Today Abby and I completed our eighth project! It’s pretty exciting that it has only been a month and we have already completed this many projects. Hopefully we can keep up this pace!
This project was one from the original list – to send a care package to a solider. I started by going to www.anysoldier.com, where you can browse through notes from soldiers deployed to dangerous locations. Once you pick one, you request an address and anysoldier.com e-mails you the exact address for the soldier. They ask that by requesting the address, you commit to sending something to that particular soldier. The website gives ideas about items to send, but it is adamant that the most important thing to send is support – not stuff – in the form of letters of encouragement or thanks. We did that, but we also sent stuff!
I reviewed many “profiles” (for lack of a better term – they aren’t really profiles, but more like letters expressing needs) of soldiers. My overall impression was that these people are living in much more dire conditions than I had imagined. They ask for the most basic of necessities that we all take for granted. Below is the “profile” posted by the soldier I chose. I think you will see why I chose her. She is currently deployed in Afghanistan.
“13 Aug 2011:
My name is Suannette Rios. I am stationed at Beaufort, South Carolina. I am attached with the MALS 40, which deployed out of North Carolina. I noticed that the males outnumber the females drastically. I am originally from New Jersey so being station in a country like state has been a pretty tough transition. I am currently in Afghanistan and it is in fact my first deployment. I had no idea what to expect when I came out here. I am very close to my family so coming out here was pretty tough. My father is laid off so being out here makes it harder for me to be able to help them. My mother is working as a second grade teacher and on her off time she takes care of her blind brother. It is very hot here and I always used to take drinking cold beverages for granted. I can guarantee you I definitely do not.Being out here I noticed the PX doesn’t sell certain items such as blankets or razors for sensitive skin. They are low on feminine products such as pads or face wash. Coming out here i didn’t bring many socks. I am happy to see there are organizations that help marines and soldiers in combat while they go through stressful times. I never heard about this organization until my mentor told me about it and how much they have helped her out while she has been here. I have only been here about two weeks so I am anxious to see how this deployment will turn out. Thank you for helping not only myself, but the other marines stationed here.”
We started this project with Abby making a Thank You card. (As you may have seen, this is where we took a brief detour and did Project 7.) Abby worked very hard on the card.
Today we went shopping to get goodies for the care package. Abby insisted that we put goldfish crackers – her favorite snack – in the package. So, into the cart they went. Who doesn’t like goldfish? I did manage to convince her that Sponge Bob toothpaste and Disney Princess body wash were probably not the best items to include. She was much more enthusiastic about buying the snacks than the toiletries. She definitely cannot relate to a situation where you do not have those every day items! Our care package included: goldfish (Abby’s choice!), pretzels (also Abby’s choice), snack packs of Pringles, trail mix (with no chocolate – to avoid melting), crackers with peanut butter, gum, socks, feminine products, sensitive skin razors and shaving cream, sensitive skin Dove soap, lotion, a toothbrush, and toothpaste (no, not Sponge Bob.)
The worst part about this project was having to draw the line with the budget. I easily could have bought ten times this much stuff to send. Hearing that the soldiers do not have access to the most basic of necessities really makes one want to give!
Another aspect of this project was trying to explain to Abby exactly what “soldiers” and “the military” are. On the one hand, you do not want to freak a preschooler out. On the other hand, it is so important that these children learn to honor and respect what the soldiers are doing for us. I kept the lesson pretty simple, explaining that soldiers sometimes have to leave their families and go far away to protect us and our country.
This is a great project that I highly recommend! Even if you do not want to invest the funds in sending a complete care package, it takes very little time to send a thank you card in support of our troops. Or, you could consider getting together with friends or a church group to do care packages together.
* Just a note to update this post… Today I went to the post office to mail my care package. I learned that you have to fill out a customs form, even though it is a military address. If you choose to do this project, make sure to keep a list of what you have included in the care package. I had to do my customs list from memory – hopefully they won’t care! It cost me about $13 to mail the care package. Not too bad for a medium sized box.