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Care Package Guide for Deployed Soldiers

April 26, 2011 | Specialist Benjamin Barhorst

Before I start, I should say that I do not intend to offend anyone.  Quite the opposite, in fact: I wish to inform people, to prevent them from being offended later down the road.  With that, I would like to present some ideas for what soldiers like to see in care packages, and what invariably lands in the "community box" within seconds after opening the package, never to be considered for use by that, or any other, soldier.  Again, I don't want to offend anyone with this, but instead to inform those people that send our care packages, which we truly appreciate in every way, how to avoid wasting money on things that would go to waste. 


My ideas will be presented in the most logical format I can figure.  I'll start with food, then hygiene items, and finally miscellaneous items.  So, first, food.


Candy: Soldiers DO enjoy candy now and again.  I must urge you not to send too much, and certain types are more appropriate than others.  For example, I have seen untold amounts of chocolate in care packages.  While the gesture is appreciated, I must point out that Iraq is a desert.  Both Iraq and Afghanistan get quite cold in the winter, but it's not very appropriate for summer.  Also, believe it or not, hard candies melt in the summer too.  Not only does this make the candy unconsumable, it also makes a pretty large mess throughout the box that you sent.  Chewing gum is usually appropriate, as long as the soldier enjoys it.  If he doesn't, then it will also land in the community box, but I guarantee that some other soldier WILL dig it out and use it. 


Cookies: Yep, we love them.  If you're sending homemade, then throwing in a slice of white bread with the container of cookies will help keep them fresh and soft longer.  If they're store-bought, that's not required.  If you send them, we will eat them.  I promise.  I received 6 cases of girl scout cookies in the mail a week ago.  I kept one box of thin mints, and put the rest out in the community box.  They were gone within 2 days.


Beef Jerkey: it's amazing.  It will get eaten.  Period.  Some soldiers have flavor preferences, but it will ALL get eaten.  If you want YOUR soldier to eat it, you should probably ask him/her what flavors he likes/dislikes, so you know what to get him/her.


Canned Nuts, Corn Nuts, Sunflower Seeds: all good options; some soldiers are less of fans than others, but this is another group of items that don't sit in the community box for long


Fruit: Canned or dried, fruit is a great option.  Fresh... not so much.  Fruit juices are also good.


Coffee: Soldiers LOVE coffee.  If you happen to find one that doesn't, the coffee won't last long in the community box.  A lot of soldiers even have coffee grinders over here, so they can grind Whole Bean coffee.  Welcome to the age of Amazon.  It's an amazing age. (I should point out that Maxwell House is readily available to all soldiers for free... but some soldiers have slightly more refined tastes)


Vienna sausages and other such meats: My best advice for this is ask before you send.  There aren't a whole lot of soldiers who truly love them.  They exist, and in fact my roommate has them sent regularly.  But he's an oddity. 


Fruit & Grain Bars: we have them here.  The army provides.  We appreciate it, but unless a specific flavor/brand is requested, it's probably not necessary.


Pop Tarts: Refer to granola bars.


Drink Mixes (Crystal Light and similar): Refer to Granola Bars.


Fruit Snacks: great for late fall to early spring.  Melt in summer.


Chips: Consider that you are sending these items through US Postal, and that they fall into Military hands for about 2/3 of the trip.  Chips usually arrive as crumbs.


Soda: The army does provide soda, but it's bottled locally (Coke and Pepsi products are bottled in Saudi Arabia).  As such, it doesn't taste quite the same.  If your soldier requests it, send sparingly.  We don't really need it anyways (coming from a medic who gave up soda 5 days a week).


Hygiene items:

This is a special subject, as many soldiers have EXTREME preferences to what they can use, while others just care that they can bathe and shave.  Use your own discretion, and when in doubt, ask your soldier.  I should point out that if your soldier is on a base served by a military store, he/she can buy these items at their own leisure.


Toothbrushes: yeah, we have those.  Occasionally sending one is ok, but please not in every package.  they will end up getting used for weapon cleaning.  Not that that's entirely bad, I'm just sure that's not why you bought them.


Toothpaste: ask the soldier before you buy.  There are a few brands that sit in the community box for months, while a few others get grabbed the day they land there.  I believe the least popular brand (that occupies the community box for months) is Aim.  no bueno.  Ask your soldier.


Razors: Most soldiers refuse to come anywhere near Bic or most other disposable brands.  Check what kind they use before sending. 


Shave cream: We're always in short supply.  Send generously.  If one soldier is particularly blessed, he can always throw it into a community box, and a less-fortunate soldier will grab it within 3 minutes.


shampoo/conditioner: I don't use these items myself.  Not sure how many other male soldiers do, but there's always plenty in the community box.  Females are an obvious different story.  We just don't have any females in my unit.  Fragrance-free is usually a safe bet for the guys.


soap/body wash: again, fragrance-free, or at least don't get us stuff from Bath and Body Works.  A lot of soldiers use Axe, but most use a specific scent, and refuse to use any other.  Check first.  If nothing else, it will land in the community box.  Axe goes quickly; bar soap... not so much.


And this brings me to miscellaneous items...


Clothing: we can always use white or green socks.  Pretty much all other clothing items are not allowed to be worn around here.  I should mention that knitted scarves and hats, while not worn here, are usually appreciated and cherished long after the deployment is over.


books: most bases over here have some kind of volunteer library.  If your soldier doesn't like the particular type of book you sent, or just doesn't read much at all, it will get used by many other soldiers.  Great way to cheer up a lot of soldiers on the long-term.


games: playing cards are usually in excess over here.  Checkers, chess, and other board games also get sent quite a bit, and only a handful of them actually get played.  Don't let that stop you from sending more if the soldier requests.  Just make sure it's "if the soldier requests"


Game books: Sudoku is popular.  So are crosswords and word finds.  "logic puzzles:" not so much.  Just try not to send more than the average job-holding person could use by the time your next batch arrives.  We do have a job to do...


Alcohol, pornographic materials, and other "culturally sensitive" items: prohibited


Religious literature: provided for free from the Chaplains, but some soldiers have special requests... like "leather bound" ...or "Red Letter."  Only upon request please.



Keep in mind, this is only a guide, from one soldier's point of view.  Believe it or not, we have a growing number of "high-maintenance" soldiers in the army, so they may have more special requests than others.  When in doubt, ask your soldier what he wants or needs.  I'm sure he has a few more ideas for you, or at least he'll corroborate my list... or perhaps make it sound as if I have no idea what I'm talking about. 


Sorry if any statements in here offended anyone, I'm just trying to save you the money and heartache of having your thoughtful gifts go to waste.


  • Alisha
    4/27/2011 1:11 PM
    As a mom of a future soldier, this info was very helpful and took the worry and stress out of not knowing what he will need and/or want. Thank you for taking the time to blog this. One less thing to stress and worry over.
  • Kathi
    4/27/2011 8:56 PM
    A most excellent list, thank you! Army step-mom and longtime troop supporter here, I'll pass this link along to help spread the word:)
  • SPC Benjamin Barhorst
    4/28/2011 6:53 AM
    two caveats:
    1. this list is specific to deployed soldiers. For basic training soldiers, please feel free to completely disregard the "food" section of this list.
    2. Hygiene Items: Deodorant was not addressed in the blog. Most soldiers are particularly partial to brand/scent of deodorant. PLEASE check with the soldier first about whether he's short of it, and if so what brand/scent.
  • Sam
    8/20/2011 6:57 PM
    Thanks soo much! Helped TONS. My older sister is in the National Guard (Deployed July 8th to Kuwait) and I wanted to send her SOMETHING so she'd feel like we cared. Just wondering, but, is peanut-butter a good item to send???
  • SPC Benjamin Barhorst
    8/21/2011 8:58 AM
    Glad you mentioned it, I hadn't thought of peanut butter. I'm betting that if she doesn't like it, then someone else will. It's actually hard to come by around here. Whenever the PX gets peanut butter, it sells out pretty quick!
  • Jill D
    10/12/2011 8:36 AM
    Thanks so much! My daughter's group is sending some items over and I just wanted to check from an actual soldier what they want! This helps tons. Beef jerky, white socks, and shaving cream here we come....

    Wait...what kind of white socks? Ankle socks or the low ones?
    • Jill D
      10/12/2011 8:39 AM
      How silly of me...I just checked elsewhere online. The high ones.
  • Christa
    11/11/2011 12:04 PM
    I have heard that wet wipes are appreciated. Is this true? What about sunblock or chapstick?
  • Devan
    1/24/2012 1:10 PM
    Your blog has been more helpful than any other website, sir! thank you! I was wondering the size of whatever you're sending matters? I've heard that I should only be sending travel sized shampoo, body wash, and soap? But that seems like a waste, it would only last a few days.
  • Benjamin Barhorst
    1/25/2012 6:46 PM
    Jill D: Ankle-length or calf-length for white socks, green socks should be above-calf length. Green ones are for boots, white ones are for the Physical Training uniform, which we do still wear overseas. The only white ones that we can't wear are no-show or below-the-ankle.
    Christa: We love wet-wipes! Sunblock and chapstick are usually available from the medics, but they're always the cheap off-brands, a tube or two of the good stuff would probably be appreciated.
    Devan: It is far more beneficial for soldiers to recieve full-sized packaging of hygiene items, with one caveat: there are some soldiers who are constantly travelling, and so they are better off with the travel-size items or smaller packages. You are absolutely right that it's a waste to use those small bottles whenever it isn't necessary. The other thing to consider is how much you can fit into the box you are sending. It's easier to fit a travel-sized bottle into a small crevice of unused space in the box than the full-sized version.
    Anyone interested: The most economical way to send care packages is using US Postal's Flat-Rate boxes. They have one made specifically for APO addresses. It is the size of their "Large" flat-rate and ships for the price of their "Medium." My wife sent me a 20-lb weight vest for working out in one, paid the same low rate... I only used it about 5 times since, but it was cheap to ship. that counts for something, right?
  • Benjamin Barhorst
    1/25/2012 7:04 PM
    Also consider that "Durable" items (things that are expected to last longer than a week, such as a weight vest, coffee pot, etc) will have to be sent back to the states, given to another soldier, or thrown away before we come home. We greatly appreciate them, but try not to send too many items like that!
  • Devan
    1/26/2012 6:32 AM
    Thank you!!!! =)
  • Caroline
    5/9/2012 2:05 AM
    I am a Marine girlfriend, but he has never deployed. So when I adopted a soldier the beginning of this month, I did not know what to send him at all. All he told me was that he would take whatever. I wish I had seen this sooner. Poor guy just got a box of meal bars, chapsticks, shaving cream, razors and etc that he may never use....We have been emailing so hopefully his next package will be more useful to him. Thank you SO much for this post!
  • mandye
    5/29/2012 2:13 PM
    What about sheets sets?? dvd's? anywhere to play them? candles? febreeze? Bandanas? (any color restricted or needed)? these are some things i have on my list wanted your opinion...
    • Benjamin Barhorst
      10/21/2012 2:22 AM
      Mandye: specifically bandanas, probably not the best idea... Not the worst either, but not the best. The words "cultural awareness" come to mind. Certain things can be potentially offensive. I don't know if that would be one of those things in Afghanistan, but I don't like the odds. As for sheets, we were issued twin-size bunks in Iraq and were provided one set of sheets. Cheap ones at that. Good idea. DVDs we get cheap from the local merchants... Literally $3-4 per title. Most of us played them on our laptops. I promise, we're not living in complete isolation from the world. Just mostly isolated. Jen: like I said, just one soldier's opinion. I never really had any issues with the local critters being more attracted to me when I was using Axe, but that was Iraq. Never been to Afghanistan. Guardian and Samantha: my pleasure. Feel free to forward to anyone you feel may benefit from it.
  • Jen
    8/8/2012 4:51 PM
    This has been very helpful!
    My husband deploys in the next month to Afghan, this might be some advice but alot of the soldiers are told to use non scented deoderant/soaps/shampoos for this will cause bugs like those camel spiders.
  • Silvermaille
    8/11/2012 7:43 AM
    Thank you for being honest! My nephew just got deployed to Afghanistan. I was just looking for a list of what to send him. This helps tremendously!
  • Guardian41
    10/2/2012 6:47 AM
    Thank you for keeping this list going, obviously we are all looking for this information and your site is excellent advice! My nephew also just deployed to AFghanistan and we are trying to keep his care packages useful.
  • Samantha
    10/5/2012 9:33 AM
    I love this information. I hope you don't mind I am copying and pasting your link to my facebook page my family wanted all this information. Thank you. My son was recently deployed and we are sending care packages.
  • stella
    10/20/2012 6:26 AM
    T?hanks! I have several deployed fathers of students in my 1st grade classroom. What about little-kid drawings or thank-yous. Are those just a pain or are they appreciated? (I mean, I know they will be appreciated, but is it a big enough deal to do it every time or just something you have to find a place for/
  • Benjamin Barhorst
    10/21/2012 2:05 AM
    Stella, I really hate to sound cold about this... It is appreciated, but we only have so much space. The biggest problem I ran into when I was deployed involved too many at once. I literally recieved 26 thank-you cards in one box. I appreciated it, and I wished I could have responded to each one personally as I do with individual ones, but... Wow... There's just not enough time in a day. One per package is okay. More than that creates a slight burden. I should point out that my deployed time has come to an end, a year ago in fact, and I have been transferred to a hospital assignment, although I am still stationed on Fort Riley, as I have been for my entire career, discounting basic training/AIT and deployed time. With that, my memory of my deployments is not what it was, and, although I will try to answer any more questions that may be brought up, i no longer consider myself a reliable source. Better to ask the soldiers still over there, or freshly returned.
  • david
    11/8/2012 2:44 PM
    this is awesome! I have complied a great list - NOW I just need help on where to send ? I checked online and keep getting re-directed over and over. I cant do bunches - but I sure would like to send a package for the group to share since I do not know anyone in particular, to thank them for all that they do for my safety, if I was younger I would join in a flash - I wish I had joined when I was young...does anyone know where I can send? Thanks for your help! My first one and I hope to do it over and over.

    • Benjamin Barhorst
      11/21/2012 11:18 PM
      David-If you don't have a particular soldier to send a package to, then the USO is a good resource to send to. They are a great military-support organization, and they have a lot more answers than I do about sending packages when you don't know who to send to otherwise. Another group I would try to contact if I were you is Soldiers' Angels. They compile lists of soldiers that have little or no other support, and hook them up with a specific donor that can help get them the support they need.
  • Lisa
    11/15/2012 9:40 PM
    The 6th grade classes at our school have been collecting items for a care package and I'm getting ready to send it this weekend. I really should have asked for donations to help pay for shipping as well (lessons learned ;) )
    I see that you're at Fort Riley... we are in Manhattan. I was looking for the best (most economical) way to ship the boxes when I found your blog. Thank you! We have a couple of dad's from our classes in Afghanistan and they asked for coffee. I have received several large containers of coffee. Do you think these would ship well if I put them into another container like a ziploc bag or plastic container? I want to fit it into the Large flat rate box if possible. Any thoughts?
  • Angie
    11/20/2012 7:15 AM
    Are you allowed to send homemade items such as fudge, hard tack candy, etc? With the holidays coming up there is a lot of baking to be done. It sure would be nice to be able to send that overseas.
  • Amanda
    11/21/2012 9:43 PM
    Hello! This has been a great help! I really appreciate it! Quick question... I work at an elementary school and the kids wanted to make fleece blankets for some parents that are deployed in Afghanistan... Are those okay or should we hold off? Also, what about sending a small Christmas tree that's about 12 inches... fake of course! Are those allowed or would it be a waste of space? Sorry for so many questions! Thank you for this information and for your service! :)
  • Benjamin Barhorst
    11/21/2012 11:18 PM
    Lisa-I don't think the post office likes to see coffee shipped in packages other than the original, if for no other reason than possible contamination (intentional or otherwise... not everyone who sends a care package has good intentions). That said, if it's the only way to fit it in a box, then I would include a note about it to the receiving soldier.

