to send the one big box.
When I sent him boxes on his first tour there were only two sizes available but there are now three different sizes of flat rate boxes. The two smaller boxes hold about the same amount but are made totally different. One is long and narrow and the other is short and squatty. The new larger box holds about 50% more and since I found out about it I have used it exclusively. It cost me $10.95 to ship using this box and I can make it as heavy as I want to. Normally this flat rate box cost $12.95 but the postal service gives a $2.00 discount when you ship to an APO. To be quite honest I'm not even sure what the curren charge is on the smaller box as I now only use the large one. Any amount of material may be enclosed as long as the box is not modified and the contents fit inside. .
These boxes are provided to us free from our USPS and you can pick them up at most post offices prior to shipping. The only time I had trouble finding them was the Christmas season as the post office was having problems keeping them in stock. At the same time you pick the flat rate boxes up you will also want to pick up some "Customs Declaration and Dispatch Notices" and some priority mail address labels. You will need to fill out the Customs Declaration and you are going to need to put in a description of what you are sending. It says detailed but you can just write things like 6 cans of soup, 2 packages of crackers, candy, 3 cans of tuna etc. That will suffice for detailed. You will need to put in a value and I always marked treat as abandoned. You will then need to date and sign the form. You have to press hard as there are 6 copies to go through. I always filled out an address label also and put it on the box. I had a postal worker tell me to fill both out just in case the customs declaration came off.
I am sorry but there are no short cuts to standing in line. YOU CAN NOT USE THE SPEEDY CHECK OUT MACHINE. My neighbor did that the first time she sent a package and it came back to her because she had not added the customs declaration page.
The soldiers love getting useful stuff. Our daughter is a flight attendant for a charter company that moves our troops and she told me that someone sent some marines off with lei's which they proceeded to give to the flight attendants. The thought was nice but I think they would have preferred something that was useful to them. I send things like soup, tuna, crackers, summer sausage, non-perishable cheese, candy. You get the idea anything that is non-perishable. In a few weeks I will send homemade cookies and candy to my son. Our son isn't that crazy about sweets but I know he shares what I send. You can be assured that if the soldier you are sending to doesn't like what you sent they will pass it on to someone that does.
So should you hear about someone that is stationed over in Iraq or Afghanistan you now know how to mail them a box of goodies using these wonderful flat rate boxes provided to us by our postal service. Amazingly these boxes typically got to our son within a week to 10 days even at the busy Christmas season. About the only time I did not us the flat rate boxes were when I sent Ramon noodles or the time I sent an air mattress bed as it didn't fit.