I spoke with a good friend of mine last night who I met while his family was stationed at Ft. Drum, NY. He's former military and his wife is first sergeant of C Co 325th FSB LFT 325 25th Infantry Division. She's stationed in Afghanistan at Kandahar and is involved with providing medical care to US Army Personnel in the Kandahar area of operations, the local nationals, their families and the Afghan National Army.
These soldiers are living in tents that have 110V electricity from generators but are plagued with frequent electric outages, have been living on army chow (for way too long), and have very few comforts that remind them of home.
She has a profile on www.AnySoldier.com as do many other point of contacts that are accepting care packages. She's acting as the point of contact for 48 males and 22 females and distributing items to those soldiers.
She's one of the larger points of contact on AnySoldier.com, most are for anywhere from 3-50 soldiers, and if you'd like to send something her name is Lalone, 1SG Ella M. and you can look her up on www.AnySoldier.com.
If you don't send something to her, maybe you'll consider sending something to another soldier in need of a care package. The shipping doesn't actually cost that much because your shipping to an APO address. This means that your actually only paying shipping to NY and the military is carrying it from there.
I'm collecting stuff locally to send to Ella and her troops, I just thought I'd mention the website in case someone wanted to show their support, it's a great way to.
I've sent stuff from Los Angeles to APO addresses and the USPS usually bills me about a $1/pound. And smaller packages get there a bit faster, ie < 10lbs or so. Be sure to wrap your packages securely. I usually wrap stuff in bubble wrap that is available at Wall-Mart for something like $4/roll.
Thanks for the welcome, I've been lurking around the forums for a couple months and just recently began posting.
Personally, I'd like to be there right along side her treating patients but I am medically disqualified from Active Duty. I have monocular vision (one eye), so have never been allowed to enlist.
I spent 4 years in the Air Force Auxiliary (Civil Air Patrol) doing Search & Rescue because I had the calling to serve my country. On 9/11 a friend of mine and I decided that we'd head to NYC and assist with the relief (both of us were EMT's and I was serving as Unit Medical Officer in CAP). We spent 17 days in NYC and I'm sure that the injuries that she's treating in Afghanistan are just as traumatic to the medical staff as the injuries and fatalities in NYC were Post-9/11.
I can't imagine what it's like to be that far from home, living in tents, eating military chow for months on end, dealing with the extreme temperature swings that are present in northern afghanistan AND dealing with fatalities, amputations and excessive trauma every day for months.
I just like the idea of trying to make them feel more at home.
Some of the things she's asking for in particular are:
Brand name clothes detergent
I've got a longer list of stuff that I'm collecting locally to send over. Shipping for me is a bit cheaper than it is for many people in the US so I figure I should send more stuff than everyone else in the country because it's cheaper for me than for them ;-)
When priority mail is sent to an APO Address such as the ones in Afghanistan & Iraq the mail goes from your post office to a gateway at San Francisco, Miami or New York City and is flown overseas by the military postal service. (Bulk Rate 1st class normal mail to an APO only has gateways in New Jersey & San Francisco and is carried by boat which takes up to 30 days to arrive)
They quoted me $13 for a 20 lb package priority mailed to her APO and $7 for normal rate.
One of the things that I'm sending that they love is Texas H.O.T. sauce from http://www.hotexas.com/ and they'll ship direct to APO addresses. They have boxes of 50 individual serving 1/2 oz packets for $11.95 +shipping (you have to call to get them to ship via USPS)
Have a good day and thanks once again for the welcome
Thanks for the heads up and Welcome!
I will be headed over to the website and see whats going on, I have been shipping out goodies to a few friends and never can tell others how much they enjoy the stuff you send.
One good idea is catologs. Considering the fact deployed soldiers cant spend their money as if they were stateside, plus the extra pay, most are saving a considerable chunck of change! Daydreaming about what you will spend all that money on is a great way to waste time. Say you mail a soldier a Cabela's catalog and he isnt interested in a single Cabela's item, dont worry about it going to waste, it will get passed around, trust me.
long-rifle: No problem, Any-Soldier.com is a great way to connect with the soldiers overseas and send stuff over because your sending it straight to their APO address and know it's getting there unlike some websites that have you send the items to a third party.
MrKasab: I agree, catalogs are a great idea especially around christmas time. The troops can daydream about things to buy when they get back and if their married / have kids they can order from Afghanistan using their debit cards and have christmas gifts sent straight to their families.
Another good idea is sending recent magazines that you've finished reading. I've had requests for GQ, Time, Popular Mechanics & Popular Science, People, Cosmo, Readers Digest, Newsweek.. etc..
One item that is almost always welcome is individually wrapped hard candy. The troops that are on medical missions and that make frequent trips into cities and villages take the candy with them for the Afghan/Iraqi children. Many of these children's families have never been able to afford things like sweets and it helps to foster a sense of good between the US Troops and the Children. The children in Afghanistan and Iraq will eventually be the leaders of those countries and having those children understand that the troops aren't racially motivated and that the troops are there to help them will make a large impact in the future of the region. Believe it or not the candy can help. Imagine the thoughts of a young leader in afghanistan 15 years from now.. "I remember when I was six years old, My first taste of candy was given to me by a US Troop". I may be overexaggerating the impact candy can make but I know for a fact how we treat the young people of the region will impact future relations.
Christmas decorations for the US Troop's barracks and offices would be a good idea right now. If you shipped a package this week it would get there in 10-30 days (depending on whether you ship it priority mail or 1st class normal mail). Being able to celebrate christmas in some way even if not a full blown christmas like they have at home will bring some comfort around the holidays.
Edited to add:
And don't forget when you send a package to include a note even if it's only a couple lines introducing yourself and saying that you support them. Many times the notes mean more than the contents of the package!