    Angie-homemade candies and fidge are awesome! Just make sure it's well-packaged, and only send in winter months (as it appears you plan to do)

    Amanda-fleece blankets are AWESOME! Small Christmas trees were actually encouraged by my command in Iraq. I'm not sure about Afghanistan, but it should be OK. The only worry I have is cultural sensitivities, Afghanistan being a Sharia-governed country. We don't want to offend the host nation, after all. If there's a way to contact one of the soldiers and ask, that would be your best bet for answering that question.
  • melissa
    11/26/2012 1:56 PM
    I am sending a couple care packages to soldiers for Christmas. Before reading this post I bought a gift set from Old Spice, the Swagger and Fiji scents. (I wanted Danger Zone and Courage, but they didn't come in sets). Is Old Spice nearly as popular as Axe for the soldiers? The set included body wash, deodorant in both full and travel sizes, body spray, and another item that I can't remember.
  • Devon
    11/27/2012 11:38 AM
    This was very helpful thank you! I have a friend who is in GA right now and asked me to put together 20 packages for his friends in Afghanistan. (I am a crazy couponer) So far I have $600 worth of items (all good according to his and your list) And I only spent $75! I was hoping to find an organization that would help with shipping cost, but haven't found anything yet!
  • Tammy
    11/28/2012 10:53 AM
    Thanks so much for the list. I have 3 sons and a daughter-in-law who have deployed several times. Your list has a lot of good information and ideas on what to send and when. I sent so many white socks to son #2 on his 3rd deployment that he finally asked me to stop. :) The thing is, they made great packing material.
  • Brittany
    11/28/2012 11:40 PM
    I was told by a friend who is currently stationed in Germany and was deployed in the middle east recently that when he was there hot choclate was a big thing was this true where you were too? I was planning on sending hot choclate along with mini marshmellows and variaying other items too.
  • Suzanna
    12/5/2012 2:12 AM
    I am so glad I ran into this blog! Thank you for sharing. No offense taken :-) my husband is on his 5th tour in Afghanistan right now. I agree. All soldiers are different with what they request to be sent to them. My husband always asks for Cheez-Its. He definitely LOVES BEEF JERKY! And he almost always wants GUMMY BEARS, skittles, and sour patch kids. One item that I frequently send him in the fall winter months are HAND/FEET/BODY WARMERS. He said they are a hot commodity in Afghanistan. So when he told me that, I decided to buy them in bulk at Walmart so he can share with the other soldiers. It gets down to 30 degrees at night there right now and it's not even January yet! So I do recommend sending those to any soldier! They will not turn away warmth, that's for sure! Do you think sending 1-2 boxes every 2 weeks is too much? Half of the time I don't send a ton of stuff, just mostly things that remind him of back home, and some candy and snacks. But maybe once a month I will send 2 boxes at same time, filled to the brim of just about anything you could imagine. Flat rate Mail boxes usually take 5-6 days to get to him. That's speedy! Last year it took 2 1/2-3 weeks! Thank you for sharing your information. I learned a few things ;-)
  • Tina
    12/12/2012 12:58 PM
    Great information!!! Thanks to everyone for sharing your thoughts and ideas. My stepson is in Afghan and I am always looking for new ideas. Thanks again and Merry Christmas to all.
  • Donna
    12/13/2012 2:15 PM
    Great information. When my son was in basic, I remember reading about how stuff should shipped, shampoos and body washes in zip lock bags. Is this still advised? Also. what about phone cards? Are these useful?
  • Zayra
    12/20/2012 1:40 AM
    Thank you sooo much for all this information!
    I have a question, can we send soda cans? My fiancé loves drpepper and I don't know if that is prohibit to send in a care package... Am I allowed to?
  • Mel
    12/23/2012 4:03 PM
    this post was very informative! thank you! does anyone know how long it takes for the soldiers to recieve packages sent from the U.S to Afghanistan? also, the soldier i'm in contact with commented about missing starbucks during a conversation, would the starbucks drinks in glass bottles be okay to send if wrapped appropriately or is a bad idea to send things in glass?
  • Benjamin Barhorst
    12/23/2012 8:38 PM
    Melissa-When I was in Iraq, the Old Spice sets weren't common, but I'm betting they would get used.
    Devon-Perhaps if you reached out to a church or community group, you might be able to get a donation to help you with shipping costs.
    Tammy-If you switched to green socks, I always had a shortage of those anyways. I'm sure I'm not alone in that. You could probably find them at military surplus stores or farming equipment stores.
    Brittany-Good call on the Hot Cocoa.
    Suzanna-Those are all good ideas, and as long as the soldier doesn't complain, keep 'em coming!
    Donna-Ziplock bags are still recommended for liquids through US Postal.
    Zayra-Cans don't usually do well with the trip, but they do sell smaller bottles now that would probably work. That's what I had sent to me while I was there.
    Mel-I odn't recommend sending glass bottles, but they can survive as long as they are VERY well-packed. When I was in Iraq, it took 10-12 days for my packages to arrive; a more recent report says it takes only 6-7 days lately. That also depends on how close the soldier is to a major transportation hub (where the mail flies to/from)
  • Brittany
    12/24/2012 8:49 AM
    Mel have you considered possibly sending starbucks ground coffee to your soldier? Then they would be able to make it themselves whenever they wanted. Just a thought. I read somewehere that coffee is available over there but mainly maxwell house so if your soldier is fond of starbucks maybe they would enjoy a nice bag of starbucks coffee which you can purchase at a starbucks or at a grocery store more than likely. Good Luck
  • Benjamin Barhorst
    12/24/2012 5:33 PM
    Another good (but expensive) option might be to find a local roaster... I personally prefer Boston Stoker in Vandalia, Ohio, and ordered it for myself while I was deployed... and continue to mail-order it now that I'm back home in Kansas. I know a lot of towns both large and small have locally-roasting coffee shops that offer a wide variety of roasts and flavors, and they are usually a little better quality because they're still small enough to care. On a related note, I strongly dislike the Starbucks company and actively campaign against them for personal/idealogical reasons. Considering that the company has grown too large, I strongly believe in supporting local business.
  • Dawn Hunt
    12/28/2012 5:57 PM
    Curious about "Neck Coolers"? Is that a realatively recent request from those deployed in the desert during the spring/summer months?
  • Richelle Wells
    12/30/2012 1:10 PM
    Thank you very much for all the information, my son has just been deployed and I welcome any and all suggestions of what to send him
  • Kristina Williams
    12/30/2012 11:32 PM
    My husband asked for Skyline Chili and it comes in cans, can I send a can opener or is that a no no? Also he wanted a small desk lamp...
  • Benjamin Barhorst
    12/31/2012 7:48 PM
    Dawn: I don't know much about neck coolers. If you have a soldier requesting it, then I suggest one in either black or tan, as they would have to be worn with the uniform.
    Richelle: Always glad to help!
    Kristina: a canopener is definitely a good idea if the cans don't have easy-open tops. There are no restrictions against them. I hope he enjoys the chili!!! (no problems with lamps either, as long as they're packed well for shipping)
  • Isabelle
    1/15/2013 9:41 PM
    Thank you so much for this list !! Nice to have the point of view of someone who's actually been deployed, helps so much more. What about energy drinks like Red Bull and Monster? I think we're not even supposed to send that but I've seen it in so many care packages pictures on S/O forums.
  • katee
    1/16/2013 4:03 PM
    thank you so much for this! my husband is in Afghanistan and i have a lot of ideas of what to send, but I don't want to send things that wouldn't get used. Just sent him qtips, apple cider powder, a tide to go pen, and an alarm clock :) next package will hopefully be more exciting :)
  • Benjamin Barhorst
    1/18/2013 8:52 AM
    Isabelle: We are able to get Rip-It brand energy drinks for free from the Dining Facilities while overseas, and those soldiers served by a PX can purchase Monster and Red Bull without dealing with shipping costs. That said, there's a lot of FOBs in Afghanistan that are not served by a PX, so it's best to check with the soldier.
    Katee: Q-Tips are always welcome; Alarm clocks are definitely a good thing for us to have. Wish i would have had one, I relied on my cell phone (which ONLY worked as an alarm clock... couldn't get Sprint from Iraq); I'm sure the Tide Pen and cider will go to good use as well.
  • Jami
    1/29/2013 1:39 AM
    Thanks for the info! I'm the FRG Leader for a deployed unit and we are preparing packages to send over and this info will be very helpful!
  • MB
    2/21/2013 2:43 PM
    I was so happy to have found this. Even thou we have had soldiers in our family deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan several times in the last 6 years, This time, I am looking because it is MY son that has just gone. So, what about cigarettes and chew? My son does both, and not that Im encouraging bad habits, Ive just heard so many different things to thats illegal to yes you can no problem. Please advise. Thank you for taking the time to answer this.
  • Benjamin Barhorst
    2/21/2013 3:01 PM
    The US Postal Service prefers that you not send tobacco products. That being said, that never stopped my wife from sending them, and I always received them intact. None of the other soldiers in my unit had any problems receiving their tobacco from home either. If he is serviced by a PX, then he should be able to purchase his own, but quite frankly, by the time they reach the store in Afghanistan, they're old and stale. Tobacco sent from the States arrives more fresh and useable than what we can purchase overseas.
  • Laura Leigh
    2/26/2013 9:37 AM
    You have been such a wealth of knowledge! THANK YOU! Updating my next box. My boyfriend has been in Kuwait for two months and I'm sending my third package, hehe. He seems so appreciative of all I send. Much of what he has told me you have on your lists. I am now wanting to send more silly gifts. Maybe things he can share with his battles. And suggestions there?
  • Renee S.
    2/26/2013 2:25 PM
    I've done a lot of research and sent my solider a few care packages already, but he is a huge coco-cola fanatic and the px hasn't had any for weeks. Is it possible for me to send him any?
  • Benjamin Barhorst
    2/27/2013 11:42 AM
    Laura: umm... with the summer coming up, squirt guns and water balloons sound like fun. Can't honestly think of too much else... use your imagination?
    Renee: If you send coca-cola, I recommend plastic bottles, and still pad them well. I had American soft drinks sent to me throughout my first deployment. My best suggestion is to use flat-rate boxes, since sending them in other boxes will go by weight, and liquids weigh a lot! Hope that helps!!!
  • Jana
    2/27/2013 3:57 PM
    Do they have access to microwaves? What about microwave popcorn?
  • Mary
    2/28/2013 2:15 AM
    Thank you for all the helpful information. I will be sharing it.
  • Renee S.
    2/28/2013 4:01 AM
    Thank you so much! :)
  • MB
    3/6/2013 9:44 AM
    So, any suggestions on sending a laptop? Just got my sons computer fixed and I know he wants me to send it. I would get it insured, but Im a little nervous to put on the customs form that its a laptop. I do not want to sound suspicious of people, but it is obviously an expensive item. Any thoughts on this? Thanks
  • Kellie
    3/6/2013 12:44 PM
    Hi! I love your information, its always nice to have a soldiers opinion! My boyfriend will be on his second tour in the next few months and im already searching for fun and resource ways to keep him in high spirits and to make sure he has everything he needs. Since holidays are a busy time how far in advanced should you send packages, he cant seem to remember how long it took? and about the dr peppers, were they flat once you received them or did it matter? lol thanks again for all the info im going to forward it to some of my friends and army wives and girlfriends!!
  • MB
    3/6/2013 2:12 PM
    Well, after further investigating, it seems I probably cant send the laptop or at least thats what Im understanding. Something about the battery in it? Has anyone heard of this. That would be very disappointing if I cant send it.
  • kellie
    3/6/2013 4:49 PM
    mb- my friend had to wait to give her husband his laptop til he got his leave then he took it back with him. im not sure why but thats what they had to do
  • Narda
    3/6/2013 9:57 PM
    Thank you so much for this blog it has been very helpful. My son is in the Marines and was deployed to Afghanistan in January. I have sent him 3 boxes so far and was trying to figure out some new items for this one. Thank you so much for your service to our country and for your keeping your blog up to date.
  • Jnakim
    3/12/2013 2:25 PM
    I am green to deployment, but this along with a few other sites really helped me out. My soldier isn't the type to ask or even tell me what he wants/needs so I had to rely on research and went with popular requests. I'm already a bit crafty so all I needed was info. I've now sent off 2 pkgs, only 1 of which he's received and it was a tad rough (keep in mind it was my first EVER care pkg), but apparently I done good! I can't wait for him to get the 2nd's much prettier and I'm quite proud of my creativity!! I thought I'd share the idea:
    (My guy loves playing golf)
    I lined the box with (cartoonish) images of a golf course. Then I fashioned a flag and pole out of a thin (flexible) plastic stick and a piece of card stock and hot glue gunned that to the bottom of the box (I made sure that it was tall enough to bend over when the box was sealed so that it would "pop" up when he opened it...also had to tape the inner flaps of the box down and wrote a warning to "keep away from face when cutting tape"). Next I filled the box with green Easter grass and all his treats, which besides candy in plastic eggs, included; a practice putter which disassembles into 3 pieces and comes in a handy leather case, some camo painted golf balls, and an olive wood pocket cross (after all it is Easter). Lastly I cut a "hole" into a sheet of foam (which should be large enough to tuck around at least 2 sides of the box) and putting the flag pole through the hole, covered the contents of the box making it look like a putting green! I of course included a letter written on a green card/envelope, sprayed it with my perfume, and vacuum sealed it to lock the scent in. I LOVE the way it all turned out!!! Super cute :) I think I'm more excited for him to get it than he will be receiving it!!
  • Erica
    3/13/2013 7:05 PM
    I find it IMPOSSIBLE to find Axe body wash/shower gel that is actually unscented! A lot of soldiers request this, but where do you get it from? I checked Walmart, Family Dollar, Target. I am begining to think there is no such thing as Axe body wash that is unscented. So I just picked a scented one and sent it to a soldier (amount other things) from What is your insight on this? Also, pretzels, do a bag of pretzels make it over there ok? Just wondering.
  • Dick B
    3/18/2013 2:28 PM
    Our non-profit, Military Working Dog Team Support Assn. has sent quarterly care packages to deployed MWD teams since 2006. This blog seems to track with the requests we've received...although we support "both ends of the leash" and our packages include toys, treats, doggles and boots for the dogs. Anyone who would like to help can check out our website at
  • BJM
    3/27/2013 11:33 PM
    I have used a couple of sites to send care packages but has the best lists of deployed military that you can send to. They also have a great facebook page forum that goes into great detail on what, and how to send a multitude of items. They are an awesome group and very friendly!
  • Lisa
    3/28/2013 12:38 AM
    My husband will be leaving for taining soon and i'm getting my self prepared for this long journy and this was helpful as to what to send once he gets to AIT and deployment.. i tend to go a little crazy and would send a ton of stuff that would never get used! lol
  • Dee Thompson
    3/31/2013 6:59 PM
    This was a wonderful site. Thank you.
  • Crystal Lynn
    4/1/2013 7:47 PM
    Thank you so much for writing this! I am chairing my first event with a non-profit organization and this is something Ive wanted to do. I had no clue what to send besides the usual heath/hygiene products and this was extremely helpful. Excited to send an email out so everyone can start collecting items for me. :-)
  • Leanne
    4/10/2013 3:24 PM
    How do I find a soldier to send things to? My hubby was military 9 years. Also I have seen crochet for soldiers websites asking for afghans for wounded soldiers. Is that a good idea? I make about 50 a year!
  • Benjamin Barhorst
    4/12/2013 11:19 AM
    Jana: Microwaves... most places have them. I can't guarantee all.
    MB: I've had lots of electronics sent to me, including items with rechargeable batteries. Perhaps if the battery portion wasn't listed on the customs form...?
    Kellie: I recommend giving your packages 2 1/2-3 weeks around the holidays. Any other time most mail arrives in under 2 weeks.
    Erica: I've never heard of unscented axe. That's part of the whole "Axe" label. Everything is scented. At least, as far as I know.
    BJM: Thanks for helping people find soldiers who need support!
    Leanne: I have mentioned Soldiers' Angels, and another commentor said that has a list of soldiers needing support. As for the afghans, perhaps you could ask a USO office about that. They work a lot with the transition of/by wounded warriors, including helping them on their way back from the Combat Zone.
    All others: Thank you for your support to our soldiers, and I'm happy to help in your quest for ideas!!!
  • MB
    4/13/2013 5:03 AM
    Benjamin, Sir...Good to see you back on here, I was getting a lottle worried. hahaha I did send my son his computer after talking to the postmaster. He sadi for a while you couldnt send stuff like that to soldiers in a war zone but that got over ruled after a while, kind of the same thing with sending tobacco products. Anyway glad to see you bcak on the comments. Youre very helpful to many people
  • M.S
    4/17/2013 3:29 PM
    Sr. thank you very much for your service! Your list is of a great help to me!
    My son is in Afghanistan right now, would you please tell me if I am allow to send him a cell phone.
    Any help will be greatly appreciated!
  • Benjamin Barhorst
    4/18/2013 8:15 AM
    I was allowed to have my American cell phone in Iraq, but it only had US service, so I used it for gaming and as an alarm clock. I'm not sure if he would be authorized to have a cell phone with international service. I you can email your soldier, he could probably tell you whether he's authorized to have one or not.
    In order for me to have phone, I used my internet connection and bought a magic jack. As long as the soldier has internet connection, he can use his magic jack to call anywhere in the US. They have servers across the US, so he could get a phone number in almost any area code. It's not guaranteed to be local to you, but at least it would be within the same area code. The rate is around $20/year for service. The only reliability issues I had were due to my internet connection, not the device or servers.
  • M.S
    4/19/2013 7:39 PM
    Sr.thank you so much for your help thru this matter!! I was able to email my son and he is allow to have his cell phone! He will get a magic jack as soon as he gets it!.

    Thank you Sr. for all you do!

    M. Spears
  • Daniela
    4/30/2013 9:07 PM
    my older brother is in bootcamp and is going to AIT (Advanced Individual Training) and i write him letters all the time and i want to send him a care package the only problem is that they dont allow contraband such as candy,cookies,chips or any food i think they only allow coughdrops so what do i send him?? hes up in South Carolina and im currently in Vegas and i cant make it to his graduation so i feel really bad and want to make it up to him any suggestions?
  • Benjamin Barhorst
    5/1/2013 12:26 PM
    Daniela: My only suggestions would be hygiene products and reading materials. In Basic Training and AIT the soldiers get a little time to themselves each night to write letters, read, and prepare for the next day's training. I honestly don't remember what all we were allowed to have and what we weren't. It's been a few years since I spent any time in a training environment. Sorry I can't help you any more than that!
  • M.S
    5/1/2013 2:10 PM
    Daniela: my son finish basic training a few month ago. He was at Fort Leonard Wood, MO (I wonder weather rules are the same in all training camps) but the only thing I was allow to send were coughdrops and letters. Nothing else. I hope this helps! :)

  • Sonia
    5/13/2013 5:04 PM
    Thanks for the information you took the time to provide. This is very helpful! I will pass it along to others who plan to send my son a care package in Afghanistan.
  • Brittany
    5/17/2013 5:02 AM
    Just wanted to add a couple things i was told to send to my husb when he was in basic. Cough drops where halls menthol only so no strawberry or anything near candy flavor. Black sport watch with alarm option. NICE wool green socks for winter months. Hand and toe warmers for winter.

