I have to admit that I have not paid much attention to what is on the news about the war. Not because I’m un-American (as you may be thinking), but because I cannot bear to think of the circumstances our soldiers face daily. Physical discomfort from missing the simple comforts of home, and for some, the pain caused by injuries received. Emotional discomfort of missing loved ones and the horrifying realities of war.
When I was young, I thought I wanted to be a nurse, but I quickly realized that I can’t stand to see anyone in pain. My mom says she never knew who was hurt because I was crying regardless of who was injured. Still to this day, I feel physically ill over anything that causes someone pain even if it’s just a stumped toe. It breaks my heart to think of what these service men and women are experiencing and how it will forever change their lives. Yet as much as I don’t want to think about the war, it is a reality for many families today.
Despite anyone’s opinion of war, every soldier is someone’s son, daughter, husband, wife, mother, or father. They are the neighbor down the street, your child’s baseball coach, or a coworker’s child. Yet I have buried my head in the sand because it makes me uncomfortable. However, I can no longer keep my head buried. My daughter has a friend who was just deployed to Afghanistan. He recently called and asked her to send lip balm. We are so blessed that anything we need can be gotten in a matter of minutes with a short trip to town, but these soldiers do not have that luxury. A simple tube of lip balm mailed two weeks ago still has not been received.
I wanted to do something. I can’t stop the war. I can’t fix the physical or emotional pain, but I can send a few things to make someone’s time away from home a little better. So I began to search for information about care packages for soldiers. I have asked friends and searched the internet to learn what items are needed and requested the most.
Romans 13:9 says, “Love your neighbor as yourself.” No matter how you feel about the war, each of those involved is loved by God, and it is our responsibility as Christians to love them too. According to President Obama, many troops are coming home, but the war is not over. Many soldiers have recently been deployed and may need to know that someone at home cares. “If anyone has material possessions and sees his brother in need but has no pity on him, how can the love of God be in him? Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth.” 1 John 3:17-18 NIV
Below is a list of the items I found that are needed and requested.
- Personal Items: lip balm, deodorant, toothbrush, toothpaste, Shower to Shower powder, wet wipes, razors, laces for boots and shoes, ziplock bags, sewing kits, AA & D size batteries, notepads and pens
- Distractions: playing cards, dominoes, balls, frisbees, stress balls, word puzzle books, disposable cameras
- Snack Items: jelly beans, M&Ms, Skittles, Starburst, Rice Krispie Treats, animal crackers, Poptarts, cereal bars, granola bars, 100 calorie snack packs, beef jerky, sunflower seeds, nuts, Cracker Jacks, gum, mints
Individually packaged items work best. Do not send chocolate or anything that will melt easily. Place items that may leak, such as toothpaste, in ziplock bags to protect other items.
- Shipping: if you are mailing to an APO address, request the APO/FPO Flat Rate Box from the Post Office. This box is just for shipping to our troops. It costs $12.95 regardless of how much is packed in this 12x12x6 inch box. The box is free, so take it home to fill making sure you squeeze in as much as possible. We removed everything from the original boxes so that more would fit. It you don’t request the APO/FPO Flat Rate Box, shipping will be much more expensive. We mailed a large envelope with lip balms and a letter for nearly $5.
Maybe like me, God has convicted you to get your head out of the sand and do something. You may want to organize a Care Package Ministry at your church and collect items to send overseas. Ask church members for names and addresses of friends and family who are currently serving. Make a bulletin board so church members know the names of soldiers that will be receiving care packages. Some may not be able to help financially but would enjoy writing notes of encouragement and praying. Philippians 2:4 says, “Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.” These men and women are fighting because they appreciate the freedom our country provides. Let them know you appreciate their sacrifice.