    Husband is now deployed and I think the decent sheets idea is great, but do they have to be white? I have and extra set laying around that is cream with small blue dots.
  • scott
    5/17/2013 11:18 AM
    Thank you for your service and keeping this blog going. My son just deployed to Afghanistan, and whether the situation is budgetary, or his own personal plethora of disinformation, he syas he needs "Everything, there is nothing here." I am sure that it is not completely accurate, but despite the overall media tone that we are pulling out, soldiers are still being sent to the Middle East and need our help. (Anywhere for that matter) As you mentioned one of his greatest requests is shampoo, soap, hygiene. For whatever reason, he does not have access to his bank account. One minus to the digital age and ATM's here. His pay is direct deposit, he says he has no cash.
  • M. Spears
    5/17/2013 12:40 PM
    How can we help soldiers who don't get care packages? Is there such a thing like "adopt a soldier"
  • Rebecca
    5/17/2013 5:06 PM
    I am posting this in hopes that someone else has had a similar problem and found a solution. I am determined to get my soldier his favorite aftershave. No one can tell me it won't get there. It will get there, I promise, once I find a WAY to get it there. Now, does anyone know the way? ;) USPS won't take it, and UPS is a fortune, I don't trust FedEx. Thanks!
  • Jessica Shoalmire
    5/19/2013 2:17 PM
    M. Spears,

    Yes there is such a thing as adopt a soldier! I already signed up within three days you get approved and a soldier assigned to you. It's great!
  • Joyce
    5/27/2013 5:12 PM
    I just recently met a guy online who works in us airforce based in Afganisthan, I wanted to send him care packages but he told me, I'm not allowed because I'm not listed on his mailist lists. Is that true, that girlfriends are not allowed?
  • Benjamin Barhorst
    5/28/2013 8:56 AM
    Joyce: This sounds very suspicious to me. To my knowledge, there are no restrictions regarding who can send a package to our servicemen. Also, there are a lot of online scam artists who are posing as US Military stationed overseas. I will not advise you to break contact with this person, but I would recommend strong caution moving forward. If the person asks you to send ANY money, I would stop responding to the person immediately. The other test you could do is ask the person to send a picture of him doing a certain pose (hold up 3 fingers, putting a finger on his forehead, etc.) If he is unable to produce that picture, or if he just stops responding to you, it's a sure sign of a scam. As far as an authorized mailer list... that's the first I've ever heard of that, and I've been in long enough and made enough friends in all the branches that it seems like I would know at least something about it. VERY fishy to me.
  • Joyce
    5/28/2013 11:56 AM
    Hello, Benjamin, he just give me an address in Nigeria where I will send the package, he told me the receiving officer will screen it there, and it will be forwarded to him. Is it true?
  • Benjamin Barhorst
    5/28/2013 3:46 PM
    That makes it sound even more like a scam. All overseas military addresses are considered US addresses, with the city being "APO" or "FPO" and the state being "AE" or "AP". For instance, the last line of my address in Iraq was "APO AE 09344". If he has an address that does not look like a modified US address, then it is likely a scam. I'm glad you brought this to someone's attention before you lost any money.
  • Joyce
    5/28/2013 3:58 PM
    His Name is TIFFANY C. FLORNER, from US airforce based in Kabul, Afghanistan. Can you able to find out if this person really works there?
  • Brittany
    5/28/2013 4:21 PM
    Joyce. Let me put this is plain language since you are not quite getting there on your own.... You are being scammed. Cease contact.

    And no there is no roster of currently deployed individuals on the internet, that would be quite a security risk.
  • Benjamin Barhorst
    5/28/2013 4:26 PM
    Brittany, thank you. I just checked what sources I have available, and there was no person with the last name Florner listed in the entire Air Force. And I just checked the entire Air Force. Period. Nobody by that last name, much less full name. Not in Kabul. Not in Europe. Not in America. Not in the US Air Force. Scam.
    • Benjamin Barhorst
      5/28/2013 4:28 PM
      PS: Your next step is not to ask if they're scamming you. Your next step is to delete all messages they sent you, and any messages they send you later. If you'd rather try to be civil, I don't know why you would, but your best bet is to send a simple "i don't trust you. Stop talking to me." But your best bet is to just delete and move on.
  • mary beth klann
    5/28/2013 4:42 PM
    Joyce, please listen to Benjamin....I believe that people prey on women who respect and love the military. My son is in Afghanistan right now, and Benjamin is right. His address is an APO AE, Please Please....don't send him anything
  • Zay
    5/28/2013 5:58 PM
    Hi Joyce,
    I know there are a lot of soldiers in Afghanistan that don't receive care packages or that are looking for the right girl. My fiancé's friend is one of them.
    I was wondering if you would like to adopt a REAL soldier that is in need of someone to give him support.

  • Joyce
    5/28/2013 7:25 PM
    Thank you so much Benjamin, and to all of you who gave concerns and suggestions, very much appreciated! I believe, this person is using one's identity because he produced photos of the platoon members. I'm just glad I used my head over heart! God bless to all of you!!!
  • Rach78
    6/8/2013 2:48 AM
    Hi, this site is great, I'm completely new to all this and this helped loads.
  • Annie
    6/13/2013 11:16 AM
    Hi Benjamin - Your blog is very helpful. I'm suspicious of a person I've been communicating with recently. His name is 2nd Lt. Frank Riley, and he says he is deployed in Djibouti Africa currently. He has asked for money, claiming his credit card expired and he can't access his military account and he won't provide me his address to send him a care package in lieu of giving him money. He has also asked for a phone, but he won't provide me an address unless there is something to send. I'm seeing red flags. Is there any way you could check for me whether he says who he says he is? I've currently stopped communicating with him, but I just want to confirm my suspicions. Thanks.
  • Annie
    6/13/2013 11:22 AM
    I forgot to mention that he is in the Army.
  • MB Klann
    6/13/2013 11:48 AM
    Annie, Please do not send anything to this person. It is for sure a scam. It is a shame that scammers use the "I am in the military" card to prey on unsuspecting people. We love our military, so of course we would do anything to help any of them out. That is what these people count on. Just my opinion, but I would stop all communication with him. You could send him an email telling him you are going to report him to the authorities, and my guess is he will never contact you again.
  • April
    6/14/2013 3:35 AM
    I'm getting ready to send over some packages to Afghanistan. So glad I found this as this is my first time sending items. I was wondering about some sort of solar lighting. Something small for the night? Also, what about things like fly strips, bug control (not liquid or aerosol cans)? Like glue traps or something? Would there be use for eye drops, nasal spray? Thanks for the great info!
  • Benjamin Barhorst
    6/16/2013 12:00 AM
    MB Klann: thank you. Took the words out of my mouth.
    Annie: There are three Frank Rileys in the Army database. One Staff Sergeant, one Specialist, and one Retired. Scam.
    Everybody: If it sounds like a scam, it's most likely a scam. If the person withholds information until promises are made, it's a scam. Unless the information is OPSEC, but a mailing address isn't OPSEC, so, yeah... it's a scam. Telling you that he's in Djibouti is OPSEC. Volunteering that information, but not a mailing address, just screams "It's a scam, get out while you can!"
    April: We have good insect control overseas, and glue strips available to soldiers as long as their med supply and preventative med are doing their jobs. We prefer that eye drops and nasal spray come from the medics so that we can also make sure they're not having a bigger issue that is being self-medicated. The solar lights might be good, I'm not really sure. In Iraq we had 2 sleeping rooms attached together with a bathroom in-between, and each housing unit had a porch light for lighting. The way I figure, if you want to go "Lights Out" due to enemy presence, automatic solar lights might make that a little harder to do. I'd say sticking to what's already listed here is probably your best bet. And a few sticks of good chapstick. The stuff we medics give out is the cheap off-brand. Can you say "Lowest Bidder"?
  • Annie
    6/16/2013 9:36 PM
    Thanks for checking for me. I figured as much it was a scam. I have blocked this person and have not communicated with him, I have reported his profile as a scam on the websites he is on. After some research, this person has obviously stolen this soldier's identity as he has produced photos of him in uniform. I was testing him to see if he would give me an APO, but obviously he wouldn't provide one and that's when I stopped/blocked all communications from him.
  • Dianne Jackson
    6/17/2013 7:46 AM
    My son is in Afghanistan and has asked me to send him Advil or Tylenol...evidently the heat has been giving him headaches. Is that ok to send?
  • Benjamin Barhorst
    6/17/2013 9:19 PM
    Dianne: We prefer that your soldier get any medications, including over-the-counter medicine, from his medics. That does a lot more for him than you know, including potentially affecting his benefits (medical, disability) when he leaves the army. Better to just ask the soldier to go to Sick Call or talk to his medic. He would also receive the medicine faster that way (given to him that day).
  • Hannah
    7/3/2013 12:10 PM
    I thought I would share a sentimental idea for those who know their soldiers. When my boyfriend was deployed he said he missed seeing the faces of his friends and family the most when he was in the field, it was the most loneliest time for him. So I went to the dollar store to get some water proof card cases (almost like the ones used to protect priceless baseball cards) I punched holes in the top right corners and threaded a string through the top, I connected about 6 together. Then I printed out pictures of me, his family and friends, his favorite food items and favorite spots to be when he was here and of course a picture of his dog. It was small enough that he was able to keep it with him when he was on the field.
  • Rachel
    7/10/2013 7:04 PM
    Thank you sooo much! Nothing was offensive, bless you!
  • Chris
    7/13/2013 2:27 PM
    My grandson is a Medic in the Army and was recently deployed to Afghanistan. I have a friend who served as a combat Medic with the Marines in Vietnam who says that a good knife was his best tool. He would like to send a knife to my grandson, but I am unsure if this is allowed. Could you please let me know if this is ok to send? Thank you so much for the blog that you do, it is very insightful.
  • Benjamin Barhorst
    7/13/2013 8:46 PM
    Hannah: Great idea, for anyone who is supporting a soldier that they know well. It's always good to have a reminder of who you are there for, and who will always be there for you.
    Rachel: Glad to be of service. Feel free to pass the link along.
    Chris: When I was in Iraq, the guideline was that we could carry a fixed-blade (belt knife) up to 4-1/2 inches, or any standard folding knife. The best thing to have while I was there were multi-tools. Gerber brand is decent, Leatherman is good, and the best of the best is SOG. Prices fall right in line with quality and subsequent demand, respectively.
  • Stacie
    7/16/2013 6:31 AM
    This list has helped me a ton since I'm new to this so thank you so much! My question is about TShirts. My boyfriend recently got deployed to Kuwait and he's told me what he wants me to send him, including tshirts. He said there's no specifics just not plain white. I assume there's some rule or specific kind/color though? Can I send him any color plain shirts as long as they're not white?
  • Johanna
    7/16/2013 10:29 AM
    Thanks for all the great advice! My boyfriend is an army medic, going to Afghanistan. Anything an army medic would need/like?
  • Benjamin Barhorst
    7/16/2013 2:58 PM
    Stacie: When I was in Iraq, we weren't allowed to wear any civilian clothing... therefore, I'm really not sure. I guess that it would be like he said, anything buy plain white. sorry I couldn't help more!
    Johanna: There is no specific "this is great for this army job." What's good for one works for most. The Army should provide him everything he needs to do his job. I personally loved having good coffee, my coffee grinder, and a rather expensive coffee pot. I couldn't stand the Maxwell House and Folgers that the Army provides, and like I said above, I hate Starbucks for deep personal reasons... especially their lack of soldier support during the early parts of the wars is the Middle East. And they've just grown too large. They lost their passion for quality. And there I go on a personal rant again. Good luck!!!
  • Vikki
    7/17/2013 7:32 PM
    For those who have been collecting items to send to any soldier but don't want (or can't afford) the postage to send overseas, consider taking them to them to the USO at your local airport. The items will be appreciated by military personnel traveling to or home from deployment.
  • Sammi
    7/18/2013 11:10 PM
    My boyfriend is about to leave for Afghanistan and I've read several comments about socks, where can I get the right length green socks?
  • Benjamin Barhorst
    7/19/2013 12:27 PM
    Vikki: Good call on the USO, although I've only seen USO lounges in major airports... regional and municipal airports don't have them, and I've been to several large airports lacking USO lounges. If you can't afford to send them, many community organizations and churches could possibly help with the financial end of sending them.
    Sammi: My best recommendation is to look at farming stores or military surplus stores. I bet Cabellas would also have them, but I've never looked. And then there's always the internet Ranger Joe's should have them... or just look for green boot socks on google shopping. Just some ideas.
  • Leanna
    7/19/2013 5:09 PM
    Thank you so much Benjamin, for keeping up with all of the responses on this website! You are providing a real service to a lot of people and I truly appreciate it. I was wondering about Taco Bell Sauce packets (obviously wrapped really well) I heard from some one that soldiers like this kind of thing from home?
  • Suzannah
    7/19/2013 9:12 PM
    This blog on what to send soldiers is excellent! As a Soldiers' Angel, I can tell you many of us have fretted over what to send the soldiers who don't respond to our letters asking what they would most like to receive from us. Thanks so much for writing this! It really helps people who are putting together packages to see what someone who has been deployed says about what the service members really want. THANKS!!!!!
  • SueK
    7/28/2013 7:27 PM
    I met a soldier online. After some days of communicating he asked me to send a care package to an address of a diplomatic agency in Ghana who would get it to him. And to use FedEx or DHL. He later asked for a phone and a computer which won't do. I'm suspicious not sending to an APO address. What is your opinion?
  • Jason
    8/4/2013 11:43 AM
    SPC Barhorst kinda touched on it, but I want to reiterate to not send bar soap (at least not with any food items, especially candy). The long shipping time and heat makes the soap scent incredibly strong and leaves that soapy scent all over the other items, or gets into the taste of the food. It's best to send them soap other than bar soap to be safe (plus bar soap is cheap and pretty common in most small PXs on the FOBs).
  • Benjamin Barhorst
    8/5/2013 12:03 PM
    SueK: You are right to question the legitimacy of that person's request, and as shown by responses to Joyce and Annie, above, you can see that scamming very patriotic Americans is becoming quite popular. My recommendation is to cease all contact. I'm not sure how much can be done as far as turning this person in to authorities, since the person appears to be out-of-country, but at least you can protect yourself.
    Jason: I'm glad to have your comments, I had honestly not thought about the scent of soap getting into other items within a package.
  • Michelle
    8/8/2013 9:29 AM
    Thank you so much for keeping up with this blog! My nephew (Godson) was recently deployed to Afghan and I want to send him things he needs/wants as we patiently wait for his return to the States. God Bless You and thank you for your service!!
  • Danielle
    8/8/2013 7:29 PM
    A soldier I am sending a care package to asked me to send chew.. Is chew okay to send??
  • Benjamin Barhorst
    8/9/2013 9:58 AM
    Danielle: US Postal prefers not to have tobacco sent through the mail. That said, they usually overlook it in the case of sending to a soldier. I never had a problem receiving my tobacco that my wife sent.
  • MB Klann
    8/9/2013 11:28 AM
    I have sent my son chew and cigarettes BUT...I don't write it on the custom forms. I know mybad. He has never had any problems with any of the boxes I have sent him.
  • Shannon B
    8/14/2013 4:14 AM
    Does this go for marines in Okinawa since they are not "deployed"?
  • Benjamin Barhorst
    8/15/2013 8:12 PM
    Shannon: I would think of it as "is my soldier isolated from basic services? Is his/her access to shopping, transportation, and freedom of movement restricted?" If you answered "Yes" to those questions, then I would treat it the same as a deployment. Otherwise you could get in touch with your soldier and see what he/she needs. I'm fairly certain that Okinawa has a PX and other shopping opportunities, and I don't think movement is restricted, but I could be wrong, having never been there.
  • Hannah S.
    8/24/2013 11:34 PM
    Glad I found this! I am a new member of AdoptaUSSoldier, and I had nooo idea what to send him. This is my first time sending an actual care package, and I am going to start off by sending him a simple introductory letter introducing myself, and asking him what he likes, wants, and especially needs. I also want to ask him if any o the other guys and women need anything. If I am mailing just a regular hand-written letter, do I just write his APO address and send it like I would any normal US mail, or do I need to do anything special?
  • Benjamin Barhorst
    8/25/2013 8:54 AM
    Hannah: An APO address is considered a US address, so you would treat it just the same. Good luck!
  • Joelle
    8/27/2013 5:02 PM
    Hello Benjamin, just like Annie I met a guy who said he was in the Military stationed in Afghanistan, I have sent him money and other things but their was no APO address, I sent the things through an address in Malaysia, does this sound right to you? I have been talking to him for about 9 months. Can you check to see if he really is in Afghanistan. His name is SGT. Kirk Wells, he said he is part of the Special Ops unit over there.
  • Hannah S.
    8/28/2013 1:48 PM
    Thanks, Ben! I had to ask my boyfriend a few things as well,, because he served in combat in the U.S. Army, and he received care mail as well. He agreed that soldiers like receiving a weekly letter, also known as a "hug from home," even if the soldier(s) do not receive mail but once a month. Being new to this whole idea, does anyone have any ideas in terms of decorating the care box, so a soldier, especially one I've never met, feels more appreciated? I was also thinking about sending printed jokes and cartoon jokes to my "adopted" soldier, to help lighten his days.
  • Benjamin Barhorst
    8/28/2013 2:25 PM
    Joelle: This is an obvious scam. I didn't even bother checking if this person is in the Army; there is no way I can tell where any given person is if he is in the Army anyways. If he says that he is in Afghanistan, but has mail sent to Malaysia, that should have been your first "I'm out of here!" cue. And asking for money, not basic life necessities, is another one. You have been scammed, and unfortunately, there is often no repercussions for the perpetrators. You could possibly bring this to a law enforcement agency, but I doubt there is much that can be done.

    Hannah S: I, personally, loved receiving the Sunday Funnies in my packages. As far as decorating the box... I never got any decoraated boxes, so I'm afraid I cna't be of much help.
  • Hannah S.
    8/29/2013 2:19 PM
    Thanks, Ben! Better told that somebody doesn't know, whether than a lie. I think decorating the box patriotically would be a little cheesy to my soldier, except for Independence Day, but I was thinking about only decorating the boxes for holidays, stating the obvious punkins, black cats and witches for Halloween; turkey for Thanksgiving (as well as some blank cards he can send to loved ones;) candy canes, Santa hats and presents for Christmas, and so on for all other federal holidays. My boyfriend, an Army veteran, said that even "boring" everyday life letters really touch a soldier's heart, especially from a stranger taking time out of his or her time to love them.
  • Jessica A
    9/2/2013 3:13 AM
    Hannah S.- If you look on Pintrest, there are lots of super cute ideas of how to decorate care packages! :)
  • Suzannah
    9/2/2013 8:43 AM
    Does anyone have any ideas for fun things to send? Games or something that the soldiers in their 30s might enjoy? Just something fun for R&R time that isn't movies (I've already sent those.) I figure the guys could enjoy letting loose a bit. Thanks!
  • Conni
    9/4/2013 2:38 PM
    I wanted to first thank Benjamin for all of your time in this blog and help. It means more than you know. My son was just recently depolyed to Afghanistan. I am looking for any ideas to send him and what not to send him. This is great !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Thank you for serving our country as you do. People like you are the reason why we can live as we do in America. :) As a mother of a soldier - please never forget to keep them in our prayers.
  • Lina
    9/5/2013 8:27 AM
    Suzannah: I thought about a funny funny game but don't know if it is applicable and it is a little hard to find. It is called "Cards Against Humanity" and it is an adult version of Apples to Apples. Look it up! It is pretty addicting. Benjamin: Thank you so much for all the great information. I am a newbie to deployment and want to send my cousin ( her first deployment- Africa!) a care package. This has been a wealth of information!!! Thank you again and God bless you!
  • Zayra
    9/6/2013 2:07 PM
    Hello Benjamin,
    Thank you again for all of this information.
    I was wondering if you have an email where I can send you a letter.
  • MB Klann
    9/6/2013 3:03 PM
    ya know you are SO RIGHT Zayra...He is the one who has helped us all...maybe we should be sending him packages!!!! are the best. Thank you for all of your help and advice from this ARMY mumma!!!.. xoxox. I bet your wife and mumma just love you to death.
  • Benjamin Barhorst
    9/7/2013 8:34 PM
    Lina- I'm guessing your sister is stationed out of Fort Riley, KS? Just a guess. Glad to have her serving and to have you supporting her!
    Zayra- Unfortunately, we are strongly discouraged by site administration from broadcasting our personal email addresses. Is there a particular concern that you have that I may be able to address publicly?
    MB Klann- Actually, I never thought about putting this information out there until about halfway through my last deployment... before that, my family was sending a lot of the items on the "not-so-good-ideas" list and missing quite a few from the "great ideas" list. I'm glad my blog has been able to help so many soldiers and those who support us!
  • Benjamin Barhorst
    9/7/2013 8:39 PM
    Lina- Correction, cousin. My apologies.
  • Mariel Acuna
    9/8/2013 9:12 PM
    I believe my friend called/texted me from a FOB in Afghanistan using a cell phone, which he may have purchased along with a calling card. How does this work? Would it be better (cost-wise) if I offer to call his number from the US on my plan so he doesn't have to pay what I assume are high rates? Perhaps he is uncomfortable asking this, as we are just friends.
    Your advice on care packages was extremely helpful! He hasn't yet given me his address; should I wait for him to give it to me, or ask him?
  • Benjamin Barhorst
    9/8/2013 10:34 PM
    Mariel: I've seen the cell phones that are available to soldiers in Iraq/Afghanistan. As I remember, the cell phone holder is charged the same price per minute whether he makes or receives the call. Based on that, it would be better to have your soldier call you, rather than both of you being charged outrageous rates.
  • Benjamin Barhorst
    9/8/2013 10:40 PM
    As for his address, you could ask him if there's anything he needs, and if he says yes, then it would be appropriate to ask for an address. The other option to breach the subject would be to say something like "Hey, I have a care package that I want to send you...."
    If you don't ask for an address, a lot of times soldiers don't think to give it on their own.
  • Mariel Acuna
    9/8/2013 11:11 PM
    First of all, thank you for your quick response! Second of all, it's very kind of you to answer everyone's questions. It's a huge help! This is the first time dealing with a loved one in the military. So, thank you so very much!
    Regarding the address, I wasn't sure if he's already receiving packages from family already. Another friend of mine (served a few years ago), said he was overwhelmed by getting multiple boxes/letters from family, so maybe my friend is "covered". Is there such a thing of NOT wanting a care package? Maybe just stick to emails/calls? I tend to think that any soldier would like to know that someone cares about them.
    Again, thanks for your service. You're such a good man for helping others. Honestly, I don't want to screw up by saying/doing the wrong things. Is it also possible that sending sentimental things might be too sad for the soldier, and just reminds them of the things they're missing? Thanks.
  • Benjamin Barhorst
    9/9/2013 3:11 AM
    Mariel- As always, I am glad to help, because helping you helps other soldiers around the world.
    Like I said, you could either ask him if there's anything he needs, or offer to send a package to him. Even if he's not able to use what you send, there are a lot of soldiers that go without support, so it's likely that somebody would benefit from your package. If he doesn't need anything, perhaps he could suggest another soldier that would appreciate a sponsor, one who has less support.
    As far as sentimental items or mementos, I found they were good for me because they gave me more of a reason to be where I was. It was one thing to think about home, and another to have a physical reminder of it. I especially liked getting photos from home, especially from the holidays. Sometimes I got a little down because I wasn’t there to share the experience, but it was still good to know I was remembered.
  • Zayra
    9/9/2013 8:05 AM
    Thank you again Benjamin. I took a lot of very advices and suggestions from your page whenever my soldier was in Afghanistan. He told me he loved every care package I sent him and that it really helped him to cheer him up during difficult days. Care packages really make a difference in your soldiers life's.
    I was just asking for your email because there is something I want to talk about with you that I am worried about. And I don't want to make others worried. It's about PTSD.
    My boy friend just got back from Afghanistan a week ago and he is experiencing some emotional numbness every now and then. It doesn't happen a lot but I'm still worried about it. I wanted to ask you for you're advice since you have experienced how it is to be in a war zone. I am helping him all I can and giving him all my love and support. What can I do to help him pass that emotional numbness?
  • MichelleJ
    9/12/2013 4:04 PM
    I had a few questions. My husband is in the Air Force (security forces) and will be deploying to Afghanistan in a few months. My first question is if I could send snacks & hygiene items in the same box without the food tasting like soap? They would be individually packaged, and sealed in ziplocs, also no bar soaps. My other question was if I could send a box full of aerosol (Gillette) shaving creams? I know ups doesn't like it, but I've seen wives send them, just not a full box. I get free shaving cream with coupons & would love to send enough for everyone, but don't want to risk anyone's safety. Ive heard that a mesh backpack is useful for carrying shower supplies since they dry fast, is that true? Should i send him a new towel? Another question was PTSD, is there any way to prepare for it/help prevent it?
    Sorry so much for all the question! That's awesome of you to continue replying on this blog for so long.
  • Benjamin Barhorst
    9/13/2013 1:11 PM
    Zayra: The best thing you can do is encourage the soldier to talk about his/her experiences. Simply having a release is a big relief. Unfortunately, there are stigmas attached to being seen by our behavioral health clinics, regardless of how much the Military encourages soldiers to use the behavioral health resources. If your soldier doesn't start "acting normal" as you remember him, then encouraging him to visit behavioral health may be the best option. Sometimes it takes several months to readjust to living back here in The States, but like I said, just talking and leaving dialogue open is one of the best things you can do. Another barrier may be that the soldier doesn't want to talk about his experiences because he either doesn't expect you to understand or doesn't want to share his burden... makes him feel weak or something. Just make sure the soldier knows that you are there for him and are willing to listen if he ever wants to talk about it.
  • Benjamin Barhorst
    9/13/2013 1:40 PM
    MichelleJ: I never had any problems receiving snacks and hygiene items in the same package; nothing ever tasted like soap. The mesh backpack is great for detached showers, you should check with your airman and see if they have showers built into their housing units or if they have to walk to their showers. Varies by location. Towels are available from the PX, and they're pretty good quality, but the latest reports I've heard say that, with the drawdown, PX support is extremely limited--if it exists at all in some places. Wouldn't hurt to have an extra towel in a care package. As far as the shaving cream, I've never seen a whole box sent at once... I know US Postal limits how much aerosol you can send most of the time... a question for you to bring to your postmaster? I know the cans have safety devices in case they depressurize too much, they won't explode.

    For PTSD, there is little you can do to prepare for what you're going to see, it's mostly how a person reacts to it that determines whether PTSD will develop. The Army sponsors Resiliency training, which has become mandatory for all units, in order to help soldiers develop coping skills and hopefully prevent PTSD from manifesting. The effectiveness of this training depends on how well each individual soldier takes the lessons learned in the quarterly 2-hour block of training and applies it to their everyday lives. Those who are already very resilient are less likely to have PTSD from their experiences, but the larger problem is that the behaviors taught in the resilience training are often behaviors engrained in people from childhood. Either a person will be extremely resilient, or he won't.
    One other thing that makes a difference is having a support network of close trusted friends in the theater of operations (comrades-in-arms), good friends back home, and a strong family to support the serviceman. Having people that one knows he can count on for anything can make all the difference.
  • Mariel Acuna
    9/16/2013 10:18 AM
    What you wrote about PTSD was extremely helpful. Thank you!

    How often should I send my soldier friend emails? Friend, not boyfriend. Also, what do soldiers like to read about on emails? I understand that 99% of the time, the soldier will not be able to write back, and it DOES get discouraging to be honest. But if I know that my emails help him get through the day or week a little bit easier, I would be happy to write as often as he'd like.

    Thanks again for helping me get through this deployment too!
  • Aria
    9/16/2013 5:10 PM
    I'm from Denver, CO and we have a place here that gives soldiers toffee for free. You order a box from them and they give someone that is deployed a box for free.

    Oh and it just so happens to be the best d*** stuff you will ever eat. I call it my crunchy crack.

    Anyways, when my husband was deployed I sent him all his facebook posts that people left him, and also newspaper clippings and things like that. This was earlier in the war though and he didnt have internet or anything. Now days there are many stations that have internet and they are online more than me lol. But if your Soldier is in a desolate place then those types of things really make them feel at home.

    Hang in there everyone! All tough things eventually pass (:
  • Benjamin Barhorst
    9/17/2013 7:09 AM
    Mariel: The frequency of your emails depends a lot on what type of friendship you have. If you used to talk daily before his deployment, then maybe it would be good for him to get a daily email about anything interesting that's happened. If you were talking less frequently, then it would seem more appropriate to correspond less. It's really a personal decision for the two of you to work out, I can't be a lot of help there. A few nice things to think about are the current availability of internet in the theatre of operations (available all the time just about everywhere), and something many people don't know about: standard-size letters are free to send FROM a deployment zone. The soldier just has to write "free mail" where the stamp would go. Then the problem is getting time to write a letter. It's certainly much faster to type out an email, even if it's just to say "we're ok here, nothing new happened today," but it's nice to know that if we want to send out snail-mail, it's free. We still have to pay to ship oversize letters and packages, but you get the idea. I think that concept started around the end of WWII, when US Forces were first stationed in Germany and snail-mail was the only economical method of communication. I'm not sure of that, but it makes sense.
    For what a soldier likes to read about in emails, that's all about common interest. I liked reading about what was going on with my family, although some of what I read became rather discouraging (my sister was going through a rough time and I couldn't help from where I was). Weather is always a safe subject, and anything you think may interest him. I just try to stay away from political conversations and religion in correspondence. Same as any conversation, there's just certain things that are generally off-limits.

    Aria: It's always nice to hear about organizations that support the military, thanks for sharing!
  • Jenny
    9/17/2013 6:41 PM
    Is there such a thing as black card? Does a military personnel has a black card?
  • Benjamin Barhorst
    9/19/2013 9:14 AM
    Jenny, I have never heard of a Black Card. What we had when I was overseas was called an Eagle Cash Card, which was linked to our bank accounts for adding money to the card. This sounds scammy to me. Did the soldier give you an APO or FPO Address to send the money to? Do you know the soldier personally? If not, I would assume this is a scam and break contact.
  • Kelly
    9/21/2013 2:59 PM
    This is extremely helpful! Thank you so much! A good friend of mine is in Afghanistan right now, this list gave me some great ideas!
  • Patty
    9/23/2013 2:00 PM
    hello everyone. This site has been very informative and fun to read. I was happy to see that it is recent as well. I too like many of you have a Army solider son that is deployed. I would like to share a couple of things, that have worked well for us. As far as phones, if they have a smart phone and access to the Internet, there is an app that you can down load to your phone, it's called Viber and it's free. It's been awesome. Also Winter months are October thru March, in Afghanistan. I does snow there and gets cold. Electric blankets are awesome gifts to seed. I just sent a care package, I have a theme to every care package. This one was "Rise and Shine sleepy head" I sent a 2" memory foam mattress top, expensive but worth it, twin sheets, flannel is the best, wicks the sweat in heat and warm in winter, a pillow, this is a must, I had the family and friends write messages on the pillow, an alarm clock, and eye mask. I'll continue to follow this site and pray daily for all our service members overseas and stateside. Hooah!!!!!
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  • MB Klann
    9/25/2013 7:20 PM
    Are u kidding me? Get off of this site. I WILL find a way to report you to the authorities. Preying on innocent family members who have loved ones deployed? WOW that's really low. I am a proud ARMY MUMMA, and I refuse to let you prey on people. Benjamin Borhorst, Sir, is there something we can do about this besides encourage EVERYONE who comes to this site to totally ignore this post?
  • MB Klann
    9/25/2013 9:03 PM
    Benjamin, I assume that you are the administrator for this site. Thank you for removing the previous post.
  • Benjamin Barhorst
    9/25/2013 9:35 PM
    MB Klann, I am not the Admin for the site, nor was I the person who reported that "spam" comment, although had I seen it first I would have. Our administrators review all comments after they are posted and, if a comment violates the site policy, it is deleted. Unfortunately, the comments cannot always be reviewed immediately before it is posted, but at least there are checks and balances in place to keep comments like that off this site. (also, please be aware, this overall site is an official US Army site intended primarily for recruiting/retention purposes, and falls under US Government site policies. I am fortunate to be authorized this particular Blog subject.)
  • MB Klann
    9/25/2013 9:57 PM
    Sir, It really does not matter, Thank You to whoever it was that got rid of that terrible post. Military Family, Please be smart and aware of any SPAM information and emails that you see. Unfortunately, there are always people that want to take advantage of a situation where they think people are vulnerable/ I think Benjamin has stated this many, many times in past posts...If something just does not seem right, it probably isn't. Our US Military is pretty specific, and getting strange messages or requests is certainly not the normal protocol. Our Soldiers asking for something is NOT our typical Military Men and Women...they just do not do that. Please, everyone, just be careful.
  • L. Dunn
    10/1/2013 1:08 PM
    My nephew is deployed to Africa and states that they need lots and lots of soap. He says its a dirty dirty place with a lot disease and they really go through the soap. He says he also needs the usual deodorant, and toothpaste.
  • Jessie
    10/2/2013 2:19 PM
    Thanks for sharing this information. It is a great insight as to what should and should not be sent in a care package. I really appreciate this. As a military wife experiencing my husbands first deployment. It gives me a better idea in knowing what to send.
  • Michelle
    10/26/2013 12:23 PM
    Thanks for the info. I recently "adopted" a soldier but she says she is happy with anything and what she doesn't use goes to others so its been probably hit or miss with stuff I have been sending. this gives me a better idea of what I shouldn't put into the packages.

    Off topic: I thought your last name sounded familiar, and when I saw your hometown in your profile, I knew why. I have family that live in Ft. Loramie. 6 cousins that graduated high school out of Ft Loramie High since 2001.
  • Hannah S.
    10/27/2013 5:25 PM
    I have mailed two letters to my adopted soldier from Adopt A Us Soldier, and so far, I haven't heard anything from him, though I understand I probably won't for a few months. I'm not sure where to even begin in terms of a care package, because I don't know anything he wants in terms of personal preference of certain brands and scents. Any ideas for a care package despite not knowing personal preference?
  • Mary Beth
    10/27/2013 10:58 PM
    My nephew is a Calvary Scout Staff Sergeant now stationed in Kuwait after two tours in Iraq and a recent deployment on a remote base in Afghanistan. He says he doesn't need anything in Kuwait and to find a soldier in a remote location that needs support. I remember how harsh his deployment was and want to find a soldier in a remote base that needs care packages. How do I find my remote soldier and/or a unit to support?

    My nephew loved getting hot sauce, good shaving cream, real razors, instant hot packs for his pockets, and really good winter boot socks as it was so cold in the mountains. We got enough socks (approved color only) for his whole unit at Christmas.

    Thanks for all you do.
  • Benjamin Barhorst
    10/28/2013 1:25 PM
    Hannah: I would recommend what I call "generic" care package. Not to say the items inside are generic, but the overall contents are universally acceptable. For instance, all of the recommended foods listed, and any that were recommended in other comments, as well as literature. Again, if one soldier doesn't like something, then another soldier may benefit. I always had my wife forward my monthly Field and Stream to me when I was over there. Other soldiers like magazines about motorcycles, cars, guns... the only magazines I never saw anyone reading over there were Taste of Home and Good housekeeping. I can't imagine why...
    Michelle, I’m glad I was able to help narrow it down. You could still ask your soldier what flavor and/or scent preferences she has for the foods and hygiene. I appreciate a large group of people benefiting, but I, personally, can only afford to support one soldier. That’s just my perspective.
    Marybeth: Your best bet is to visit or Those are both organizations that have proven themselves to me and other soldiers as making a difference in the lives of soldiers downrange.
    Anyone interested: A soldier can be nominated by almost anyone to be “adopted” by one of these organizations. Therefore, if you know a soldier in need, but cannot support them personally, then please nominate them for adoption so they can get some amount of support. I truly appreciate that there are so many people looking for a soldier to help!!! Thank you for all you are doing for our servicemen and women!!!
  • Hannah S.
    10/28/2013 2:57 PM
    Ben, I went to Wal-Mart today and bought a few things for my first care package. I bought two cans of generic Edge shaving cream for sensitive skin, and a Gillette Fusion Proglide razor that includes two replacement heads, since I know a Gillette is pretty much the best razor out there. As far as foods, body wash, and other things, I am waiting to hear back from my soldier to see what he really needs, and what specific brands and scents he wants, because that's what my boyfriend told me to do, in case he's well stocked on resources. I plan on sending beef jerky in every care package, because lets face it, just about everyone loves it, and I know he would. I need ideas for holiday packages though!
  • Serena Johnson
    10/29/2013 9:51 AM
    Thank you so much for your time and help. We are currently supporting our friend and co-worker (a Navy Seabee) on his 3rd trip over (first two times in Iraq, this one in Afghanistan.) Our company wide care packages (200 employees) go to his entire unit and it is personal to us as a company because we are a DoD defense contractor manufacturing missile components. We support our military men and women 100%!!! Your suggestions are invaluable! God bless you and thank you for your serice.
  • Nadine Gurto
    10/30/2013 2:30 PM
    Thank you so much for writing and maintaining this list! As I'm preparing a box for a friend I came here for some suggestions and they've all been wonderful. Someone mentioned earlier about having someone deployed in Africa and how it was so dirty and thought I'd throw this out as an option. The Columbus Washboard company offers a troop kit for $25 which includes a tub, soap and a washboard with postage for troops with an APO or FPO address. We visited the factory on our honeymoon and the washboards are still made by hand using the original equipment and tools here in the USA in Logan, Ohio. The info can be found here
  • Christina Raper
    11/2/2013 9:01 PM
    Would it be ok to send female products? You know for her monthly visit.
  • Mariel Acuna
    11/4/2013 10:59 AM
    Hi again,
    Now that Christmas is approaching, is it okay to send WRAPPED gifts in a care package, or does the postal service open them? I thought it would be nice for the soldier to have something to unwrap. Have you ever received a wrapped present?
    FYI, I adopted a soldier; mailed the package on a Tuesday (here in California) and received a thank-you email the following Monday/Tuesday (Afghanistan). That was fast! I used a USPS Priority Mail flatrate box. However, I mailed a letter to another soldier and it took a little over 2 weeks.
    Thanks for your help and advice.
  • Benjamin Barhorst
    11/5/2013 9:31 AM
    Christina: If you are supporting a female soldier, then feminine hygiene products are an excellent idea. I guess the only reason I didn't think to include it myself was because I don't get monthly visits, being that I am not equipped for that particular mission.

    Mariel: I have received wrapped gifts in a care package, but it varies slightly from post office to post office. In my hometown, the post office doesn't even look inside your box, they just make sure the tape is good and the customs forms are filled, and send the package on its way. That would be a better question for your postmaster. If all else fails, let the postmaster look through the contents of the box, and wrap the gifts in front of him. That would dispel any worry the postmaster might have. While you're there, don't forget to ask for APO/Military Support boxes. They're the same size as the Priority "Large" but ship for the cost of a "Medium." It's a good deal. The post office will provide them for free for you to take home and stuff with awesomeness for your soldier.
  • Mariel Acuna
    11/6/2013 10:45 AM
    Hello. I used a normal large Priority flatrate box and paid $14.95. But I just picked up some military large Priority flatrate boxes, so I will be sure to ask for the special rate next time I mail out a package.

    I recall while working for the state government that all mail (letters/cards) was opened prior to us receiving them. So I wasn't sure if the army post office there (in Afghanistan) opens packages to check them before giving them to soldiers. When I mailed out the package, they did not ask to see the items. I simply filled out the customs forms.

    Thanks for the information. And I like the word "awesomeness". I hope my soldier will think so too!
  • Mariel Acuna
    11/6/2013 12:24 PM
    Do you happen to know what the difference is in delivery times for packages to get to a FOB as opposed to bigger bases like Bagram or Khandahar? Just curious. Thanks again!
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  • Benjamin Barhorst
    11/6/2013 3:51 PM
    Mariel: The military flat rate boxes are automatically priced lower than the large flat rate boxes. Once they are sealed at your local post office, the next person to open them is almost always the intended recipient. On rare occasion, after they pass through the security systems in Customs, they are opened to verify the contents. Unfortunately, I cannot tell you the difference in time it takes for mail to arrive at different locations, as it can vary so widely. Thank you for your support!!!
  • Benjamin Barhorst
    11/8/2013 1:28 AM
    Anyone interested: I have responded to questions about how to sponsor ("adopt") a soldier previously (see comment dated 10/28/2013@1:25 PM). I have since been made aware of another great organization that does not assign soldiers to sponsors, but instead takes donations (material and monetary) to support a specific US Military asset. The Military Working Dog Team Support Association works to support both the dogs and the handlers from all four branches of the military who are deployed to combat zones. They can be found at
    This is in addition to and for individual sponsorship, or the USO as a mass soldier-support organization, as I have previously mentioned. I will try to keep you up-to-date if I find out about any more soldier-support organizations with proven track records
  • J D
    11/8/2013 11:18 AM
    We have a huge stack of American Hunter and our state's Game & Fish magazines that my fil has given us (thinking our son would want to read them). I was getting ready to throw them away, but wondered if those would be magazines our soldiers would be interested in. My SBS group is getting ready to send a care package to a soldier we adopted...but I don't have a way to ask this specific soldier. Thanks for the help.
  • Diana harris
    11/11/2013 2:42 AM
    fantastic Site
  • Rachal Roach
    11/11/2013 8:56 PM
    Excellent advice. I am an armywife with 2 deployments under my belt, and I still have a hard time knowing what to send.
  • Kayla
    11/13/2013 3:59 PM
    Hello, I recently joined AAUSS and the solider i'm supporting is a girl. Does anyone have any ideas as to what a female would enjoy getting? would shaving cream still be used?

    (she is an SSG if that matters)
  • Hannah S.
    11/15/2013 4:29 PM
    Kayla, I would definitely ask her what absorbency and brand of pads or tampons she uses, because women all know how expensive they can be. For me, the generic ones are the most comfortable, as well as the cheapest. Another thing is a good razor, I personally use a men's Gillette Fusion Proglide Power, because it has a great pivot and sharper blades and more comfortable angle in the blades, hence why I don't use a woman's razor, because I always cut myself, and Gillette's last a good time, ask any male soldier. I adopted a male soldier through AAUUS, and I'm sending him some generic sensitive skin Edge, just in case he does have sensitive skin, and a Gillette Fusion Proglide razor that includes two extra cartridges, as they are a little high, but they do last awhile. The Gillette really is great for sensitive skin, because my boyfriend has used them since he was 18, and won't use anything else. Speaking of shaving cream, I personally use Pure Silk, because it's not too thick for my super soft leg hair, which is why I need a better razor, because not all women get "cactus legs." Another thing that women love is chocolate! Send sparingly and through the winter, because chocolate IS heat sensitive, as we all know. Also ask her about her personal hygiene preferences of everything, because she may want or need a specific type of body wash due to sensitive skin as well, and Dove is good for sensitive skin. My boyfriend uses Axe Anarchy, as many other males use Axe as well. I use Axe Anarchy for Women, you could ask her if she would like to try it. Another thing to consider is what I did, and that is to send a letter to your soldier introducing yourself, and asking her if there is anything new or specific she needs. I still haven't heard from my soldier, and that's making it difficult to know what he wants/needs. Please remember you may have a silent soldier, which makes you want to give up, but they did sign up for support! USPS gives out free boxes, Priority Mail Large has a little ribbon on it that reads "America Supports You," made specifically for soldier care packages, and you will need to fill out a customs form for mail to your soldier. I've heard tobacco products are restricted from mail, but my boyfriend received tobacco in the mail overseas when he served, so that's something I'm really not too sure on. Women are probably pickier than men in most cases, so I would definitely ask her.
  • Benjamin Barhorst
    11/16/2013 10:18 AM
    J.D.-Those magazines would definitely be a good idea for soldiers overseas, we always loved having magazines to browse in our down time, and the big key is variety. If you are offering Fish and Game magazines, and a random mechanic is offering car magazines, then a gun enthusiast is offering all the gun magazines... that gives us the variety we look for, so everyone has something they're interested in.
    Kayla-Hannah definitely hit the nail on the head, but don't discount the basics at the top of the list for food, and the miscelaneous items at the bottom of the list. The crazy thing that I noticed for female soldiers is that they have a lot of the same food preferences and general interests as the guys. That makes it easier to make up a generic box, in which you could include the letter asking about specific needs that she may have.
  • Eunice Scott
    11/19/2013 11:11 PM
    FYI: my post office charges the $14.85 military rate for ANY large flat rate boxes, whether they are the APO/Military ones or not. They are very helpful on any & all questions and filling out forms too. Great experience sending my first 2 boxes out to my grandson. Hope everyone else has the same experience. Benjamin, thank you so much for this site.
  • Geneva Robuck
    11/21/2013 10:44 AM
    My son will be deploying REALLY SOON after Christmas to Afghanistan...We will have our family Christmas at his place on base. My question is...what should we give him for Christmas knowing he will be leaving soon? I know when he was just in training...everything had to fit in his backpack and was wondering how this works with his traveling? Would he need cash? Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated. I took not of some that was mentioned on here like hand warmers, pocket knife, watch. Thank you for the information you keep going goin' on this site and MANY, MANY THANKS from the bottom of my heart to YOU and YOUR FAMILY for all the sacrifices y'all make daily! Hooah!
  • Hannah S.
    11/21/2013 9:42 PM
    I purchased a few more things for my care package to my adopted soldier: strawberry watermelon powder water flavor packets (10 pack), beef jerky, and a 15 pack of small Slim Jims. My boyfriend, having been in Iraq, said that my care package looks like something he would like to get. He also told me that you get sick of drinking just water, so the water flavoring powder packets will be very well liked from my soldier. Having not heard from my soldier, I am not entirely sure what he really wants or needs specifically, but I decided to buy him the good stuff, granted everything is generic, except for the Gillette razor. I hope he likes it! :D I was also thinking about adding some blank Christmas card packs you can get at Dollar General that are blank, so he can write whatever he wants and have Christmas cards to send to his friends and loved ones, but I'm not sure if they have that kind of stuff over there.
  • Deb B.
    11/23/2013 5:03 PM
    There are many scams out there be careful, my son is in the airforce, he's currently serving stateside, not related to care pkg. though I ve sent my share, this concerns purchasing items listed for sale online, tractors, cars, beds, household items in general, the seller claims to be military readying for deployment, so the don't have much time. The price of the items are 30 percent less than the going rate. They claim to use goggle wallet, or some other 3rd party, but they want you to send some amount of money though moneygram, this is a Hugh SCAM. We had an item we wanted to purchase, while doing our do diligence, we checked with google wallet, they said anyone asking for cash upfront in the form of money order, PayPal, money gram are likely all scams. Buyer beware, if it sounds too good to be true......
  • sim
    12/1/2013 2:21 PM
    Hi. I am planning on sending a cake to my soldier in Afghanistan. Is it ok to send it in an aluminium tint? I assume it would be better than in the jars (cake in a jar) I saw people were sending it on the internet... it is in the winter time...please advice....Thank you!
  • Nancy
    12/2/2013 10:48 AM
    Hi there. We organized a care package drive for troops in Afghanistan but I can not seem to find an address to which the packages can be shipped. Any help would be greatly appreciated. The deadline for shipment to an APO is tomorrow so the quicker the response the better.
  • Brittany
    12/3/2013 4:00 PM
    Above poster^ if you email me at I can give you an address.
  • Cindy Tran
    12/20/2013 4:38 AM
    My flyboy is in Afghanistan and says that the water is really distasteful so he requested the Mio water flavors. Orange tastes similar to orange juice which he likes.

    On a side note, if your soldier has an iPhone you can have them go to settings and turn data off but keep wifi on (Google specific instructions for your model) My boyfriend uses wifi to text me when he's free and we've face timed with iPhones a several times using the wifi over there.

    I also record short video clips and text those to him as well, he will eventually get all my messages when he enters a wifi zone.

    Thank you for all the great ideas. Until reading this site i had just been writing letters i didnt realize how much they lacked over there ESP since he never complains! He tells me letters are helping but still is feeling lonely and down and i wanted to send him anything that would make his life any more comfortable.

    I sent him Cards Against Humanity as i heard it was the best game right now i hope him and the other guys play together and get some laughs. Thanks again!
  • Theresa
    12/25/2013 12:31 AM
    Do you know if they have access to a microwave? I was going to send some of the Betty Crocker single serve desserts and Kraft Mac and Cheese in a bowl type things but I don't know if he can use them. I got some great ideas from you for his Christmas box and am looking to stock up on items for future boxes.
  • Krista
    12/30/2013 12:40 PM
    I am wondering if you could find out about a soldier that is deployed in Jordan. SSGT William Fitts E6, He is stationed at Fort Bliss 3rd brigade combat team 1st armored division and he turned 46 Sept 19. Also I have an address was given to me but not by him....I appreciate the list you have helps....I want to send a care package William Fitts E6 113 CAB, JTC APO AE 09315 but I want to make sure he is not a scam....we IM each other almost every day and he says he is 7 hours ahead of Ohio....please let me know if he exist and if you have pictures to send me please send them too... I will compare them to the one he sent me thank you
  • Benjamin Barhorst
    1/1/2014 4:23 PM
    To all, I first apologize for my recent absence from replying. That said, here we go.
    Sim, I would say a cake in a foil pan should be fine. There are no restrictions from sending aluminum through the mail.
    Theresa, we did have microwaves where I was in Iraq. I can't guarantee for sure that they are everywhere in Afghanistan, but my money would be on your soldier having access to one.
    Krista, By the address alone, I can tell you that the soldier in question is legitimate. That is an official US/DoD address through which a soldier would receive mail. I warn against anyone sending care items, especially electronics or money/cash value items to any address which does not look like the one you provided. If you still have any question about his legitimacy, you could ask him to send you a group photo, in which he is doing something that is not natural (pointing at his nose or eyes, holding up three fingers, etc.). The group photo proves that he didn't just get one uniform and is selling himself as a soldier. The pose proves that he is using recent, fresh pictures of himself and that he himself is legitimate and not taking photos from a soldier's facebook page, website, etc. Again, the address alone is proof enough for me. Hope that helps!
  • Samantha
    1/10/2014 4:37 PM
    Hello! Thank you for the very helpful information, we all greatly appreciate it. Now that I have an idea of what to send to my deployed soldier, I thought about, what happens to all the items we send them. Will they be able to bring back some of the items we send them (ex. comic books, personal crafts, personalized calendars, handheld game devices etc) or will they have to leave some of the items behind if they don't fit their luggage? Just a thought. Thank you!
  • Benjamin Barhorst
    1/12/2014 10:29 AM
    Samantha: The soldier would have a few options. Option one is to carry it back to the States, or put it in his packed gear that will meet him a few weeks after he comes home. Option two is to mail items home. Option three is to donate it to another soldier or to a volunteer library (books/magazines). The final option is for the soldier to dispose of the materials. Usually we use "disposal" as a last resort. Most soldiers squeeze every bit of useful life out of items before they are discarded.
  • Geneva Robuck
    1/22/2014 9:55 AM
    My son is 96th Trans Co / Camp Leatherneck and I took his 1st care package to a packaging store to mail today...Although they did send the package the clerk told me I needed to get the 4 digits after the zip code. He told me that if I used a 9 digit zip code that my son would receive his packages faster. My soldier said it is only a 5 digit zip code. Any info would be helpful. Thank you!
  • Mary S
    1/26/2014 2:06 AM
    Thanks for all the care package advice and info. We've been doing "Books for Soldiers" packages, and it is fun to put treats or care items in each box of reading material. I am relieved to hear that all that jerky wasn't a mistake!
  • Alexis
    1/28/2014 8:45 PM
    Hi, I'm doing a school project to help raise money so we could send at least a few care packages. I'm not sure on the amount. I have noticed that not every soldier receives one, & I was wondering if you could help me by giving me some preferences on what each soldier in your unit thinks on these things. & I know that it might not make much of a difference to you but it would help a bunch to me! & hopefully you can help me one on one? Through email? If not, I understand. Thanks!c:
  • Benjamin Barhorst
    1/29/2014 10:00 AM
    Mary: As I said, Beef Jerky is NEVER a mistake! A program that focuses on reading material is great too! I'm so glad that we have thoughtful patriots like yourself to give our servicemen and women something to fill their time!
    Alexis: I have pointed out in previous comments that I am no longer deployed, and am now stationed in a hospital--not a combat unit, and not a unit that deploys. From the soldiers I have talked to who are about to deploy, or just came home, the list I made still applies. If you are having trouble finding individual soldiers to whom you can send care packages, there are several great organizations that can match you with a serviceman/woman who is in need. A few of those organizations are Soldiers' Angels or Adopt a US Soldier. They also give what contact information they have for the soldier they assign to you, so you can find out that soldier's preferences.
  • Meri S
    2/8/2014 2:25 PM
    Mary S,
    I couldn't help but comment when I saw your name! Spelled a little different but I thought it was funny.

    Thank you so much for the advice I couldnt tell you how helpful it is.

    If you are still watching this thread, thanks for the klassy toffee idea. I just ordered one of their care packages for my son and also got a box sent to me. I will let you know what I think!

  • Ashley Buckles
    2/22/2014 3:50 AM
    Hello so my boyfriend will be heading to basic here this fall or sooner an then he will have training right after, so he will be gone a total of 6 months so while he is gone for training an everything is there some stuff that he wont really need cause he will already be supplied with?
  • Ashley Buckles
    2/22/2014 4:00 AM
    And another question I have is my boyfriend chews like chewing tobacco so am I able to send him that?
  • Kelly Lopez
    2/26/2014 3:07 PM
    Thank you for all the information...this is a great help .
  • Sunny
    2/27/2014 6:22 PM
    When deployed, do you have time to respond to all the letters?
    Also, I know that some people get more care packages than others, and some may not get any or only a few from people outside their family, but is there any way to avoid that? I want to give a care package to someone who has not gotten one yet and would like one.
  • Doug Bromley
    3/4/2014 6:52 AM
    I have seen several different posts about how much time it takes to get something sent to troops. I can only talk about my recent experience with a young man from my youth group who was recently sent to Afghanistan. I know from the Facebook Message he sent me that he received my first letter TEN days after it was sent. It was sent the day he departed from the U.S.
    At that point, I worked with another youth group to start making Valentine’s Day cards to him and those he works with. I also sent a letter to him on January 24th. Given the ten day assumption, I sent the package of goodies and Valentine’s Day cards they made on February 1st.
    Both the letter I sent on Jan. 24th and the package sent on Feb. 1st arrived on the same day… February 15th. The math shows that the LETTER took 20 days to arrive and the package took about 14 days. From my personal experience… having tracked personally… it seems that there isn’t any set amount of time when packages arrive. I can say I recommend at least a 14 day turn-around. It really depends on when the Army decides it has something, someone, or enough to send a plane over there.
  • Cassie
    3/5/2014 4:32 PM
    Thanks for the help I now have some great ideas to send my boyfriend
  • James Hendrix
    3/6/2014 1:43 PM
    Hey SPC Barhorst, I was skimming the internet one night and found this website. As a 3 time and currently deployed Soldier to Afghanistan, I'll admit I never signed up or paid attention to care packages. I saw your list and the information you passed on and thought that was awesome. Very accurate info and you kept up with everyone's questions so well. I wanted to say I appreciated you acting as a liason for us and wanted to thank everyone who is making the effort to do more than just say "support our troops". It really is greatly appreciated.
  • Regina
    3/11/2014 3:57 PM
    How may I send care packages if I don't know anyone deployed? Is there an "adopt a troop" list somewhere?
  • Danielle
    3/25/2014 5:54 PM
    This post has been incredibly helpful but I noticed that medicine was never touched on. I know that medics can be used for most situations, but are we able to send tylenol or melatonin or any other nonaddictive over the counter medication?
  • Alyse
    3/31/2014 3:27 PM
    I know there are a thousand comments saying it already, but this information was extremely helpful! I had no idea what types of items the army might provide vs what would be considered a special little taste of home or comfort.
  • Cindy
    4/4/2014 4:01 PM
    Danielle: Medicine like Tylenol actually is addressed somewhere much earlier in the thread. They would prefer that your soldier gets his medicine - even OTC meds like Tylenol - from the medic on base (my paraphrasing).

    I too appreciate all the helpful hints. Our son was recently deployed to Afghanistan (he arrived on the 2nd of this month). I sent my first box (baseball themed - in honor of opening day - we're Tigers fans) about a week before he deployed. I'm hoping that means he'll get it another week or so.
  • Mandy
    4/8/2014 12:59 PM
    Thank you first of all for your bravery and service! This site was so very helpful. I appreciate your time in answering others so honestly. God Bless
  • April
    4/11/2014 4:30 PM
    Thank you for your blog and your service. Do you know if bibles are ever sent in a care packages? I don't want to offend anyone.
  • Amanda
    4/12/2014 3:02 AM
    Thanks for posting this, and for keeping up with it for so long! I know it's hard for soldiers to ask for stuff they need, and I'm sure none want to tell you want they don't want. I want to be sure anything I send will be useful. Thanks again :)
  • jill
    4/26/2014 7:22 PM
    Thanks :) Very helpful discussion. Especially appreciate the info about the flat rate large box, priced for the medium flat rate through the USPO when sending for troops.
  • Trevor Christiansen
    6/1/2014 5:41 AM
    hi Benjamin Barhorst, you missed items in food those are:
    one is pringles (Great item for soldier. Easy to pack and they don't crumble on the way.)
    another is Hard Candy (These hard candies are a best treat while on the move, and they can be handed out to locals as well.)
    what you think about these two things on food items. I am asking this because i am also from military background & recently i launched my site for sharing care packages ideas or tips.
  • Benjamin Barhorst
    6/1/2014 12:05 PM
    Ashley Buckles: In Basic Training, the best things I received were writing materials and reading materials. I was limited to keeping out 5 pictures of my family, so I picked the best 5 I had and the rest went into storage. Food in care packages is unauthorized, and tobacco is strictly prohibited.
    Sunny: Whenever I received letters, I did my best to respond to them. If I received a care package with a large number of letters, I usually sent back one response to all of them. Regarding adopting a soldier, there are a few organizations that have been mentioned several times previously in this thread.
    Regina: Please see my response to Sunny.
    April: As stated above, any religious literature, holy books, etc., should be by request only. Those items are readily available from the Chaplains stationed with us.
    Trevor: I did touch on Hard Candy when I said that, in Iraq, it melts in summer. Having never been to Afghanistan, I don’t know what type of weather they have, so I don’t know how well it does. Pringles would still likely get bounced around in the mail and arrive in smaller pieces than when they were sent. They would most certainly arrive more intact than a bag of chips, but probably not completely intact. In my personal opinion, I don’t care how big the chips are… crumbs taste the same as whole chips!
  • Benjamin Barhorst
    6/1/2014 12:11 PM
    I need to point out that in my comment above (6/1/2014 12:05 PM), I stated that food is unauthorized and tobacco is prohibited. That comment addressed a question regarding Basic Combat Training and Advanced Individual Training (Initial Entry Training) Soldiers. All other soldiers, please feel free to include food and, if appropriate, tobacco products. Just no alcohol for anyone please.
  • Trevor Christiansen
    6/1/2014 1:22 PM
    Benjamin thanks for your reply. one another question is what you thinks about GoPro Camera in care packages for soldiers. These GoPros are good as they are waterproof & virtually indescructible. They take images as well as video and the clips are easy to send back home.
  • Bonita S
    6/8/2014 3:11 PM
    Benjamin thank you so much for this blog!! Some great ideas for care packages and who to contact if you don't have family or friends currently deployed! My daughter is part of a delegation with a program called People to People and as part of one of their service projects, they are sending a care package as a whole using an organization called MOTS. But because it was as a group and not from each of them individually, she wants to do something on her own as well and your blog has helped send me in the right direction to do this. So thank you again!!
    A couple things I was told that would be great to include (that wasn't on your list) are roman noodles, iTunes gift cards, and flip flops to wear in the shower. Everything else I was told about was on your list.
  • amanda
    6/21/2014 11:21 PM
    This is soooo much more helpful then p redeployment and frg advice. My husband is in Africa. He has access to phone and internet 4-6 days or nights even onhis job site.(for those asking) only time he doesnt if he has no access to a nco or if hes just exhausted.

    I recently sent 5 bags of his favorite jerky since the stores sell out fast! As well as sour gummy worms which are not sold there. Also, he wants baby powder bc its so hot and his skin hurts at the end of the day. Then I sent him gum and other candy. And mio drops for water. Even tho he has access to drinks.

    And for those wondering if they should send money when asked, my husband says no bc they all can access their bank accounts. If they cant people in their units will usually help each other out!

    Anyway, I just wanted to say thank you for this page and it being updated currently! We are in JC so it was nice seeing you're at ft riley lol
  • Rose Morgan
    7/2/2014 4:33 PM
    Thanks so much for all the info. my son just recently deployed from Ft. Riley on Saturday. I am already working to get my first box shipped out. Apprecaite it very much!
  • Theresia Nickerson
    7/2/2014 10:32 PM
    I love this information. I hope you don't mind I am copying and pasting your link to my facebook page my family wanted all this information. Thank you. My son was recently deployed and we are sending care packages.
  • Sven (Combat Veteran)
    7/4/2014 3:26 PM
    I am a disabled combat vet. I know what is needed for what type of post, what I don't know is how to "adopt a warrior" who is deployed. How do you get the information? I know how encouraging it is to receive care packages and especially if you are a less popular soldier in the unit.
  • July
    7/7/2014 5:08 PM
    I adopted a soldier months ago and I believe he is what you would refer to as a "silent soldier". I am running out of ideas of what to send him.

    I was wondering how appropriate it would be to send condiments/things to dress up military food? I.e. hot sauce, bbq sauce, honey, jams, etc... Assuming the items are in plastic/will survive shipping.

    I am unsure if he would have access to these items ordinarily? He is stationed in "remote Afghanistan" according to the information I was given from the adoption site.

    I'd hate to keep sending the same things over and over--Just trying to keep a happy solider. Any info would be great!
  • Cathy
    7/9/2014 3:45 PM
    I love your blog. My girl scout troop adopted a soldier awhile back. He is in Afghanistan and emails occasionally. He never "asks" for anything. I've asked him to make a list of what him and his guys would like, alas no requests. Unfortunately, we have already sent many items on your do not send list such as toothbrushes/toothpaste, crystal lite/coffee/granola bars. Question: Is mouthwash something useful or can you get it there? How about detergent pods? (smells from home;) I was going to send the spray suntan lotion and the lady working at the post office told me I could not. I did send some packs of AAA batteries and again, I'm thinking that was stupid. How about boxes of Cereal? Boxes of Pasta? Peanut Butter? Jelly in Plastic Bottles? Bug Repellent? Baby Wet Wipes?
    Lysol wipes? After sun lotion? Thanks for any information. It's hard to know what to send when you don't know the person well and they don't ask for anything.
  • Gretchen
    7/9/2014 6:20 PM
    Thank you so much for posting this- very helpful and NOT offended in any way. God Bless!
  • norma
    7/15/2014 1:13 PM
    Hi Specialist Benjamin Barhorst,
    I have been in contact with a soldier overseas. From reading your post, I am now suspecting this might be a scam. Can you please help me out? He says his name is Ssgt Anderson Grillet and claims he is in Africa. I offered to send him a care package and the address he gave me did not seem right. Its 32 Artillery Brigade Army Barracks Akure, Ondo State, Nigeria. I hope you're able to help me.

    Thank you
  • amanda
    7/15/2014 2:40 PM
    my husband is there and as far as I know thats not a valid addy.
  • norma
    7/18/2014 3:34 PM
    How do you send things out to your husband?
    Is there a military base there?
  • amanda
    7/18/2014 4:29 PM
    theres a base. Then he has a box number thats only his.
  • Tamara
    7/22/2014 2:46 AM
    Thank you so much for this blog Benjamin:) I have a cousin-in-law that's a newly enlisted Marine and on his first deployment in Afghanistan. Your blog was VERY helpful in shopping for his first care package. Thank you for all of the time and effort you put into not only keeping this blog updated but also for your very helpful, courteous, and often humorous responses! I especially loved what you said to someone about your not thinking to include info on feminine hygiene products because you've never "had that mission" or something to that effect lol!!! As a woman who's "still on that mission from time to time" it gave me quite a chuckle! :D Thank you so much for your service, both to this country and to this blog. God bless you and yours!!
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  • tanya
    7/27/2014 7:40 PM
    Benjamin Barhorst I was recently talking to a Ron Arnold says he is in active duty in Kabul Afghanistan. I was wandering is there any way to let These people know that their pictures are being used on Facebook and other places . The person did ask me to send money and gave me a Nigeria address but I didnt . I have read a lot about it and told him he was a scammer from Nigeria and he got mad and logged off right away. I just hate these soldiers are being used like this while fighting for our country. I also would like to know how do i send a care package when I don't have anyone over there .
  • Hustin
    8/30/2014 11:42 AM
    Thank you! My younger brother just deployed overseas and this was super helpful. Thanks to messenger, I already found out he doesn't need toiletries right now and also I told him to make sure and tell me if any of his unit aren't hearing from home so I can send them a care package also. (Got that idea from the lady who adopted a marine. Thank you! I forgot other people are there and not just my brother).

    Can you suggest whether or not to send my brother the game cards against humanity? It's hilarious but definitely insensitive and innapropriate which matches my brother and his units senses of humor, but I want to make sure they won't get in trouble for having it? He wants me to send it. Thanks!
  • Dot
    10/17/2014 6:20 PM
    Thank you for your service and thank you for all the helpful information! Like many who have posted, I have one son-in-law currently deployed and another deploying next year. My daughters are also in the service and have also been on deployment. My Army kids keep me busy! Anyway, on a previous post someone mentioned MagicJack. Awesome way to communicate. FaceTime is another. Gotta love technology!

    FYI: Make sure your soldier tells you when to stop sending care packages or letters when they are getting close to returning home. This way you can send it to their next station.

    Again, thank you!

    Thank you and all in the service, Thank you!
  • Poppy
    11/17/2014 5:59 AM
    HI everyone - my brother is heading out to Afghan in 3 months - trying to get a package together as its his bday about 3 days after he lands so I want to get some good stuff. Its going to be REALLY cold over there when they land. Any updates on what to send for cold weather would be greatly appreciated!

    thanks again, this is so helpful!
  • Cherie
    11/19/2014 6:23 AM
    TY, TY, TY ! My Son just arrived in Africa and I was clueless what to send him... now I am not and my box may have just turned into two or three ! Curious to see how long it takes to get to him, since he claims it is a new APO and things are not really set up yet. God Bless our Troops.
  • Joanne
    11/22/2014 5:31 PM
    sorry, don't have any comment. Just want to receive the email updates! My son is in Kuwait, and I love the ideas!
    Thanks for all you do! 🇺🇸
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  • Sandra
    11/28/2014 7:32 AM
    I am English and live in England, I would be interested to know how to get hold of the flat pack boxes. So far my soldier has only asked for Christmas cards and wrapping materials, but I have included some other items I think he may like. Any information with regards to what to send would be appreciated. Thank you
  • Rachel W.
    1/8/2015 5:47 PM
    Several posts back someone asked about sending magazines. One of our good family friends was a master chief in the Navy and was stationed in Afghanistan. Since I work for a guitar company and we receive lots of music related magazines, I just started sending military flat rate priority mail boxes full of them to him... even magazines in different languages. He said that there was always soldiers/sailors ready to read them. I bet magazines of all types would be greatly appreciated. Now my daughter-in-law is getting ready to be deployed to Kuwait and I was looking for ideas of what to send to her. Thank you to everyone who has added to this conversation and best wishes to your family, loved ones and you.
  • Lou Rothenstein
    1/27/2015 12:03 PM
    Great Blog and service to military families and those who are helping deployed troops. Reminded me of receiving CARE Packages in Vietnam. We received them from many different places in the States.
  • Lou Rothenstein
    1/29/2015 12:55 AM
    Did you get promoted on time? How about school?
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  • Karen L
    2/3/2015 6:47 PM
    Thank you for the wonderful information. We recently adopted a soldier through Homefront Hugs. In the original information it said "crafts to help pass the time". Any suggestions for crafts that men would enjoy and that I could send? For example, I know I can't send model glue. Thanks for your service and thanks for your great info.
  • Torrie
    3/19/2015 12:15 AM
    Can they have applesauce.
  • Benjamin Barhorst
    3/19/2015 8:05 AM
    All: Sorry for my recent silence, the battle rhythm here has been pretty upbeat, hasn't given me much time to respond as I would like. Such is life working in an Emergency Room. Not complaining, I love it here, but it certainly can wear on a person.
    Trevor: I cannot endorse any brand or style of camera, I just use the built-in camera on my phone or tablet. Even though our phones wouldn't work as phones over there, a lot of guys bring them with just for the other features (camera, calendar, alarm clock...). Not too many soldiers actually carried cameras while I was there.
    Sven and Tonya: Soldiers can be "adopted" through Soldiers' Angels (, Adopt A US Soldier (, or Homefront Hugs ( I'm sure there are other organizations that can help you find a soldier, but those are all organizations that I can personally vouch for.
    July: Condiments are provided for pretty well, including several varieties of hot sauce, random sauces, delicious jams and jellies... that's probably not necessary.
    Cathy: Where I was, the laundry was required to be washed by a contractor service. They have their own detergent and we weren't allowed to add our own. Mouthwash is readily available. Cereal was provided; pasta would be hard to prepare, as aren't authorized heating elements besides microwaves. Insect repellent is provided as well; wet wipes and sunburn cream would both probably be welcome.
    Norma and Tonya: both of your stories sound like scammers trying to take advantage of the generousity of Proud Americans. Shame on them, I truly appreciate your support for our troops.
    Hustin: I can't see a problem with Cards against Humanity. Sounds like a wonderful idea.
    Poppy: The army provides us with all the cold-weather gear we need, the only things that could be added are air-activated hand warmers and maybe hot drink mixes like Hot Cocoa.
    Cherie: I can't begin to guess how long it takes for packages to arrive with soldiers. The times vary based on remoteness of soldier, LOGPAC schedules, weather, lunar phase... no way to tell. Sorry.
    Sandra: Unfortunately, the Flat Rate Box Program is only available within the United States because it is a US Postal Service program. Sorry :(
    Karen: While I was in Iraq, I didn't have time for crafts; I wouldn't know where to begin, as I'm sure it would also depend on the soldier's specific interests as well. I do remember a soldier whose wife sent him a model car once a month. There are no-glue models and some that have a small enough bit of glue included that USPS didn't mind. That's about all I can help with in that department.
    Torrie: Applesauce was provided while I was there, available with almost every meal. Good thought though.
  • Cherie
    3/19/2015 11:48 AM
    My Son recently back to the states :-) but while deployed, Cookies,Cookies, Cookies ( put one piece of white bread in wrapping to keep fresh, worked), Lots and lots of beef jerky / slim jims ... Energy drinks huge hit also. Those were the " Send More" for my kid and his buddies. Apparently they had more handwipes/diaper wipes/ hand sanitizer than they could use in two lifetimes.
  • Michelle R
    3/24/2015 9:06 AM
    Hi There I stumbled upon your blog and it's so helpful. Thank you for your service and for your insight as well! I don't believe this question has been asked but I apologize in advance if It has and I missed the reply.
    My step son was recently deployed to South Pacific and I also support a soldier thru AAUSS, I have been tracking the flat rate packages I have sent and they seem to be hung up "in transit" . The Lady at the post office said that once it reaches the military base there is no way to track it, but I sent the first package over a month ago and it's still "in transit" so my question is, would it have let me know with the USPS that it was received on the base, or is the tracking system not functional with APO FPO so on? I know once it gets to the base I can't track it, I was just hoping my first packages had been received and I am not sure how to tell.
    Silly question I know!
    For my adopted soldier stationed in Middle East, I sent some clothing items that were in need per an email, but in my second box I sent a football, we had written about our football teams in a couple letters, thought maybe he would enjoy that on down time, and I also sent some eye drops, glass cleaner and cloths for the sunglasses and some movies out of the bin at Walmart. I can't remember what else I stuffed in... My son of course Just tells me what he wants!
    Thanks for your time
  • Karrie
    3/30/2015 10:50 AM
    My son will be sending packages to a whole unit in Afghanistan. He has raised enough money to mail them all out. Would it be better to send 33 individualized packages (1 box for each Soldier) or box up things separately? (all toiletries & personal hygiene items in a few boxes, food & snack items in a few boxes, books, games, & entertainment in a few boxes?
  • Marta
    3/31/2015 12:00 AM
    Is it OK to send a soldier cash in a care package or only gift card?
  • Marta
    4/2/2015 9:29 PM
    Is it OK to send a soldier cash in a care package or only gift card?
  • Maureen Peng
    4/2/2015 9:44 PM
    Hi, I'm a member of Soldier's Angel. I have adopted soldiers in the past and currently adopting one.
    No soldier should ever go unloved. If anyone know a soldier that is in need of adopted mom/guardian angel please let me know. It breaks my heart to think a soldier has no support. I care and love them like my own child.
  • 68W Steve
    4/8/2015 2:06 AM
    Maureen Peng, how are you associated with that group? I could find no listing of anyone with your name as being a point of contact for them. First off it's "Solider's Angles" not angle, singular. 2nd is there is a lot of scamming currently going on in the world trying to get men and women's information that served or are currently served. It's not that I don't trust you, I don't trust anyone. I am a veteran so I take the safety and security of my fellow brothers and sisters retired or active pretty seriously. So if you can please provide someway to contact you through the Solider's Angles, say an email address from them etc.


  • Maureen
    4/8/2015 2:51 AM
    68W Steve,
    First of all, people miss spell words sometimes when they're typing too fast, it happens. Second, English is not my first Language, but thanks for putting it out. You're not going to find my information because I'm a volunteer member and only I can long in to open my
    information about my assignments. They are not going to put our information to the public. They assign me a soldier, give me name, address and email. We are not allowed to disclose our soldiers information. I don't know how its done on there end, but all I know is that these soldiers sign up to be adopted. I saw a post from a year ago on this site that a soldier needed support and made me feel so sad, thats why i post the last information. I didn't just randomly do it. This is my team leader information: Tina Englen
    Chaplin's Support team leader
    Deployed Adoption team leader
    2700 NE Loop 410,
    Suite 310
    San Antonio, Tx 78217
    Office: 210-629-0020
    Fax: 210-627-0024
  • Maureen
    4/8/2015 3:10 AM
    I've been working with soldiers in a dental clinic at a military base almost 10 years. They come to see us for exam before deployment and back from deployment. A lot of the AITs are so young straight out of high school. Some even join the military cause they have no family, or been kick out the house, and sometimes also homeless. I'm a single mom, so when I found out about this and see this with my own eyes it just tore me up. I don't usually reply to comments, but I'm proud and serious about Soldier's Angel. I'm from a third world country, born in a refugee camp. If it wasn't for soldiers that sacrifice for this wonderful country I would be dead. I will always treasure and support all my soldiers, and never take freedom for granted.
  • Malena
    4/29/2015 11:21 AM
    I just signed for "adopt a soldier" and I am waiting for the AAUSS to assign me a person to send care packages to. I am not sure how this entire thing is going to work, but I trust that they will pick a person who REALLY needs it. I believe that this is the idea- dividing the help equally among the heros :)
    I would hate knowing someone recieves 3 boxes a month, and someone else none :(
  • Val
    5/12/2015 5:54 PM
    super helpful! thank you!
  • Tracey
    5/13/2015 10:21 PM
    I have been curious and you have answered a lot of my questions! I met an Army soldier online from a dating site just a few days ago. He says that he is using his commander's laptop and messenger to communicate. He says that his commander uses an I phone 6 which he says keeps his location in hiding from the enemies. Anyhow he wants me to send him an i phone otherwise he may lose communication with me. I told him I have an i phone 4 to send to him. He also wants me to send him personal hygiene stuff, t shirts, boxers, cookies, etc. He also wants a cross necklace with my picture. He gave me an email address for me to request his address. Please give me advice on if this is true love or a scam?
  • Karrie
    5/14/2015 8:16 PM
    Tracey, Would you ever ask someone you just met a few days ago to send you an iPhone? This is probably a scam, ESPECIALLY if the person doesn't have an APO address. You didn't say one way or another if it was APO,but i am going to guess the answer is no. I would cease all contact with this individual.
  • Sandra
    5/15/2015 5:17 AM
    Tracey I would whole heartedly agree with Karrie. I had a similar experience and was advised to keep well away. S xx
  • John
    6/8/2015 1:26 PM
    I come from a long background of Military Family, I would like to write to a Soldier either male or female to pass my time away. Years ago I use to write to inmates in prison but when they will never see freedom again it was kind of futile to keep writing to them. I'd like to bring some sort of relativity to a Soldier who doesn't have that being in another country on the other side of the world. I could use a friend who will sooner or later come home but while they are where they are at, I would like to write them. Who do I ask for that to happen? Thank you for your help.
  • John
    6/8/2015 2:12 PM
    Hey Tracy, if you want to give away iphone free you could send it my way, my tracfone is 11 years old, I'll put your iphone4 to good use. I'll write to you also & I'm not a scam artist trying to rip you off. Think about my situation to you then you decide if I would be a better person to write to you or the other guy scamming you. I'm in the USA where we could meet at some time soon. Your decision, ok Tracey?
  • Lisa
    6/9/2015 1:42 PM
    I was connected to a soldier through an acquaintance, but now have reason to believe it's all false. We chatted a bit, he said he needed a buddy to break up the days. When I asked if he needed anything, he asked for body wash, a bible, and a sweatshirt, so that wasn't suspicious but I couldn't send anything because he said he didn't have the address on a new deployment. He thanked me many times for the support. Today he sent a message calling me a fraud and it was loaded with abusive language. Now I'm wondering if he's a fraud or a soldier who's snapped. Is 1st Lt. Bryant Cinatl, Army Rangers real? If he's fake I want to report him, otherwise give him space. Thanks.
  • Maria
    6/9/2015 4:12 PM
    I'm currently speaking to a soldier who says he's in Nigeria how can I find out if he in fact exist his name is Sergeant Patrick Lawrence I wanted to send him a care package he gave me an address and name of an agent to where it will go to need help please.
  • tonya
    6/10/2015 5:41 AM
    OMG after reading your blog and checking the address that my son gave me and noticed the one I put on the care package was wrong I put APOKE instead of APOAE do you think he will still get his package? please email me back with info this is the first time im on here and don't have much time to read through all the post again.
  • SpecialistBenjamin Barhorst
    6/10/2015 3:04 PM
    John, regarding finding a soldier to write to, the best advice I can give is to apply though Soldiers' Angels or Adopt a US Soldier as referenced in previous comments. Your next comment about receiving a new iPhone from another poster seemed crude and inappropriate.
    Lisa, if he never gave you an address, then it sounds like his own fault for not providing the information needed. If he provided an overseas address that didn't have an American ZIP code, then he is entirely fraudulent. More below.
    Maria, look for an address similar to the one I put below.
    Tonya, I'm sorry, but I don't have access to the email address you provided with your comment, as I am not a site administrator, I am only a blogger for this site. I can tell you that, as long as the ZIP on the package was correct, it should still get to him. Also, for future reference, the city is APO and the state is AE, so there should at lease be a space between the two.
    All: a military overseas address should look similar to this:
    SPC Barhorst
    B Troop 5/4 CAV
    APO AE 09344

    That was my address when I was in Iraq. If it doesn't have APO (Army Post Office) for the city and AE (Armed Forces Europe) or AP (Armed Forces Pacific) for the State, then it's most likely fraudulent. In any case, if you suspect fraud, you can either establish proof of person (request a picture with a specific pose or holding a sign with the date on it) or just cease contact. I would just cease contact myself, but some people want to give the benefit, so holding the sign for a picture is a good second option.
  • SpecialistBenjamin Barhorst
    6/10/2015 3:27 PM
    Michelle, USPS packages to overseas servicemembers are officially received into US Military hands in New York. Unfortunately, the post offices in overseas locations do not have tracking capabilities. Sorry :( Also, eye drops are available from the soldiers' medical teams, and we would prefer that they receive them through Military channels so that if there is a problem with their eyes then it can be tracked by medical personnel. This can also affect a soldier's benefits when his service is complete.
    Karrie, it's a personal call on bulk vs individual packaging, but if it was me then I'd go bulk. You'll spend less on shipping, and the items you send would still get to all the soldiers that need them.
    Marta, I don't think there is any restriction on sending cash vs card, but the current USPS guidance is that cards are safer to send.
    Maureen, I appreciate that you help with Soldiers' Angels, I had an Angel supporting me while I was overseas, and it was great just knowing that someone cared, especially someone that I had never met. I would just advise that, rather than asking for soldiers' information yourself through this outlet, you instead tell people how to nominate service members needing support to the Soldiers' Angels program. Also, direct contact information to your team leader shouldn't have been publicized through this outlet.
    Steve, I appreciate your candidness toward Maureen, and your concerns were entirely valid, but your comments seemed accusatory. Now, instead of a friend who only wants to help, we have a potential friend placed in a position that she feels she must defend her desire to help. Both parties could have handled this better.
    Tracey, the email address (UN Diplomat International... should @an official domain, not @gmail); a request for a cell phone and not much else... and an overseas soldier on a dating site... all scream "SCAM!" to me. If you replied to the email address, and the address given doesn't look like the one I gave in my previous comment, then cease contact. Maybe just cease contact without emailing the address given.
  • Michael
    7/4/2015 12:38 PM
    I read were some solder's liked getting Hot Wheels and I have a couple hundred that have never been opened and would like to donate them to the troops. I'm in Arizona and have no idea were to bring them or how to send them can someone help.
  • Yvette
    7/10/2015 11:00 PM
    Hi all. As an alternative to sending shaving cream cans overseas; send hair conditioner instead. I know that sounds weird but it works! It keeps the skin smooth, and doesn't bother any unfortunate nicks.
  • Ryan
    8/29/2015 1:17 AM
    Just stumbled across your page looking for ideas of what to send to a friend, That was a loooong wall of comments to read through, but I feel I've compiled a good list of things to send. He'll be in Afghanistan about 5 months i believe, considering sending a package about every 2 weeks.
    Thanks for all the ideas and the continued responses to questions, it's been very informative.
  • Cat
    9/5/2015 1:21 PM
    Thank you. Very helpful. My son is a ranger. I needed guidance.
  • Ashley
    9/14/2015 6:42 PM
    Are we aloud to send out soldiers tins of chew if they do?
  • Vincent Cooper
    10/16/2015 3:54 PM
    Thank you so much. I needed it.
  • Damian DiVita
    10/21/2015 8:14 PM
    Hi there, My cousin is deployed in the Stan and loves to cook, is it ok to send potting soil, so she can grow fresh herbs ?
  • SpecialistBenjamin Barhorst
    10/27/2015 1:08 AM
    Michael: Never heard anything about Hot Wheels while I was over there. There's a lot of guys that build custom RC cars, but definitely not the same. My information could be out-of-date too, though.
    Yvette: good call. Hadn't thought of it until now, but from a Medic's perspective, that makes perfect sense!
    Ashley: USPS doesn't like tobacco going through the mail, but in my experience, they usually turn a blind eye to APO/FPO packages just because they understand where it's going, who it's going to, and our lack of availability otherwise. The military side doesn't have any rules against it.
    Damian: I've heard of a few groups of Soldiers who had potting soil and Kentucky Blue Grass seed sent to Iraq so they could have a small piece of lawn to take care of. Their lawn was still there two years later when they went back, because the units that took over their housing area took care of their lawn. That said, I would still check with the postmaster before sending. There's obviously nothing against receiving it, it's just a matter of how it gets there!
  • Elizabeth
    10/28/2015 2:25 PM
    Thank you so much....first for your initial post and secondly for continuing to respond four years later. (That was probably not the original plan!!) These are great ideas and I will certainly use them when I send care packages. Again thank you.
  • SpecialistBenjamin Barhorst
    10/28/2015 7:57 PM
    Elizabeth: You are absolutely right, using this as a forum for Care Package questions was not my original intent. On that note, the feedback I've received has been incredibly positive, and the questions and suggestions have all been so numerous and positive that it would be impossible to ignore it. I am so happy that I was able to help so many people, and I'm sure you could multiply the number of people who have benefitted from this list by at least 30 compared to the number of people posting comments. I think the greatest benefit for this page is if you search "care package guide," this page is the third result on Google and the sixth on Bing; until about a year ago it was the first on both. Before this blog was written, there was no good, thorough guide (with both what to and especially what NOT to send) available by a basic internet search (I looked because I saw the need for a guide in the care packages that my platoon mates and I were receiving). "See a need, fill a need." I'm glad I've been able to help so many Service Members as well as those who support us!
  • michele2
    10/31/2015 1:13 AM


    wow it has been a great and good thing know this man called Dr abulu the love spell caster who helped me get my husband back after two years . it all happened when my husband traveled to Canada for contract and during his stay in Canada him said him is no longer in love with me any more at first i thought it was a joke but after two months him finally said it was over and i was pregnant having his baby inside me and him abandoned me , i cried all day and night because i loved him so much and i never wanted to put to birth without the present of my husband , so i started to seek help from every source and even had to contact some other spell casters but no help until my friend who is currently schooling in Africa told me about this man called Dr abulu of,and i decided to give him a last try as i have tried many before , but to my best surprise after two days of telling him my problems and him told somethings am to do and i did them my husband mother called me asking after my child and after two hours my husband called begging to forgive him say he has been under a black magic spell from one other woman so this was how i manage to gain the love of samlin my husband back , so with this great help rendered by Dr abulu i promise not to rest until i share his good work to the world wide okay
    if any one is out there passing through same or similar situation should also contact him today for help

    his email;
    phone number +2347064239871
    Michelle Samlin

    • SpecialistBenjamin Barhorst
      11/1/2015 1:33 AM
      This comment is FRAUD and VIOLATES COMMENT POLICY FOR THIS SITE. I anticipate it will soon be deleted. Until it is deleted, I urge anyone reading this to ignore its content.
    • SpecialistBenjamin Barhorst
      11/1/2015 1:33 AM
      This comment is FRAUD and VIOLATES COMMENT POLICY FOR THIS SITE. I anticipate it will soon be deleted. Until it is deleted, I urge anyone reading this to ignore its content.
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  • Tish
    11/14/2015 3:51 PM
    How can I ship Dr Pepper to someone in Jordan??? Is there a place over there I can go through that would deliver it? Or would I need to ship it APO?
  • SpecialistBenjamin Barhorst
    11/14/2015 11:16 PM
    If you have an APO address for your service member, then that's the way to go. That's the only way I know for it.

    USPS Flat rate boxes will be your friend on this one. Soda weighs a lot, so you want to spend the least you can to get it there.

    I recommend sending it in bottles. Cans don't survive shipping especially well.
  • Laney
    11/21/2015 12:08 PM
    I think it's important to note here that there are a lot of scammers out there preying on lonely women. If a soldier ask you for money (or in one case an iPhone) don't do it. ALL military emails end in .mil - not, and every military person has this kind of email address: firstname(dot) or - you get the idea. Also, only send to an APO or FPO address. Even if he says he's stationed in Africa, if he's asking you to mail something to an address in Africa and not an APO or FPO, it's a scam. If they send you a picture you can search the internet with it at Do some research, don't take his word for it. One woman lost $20,000 because her "soldier" was wounded and the Army wouldn't pay for his care in England. She even received a phone call from his commander! Don't believe any paperwork they send, they're even getting better at forging DD214s. Our military men and women are sacrificing for your safety - do you really think one of them would ask for money? God Bless
  • SpecialistBenjamin Barhorst
    11/21/2015 4:35 PM
    Laney-Good info, with 2 caveats:
    1. The DoD has changed all the email addresses. It is now firstname.MI.lastname(numbers here if required)
    2. Our government email address is "For Official Use Only," and is not authorized to be used to sign up for commercial websites or personal/non-official business; every soldier I know has a gmail, hotmail, or yahoo email address for personal use.

    The biggest indicators of a scam, as have already been mentioned, are:
    1. addresses (APO or FPO for city; AP, AE, or AA for state, and a standard 5-digit ZIP code)
    2. requests for money
    3. requests for high-end electronics

    You can
  • Colleen
    11/22/2015 6:40 PM
    Thank you so much for your original post and for keeping up with it all these years later! I was researching today what to send a friend's son in the Army stationed overseas and your tips definitely helped shape what was on the list. Thank you too for your service for our Country!!! Happy Thanksgiving!!!
  • Denise
    12/1/2015 3:58 PM
    I have a question that I was a Proetz to buy a diploid army sergeant. After a couple of days corresponding with him say nothing but nice things to me. Now he's asking for money. This sounds like a major skin has anyone else experienced this
  • Pam Oxendine
    12/2/2015 2:44 PM
    Check out We are a 501 c 3 that sends care packages to deployed K9 teams.
  • Amy
    12/2/2015 11:37 PM
    I'm sending my first set of care packages tomorrow, and I read through three years of posts and comments to help build them. I just wanted to say THANK YOU for keeping this thread current. I added lots of items I wouldn't have thought of beforehand. Cheers and Happy Holidays!
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  • SpecialistBenjamin Barhorst
    12/8/2015 5:13 PM
    Colleen and Amy: glad to help, also considering doing "Care Package Guide 2.0" to include the information in the comments so readers don't have to sift through 285 (and counting) comments when they are looking for their ideas
    Denise: 2 comments above yours, I addressed this exact concern. Sounds like a scam. Get out before you lose money over a fraud!
    Pam: I checked out your website and, pending a response from site administrators, I *cautiously* endorse them. More to follow after I receive a response from the site admin.
  • April
    12/14/2015 5:22 PM
    I really appreciate all the comments here. I'm getting ready to send my first care package to my grandson who's 'playing in the sand'... and really had no idea where to start. This has been SO helpful. Thank you so very much!
  • helen shawn
    12/18/2015 11:23 PM
    After being in relationship with him for 3 years, he broke up with me, I did everything possible to bring him back but all was in vain, I wanted him back so much because of the love I have for him, I begged him with everything, I made promises but he refused. I explained my problem to someone online and she suggested that I should rather contact a spell caster that could help me cast a spell to bring him back but I am the type that never believed in spell, I had no choice than to try it, I mailed the spell caster, and he told me there was no problem that everything will be okay before three days, that my ex will return to me before three days, he cast the spell and surprisingly in the second day, it was around 4pm. My ex called me, I was so surprised, I answered the call and all he said was that he was so sorry for everything that happened, that he wanted me to return to him, that he loves me so much. I was so happy and went to him, that was how we started living together happily again. Since then, I have made promise that anybody I know that have a relationship problem, I would be of help to such person by referring him or her to the only real and powerful spell caster who helped me with my own problem and who is different from all the other ones out there. Anybody could need the help of the spell caster, lotto, his email is DRAISEDIONSPELLCASTER@OUTLOOK.COM you can email him if you need his assistance in your relationship or any other problem like wining lottery.
    • SpecialistBenjamin Barhorst
      12/19/2015 8:08 PM
      The comment above, written by helen shawn, Date/Time Stamped 12/18/2015 at 11:23 PM violates the comment policy of this website. It advertises FRAUDULENT services to unsuspecting people. I have contacted the site administrators to have it removed, and I urge anyone reading it to disregard it until it is deleted.
  • Elaine Dillon
    12/21/2015 11:17 PM
    THANK YOU for posting reliable organizations for sending soldier boxes. I helped with fund raising for a non profit military support organization this past year. When we got together to pack up Christmas boxes, the boxes were a jumble of this and that. I was almost sick thinking of the soldiers opening them. So I'm going back to working with a local group of friends as I did in the past. We are always trying to update our items to include what is needed. (We often ask wives or moms about favorites to send, or help them with sending their own boxes.) By the way, some of the favorite useful items our returning soldiers mentioned were the green or brown calf socks, small LED flashlights, rite in the rain notepads, Mechaniz gloves, coffee, Amazon gift cards, neck coolers, beef jerky, and microwave items like Chef Boyardee. I am so glad I found your blog. It is a comfort! May I ask about Operation Shoebox? Have you anything to say about that organization? Is it still active? THANKS AGAIN!
  • Stephanie
    12/23/2015 4:47 PM
    My boyfriend just deployed about a week ago, so I had a calendar made for him to hang up. He only took two pictures with him so his wall looked rather sad. The pictures for the calendar were of us and the activities we did during those months this past year. He LOVED it! I also added a personal touch to it and included important dates so that he would remember. There were small comments throughout to make him smile when he read them too.
  • Tracy
    12/28/2015 10:24 AM
    Hi I was just wondering I have recently started talking to a soldier in Afghanistan I'm sending a package to him but he has said that it has to be sent to Africa to be picked up also I asked if there was anything he would like specifically as it is Christmas in he said he would like a iPhone 6s and I've to send cash for it as its easier for the the name I was given to send it to was Abduia Abdul latif Gana /west Africa seemingly it's the diplomat who picks these packages up ??? Could you let me know if this is true or not please
  • Karrie
    12/28/2015 3:56 PM
    Tracy, the "soldier" you are talking to is a con artist. Cease all contact with that person. Soldiers will not ask you to send money or iPhones , and packages will all go to APO or fpo address only.
  • Tracy
    12/29/2015 10:40 AM
    Thankyou Carrie I said that to the person as he was speaking to me for a bit he actually asked me not to bother sending anything to him just still wanted to speak to me but I told him j wasn't intrested I just found it very heartbreaking as the officer of the picture he sent in stuff must have actually in maybe could still be deployed somewhere although I also have been shown his military I'd too I'm from the UK you see in I'm not a silly person I wish in now want to actually help a real solider who is going through this stuff my heart goes out to every person in the army and navy of course Godbless them all each and every one of them men and woman are risking there lives so we are safe Thankyou Karrie apperciated Hunni Godbless I hope you have had a wonderful Christmas in have a great Newyear too Hunni 😊
  • SpecialistBenjamin Barhorst
    12/30/2015 6:52 AM
    Tracy: I've said many times before through comments in this post as well as in another blog I wrote ( we have access to money. We wpn't ask a stranger for high-end electronics. Those types of requests are made by fraudsters from other countries whose primary idea of America comes from movies and television (which is why they think we're rich and stupid). Also, as Karrie mentioned, all packages to US Service Members go through US Postal APO/FPO addresses. If someone says that they are serving in the US Military and asks you to send packages to addresses that are not US Postal Addresses ending in APO/FPO, AE/AP/AA and a 5-digit ZIP code, then it's totally fake.
    Legitimate service members will ask for things that will make life more comfortable, like Beef Jerky and fresh socks. Glad you were able to be set right when you came to this blog!!!
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  • Randee
    1/20/2016 4:58 AM
    I have read All the comments and received sooo many wonderful ideas, thanks to all, especially SpecialistBenjamin Barhoust! How wonderful you are to keep everyone updated for so long!!! Although time consuming, I found it extremely helpful to read all the comments as many topics are already covered and thus keeping me from asking any repetitive questions, hopefully saving everyone some precious time. I will also be signing up with Soldier Angels in hopes of being able to provide comfort to some individuals that don't otherwise receive any mail or packages. Again thanks much!!
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  • Kelly Brown
    2/26/2016 1:44 PM
    A lot of times I used individually wrapped hard candy as packing peanuts, and ziploc'd everything. My soldier really appreciated clean sheets, lip balm, and sun screen. I even sent them a swimming pool and beach balls. As an Army mom I am preparing myself again to be strong for my soldier, and these boxes are one way of doing just that. I always send plenty for his guys too.
  • Maeg
    2/29/2016 12:02 PM
    First of all thank you SO much for posting this detailed guide because it was such a huge help! my boyfriend is deployed and it was an out of the blue thing (he was told 2 weeks before he had to leave) and im very new to this so i was worrying on how to send a package, what to put in it, etc. and i sent him 2 and they got there in 9 days and he absolutely loved them! but unfortunately his iphone just stopped working 3 weeks into the deployment so he mailed it back to me, i went to apple got a replacement and now i have to ship it back BUT im nervous sending it USPS like the others? i don't want it to get stolen and i read that if i put the value it could cause an issue. i was going to put sheets, pillow, and some other stuff in the box too so its not just the iphone. I wasnt sure if thats a good idea or not? Thank you!
  • SpecialistBenjamin Barhorst
    3/2/2016 2:27 AM
    Maeg, as in comments above, I am very happy to help. I've had no issues sending or receiving electronics through the mail. The majority of the problems with high-value items being "lost" in the mail have been resolved since USPS increased their investigations and enforcement of Mail Theft laws in the Military Mail System. That being said, I would still get enough insurance on it to cover the full value of the phone plus 20% for your trouble, just in case it were to be damaged or "lost." Another thing to make sure you do when sending the package is to write up or print an extra to/from label and place it inside the box, in case the outside label were damaged. I hope this helps!!!
  • Angela
    3/4/2016 1:45 AM
    God Bless you Mr. Barhorst for your loyalty, time and patience to this blog. Mostly, thank you for serving our great country! I came across this blog while doing some research on a drive that I will be starting through my company. I found it extremely helpful!! I must also say that you did a great job of replying to all the comments! Way To Go!!

    I'm sorry, but I need to throw this out there real quick. LADIES!!!! USE THAT BEAUTIFUL MIND THAT GOD GAVE YOU AND THINK!! I know that the dating scene is hard, but if any 'man' has to ask you for money (military or not) before you even met him, RUN!! It's not real. You're beautiful and you can find someone so much better!

    Anyways, like I said, I am starting a drive to get as many items as I can rounded up to send to our men and women oversees. Do you have any pointers? I want to make this best, biggest, most awesome drive EVER!! Any advice will be greatly appreciated since this is my first time to do something along these lines. I have put on many softball tournaments to raise funds, but nothing like this.

    I got a pretty good list made from your suggestions and the input of others. One of my guys at work is a vet and said that phone cards was one of his favorite things to get. I didn't see that mentioned. Are phone cards a thing of the past? A couple other things that I was curious about is adult coloring books, body powder, pillows, sports drinks/mixes, and batteries. I'm sorry if you already answered on these, but in my defense, there sure is a bunch to read here! :) Also, what about sunglasses? If they are anything like me, I loose and break my shades all the time.

    I'm waiting on some phone calls back as to where and who to ship the items to. Do you know if I need to send everything to one person or is there a way to send everything to a group? Any insight on this?

    Thank you again! God Bless you, God Bless our Soliers, and God Bless the United States of America!!

  • Terri
    3/9/2016 7:31 PM
    I have been assigned a soldier from To those of you wishing to help out, I urge you to contact one of these organizations. They have a screening process to not sign up single people with married soldiers and guidelines of the participation your children are allowed. MY point is, guys with not much aren't asking for expensive stuff. Berkeley, chapstick, and some hot cocoa packets; Not expensive stuff. The guys that were in the military I work with, state that the soldiers look forward to these packages. If they can't use it, another can. The whole point is to help out. I am glad to see the website to send packages to our military working dogs, I will be sure to sign up and get a package out to one of them too.
    Thanks for the good tips Ben.
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    • SpecialistBenjamin Barhorst
      3/14/2016 8:13 AM
      Anyone reading the above comment, posted by "amanda" on 3/10/2016 6:45 AM, please be aware that it is FRAUDULENT, MISLEADING SPAM. Please do not respond to it. I have asked the site administrators to remove it. Until then, please disregard the post above as referenced.
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  • SarahS
    5/1/2016 7:40 PM
    I've been talking to a person in the Army via an online dating site. After a month chatting he asked me to send money for care package because they are not allowed to receive goods due to security. He said he's stationed in Syria.
    I think this is a scam and didn't send anything. However, I think this person is using a soldiers pictures to scam people because he sent me pictures of "him" in uniform and some other per my request. Could you be able to check if the person is still in the Army? He claimed he is Ssgt Corey Young.
  • Laney
    5/1/2016 10:58 PM
    You can go to TinEye,com and upload his picture. If the scammer has used it before that is were it will most likely show up. It has for me. You can also go to and do a search on military scammers. But this very much sounds like a scam, #1. No troops are stationed in Syria. #2. All care packages are sent to an APO or FPO mailbox. I've sent many to my nephew and niece over the years. My nephew is Special Ops in Afghanistan and even he gets my packages. #3. A US soldier would not under any circumstances ask for money. Try searching on Google for Staff Sgt Corey Young. According to his instagram, he in the good ole USA. Yes, you are being scammed.
  • Laney
    5/1/2016 11:11 PM
    SarahS I just checked...the real Staff Sgt. Corey Young, 157th Logistics Readiness Squadron, is stationed at Pease Air Force Base in New Hampshire. Take some time and research scammers. My friend was scammed out of $20,000. What we found out was the scammer was out of Nigeria and stole pictures off Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. They make up a fake "military" email address and since most people don't realize it's fake, they are tricked. My friend's scammer used an email address - looks real right? wrong! If you are going to stay on the online dating sites, be sure you run the guy's picture through
  • SarahS
    5/2/2016 4:11 AM
    Thank you very much, Laney. Ive run the pictures through the site, nothing came up. But I agree no real US soldier would ask for money from an online dater. It's sad they are using our heroes' name to scam people. I found Ssgt Young on Google too but he's not the one I have pictures of. Everything was so real (he sent pictures as I asked, with certain poses) until the request for money came up.
    Hope everyone out there be cautious with online dating.
    Thank you Specialist Benjamin Barhost for starting and keeping up this blog. Very helpful!!!
  • Sara N
    5/19/2016 12:03 PM
    Hi Laney,
    I too believe I am being scammed the same way SarahS is being scammed. He has been asking for money to pay another solider to take his place so that he came come home from Syria. I have two pictures of him. I ran the pictures in the site you mentioned to SarahS but nothing came up. He claims to be Sgt Robert Browne, US Army stationed currently In syria. Could you be able to check if the person is still in the Army?
  • Laney
    5/19/2016 12:16 PM
    There is a Sgt Robert Browne, but he's retired. If you send the pictures to I will research them for you. But, honestly, that's a new one...he's going to pay another soldier to take his place??? BIG RED FLAG: No soldier would ask you to send money. As I mentioned before, my nephew put in 5 tours in Iraq and Afghanistan, he's SF and even he can get cash AND my goody packages. Also, if you found him on OkCupid or Plenty of Fish, both sites are notorious for posting pictures of soldiers who in fact are scammers.
  • Cynthia Lawson
    6/1/2016 11:45 AM
    Thank you for your service Benjamin. My son will be going to an area close to Saudi Arabia soon. I am already planning on sending him care packages as soon as I get his address. I am so grateful to you for providing this information and the names of other agencies that I can adopt a soldier -so to speak - that would like to get goods from home. I am also checking to see if is still in operation here in Ok. They send out care packages to as many as they can. God Bless you, our country and our soldiers.
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