Avoid sending any type of food unless you personally know the soldier you are sending to. These days, most throw it away if they do not know the sender.

Here are some alternative items that would be better than food…

AT&T phone cards
Baby wipes and body wipes
Batteries (AA)
Dental floss
Waterless hand sanitizer
Eye drops
Saline nasal spray
Black sunglasses
Foot powder
Disposable razors
Soap (non-scented because bugs like scented items)
Shampoo (non-scented because bugs like scented items)
Baggies with Zip Lock
Tube Socks
“Gold Bond” type anti-fungal powders
fleece gloves, scarves and blankets
lotion (non-scented because bugs like scented items)
Lidocane 4% cream

For food, we recommend that ANYTHING you send be packaged and factory sealed. Due to concerns for the health and safety of the soldiers, and as much as we don’t want to say this, please do not send home-cooked anything to soldiers other then to your relatives or people who know you. Factory packaged only. Sorry. The soldiers are told to throw away anything that is not in a factory package.

We also recommend that all food items be sent in an individual zip-loc bag so the soldiers can have an easier time of packing their meals for the day. The bags are also useful for a host of other things.

Heater Meals
Breakfast-type foods and drinks
Small, single pot packages of coffee
Hot chocolate packages
Canned tuna and chicken
Canned Chef Boyardee ravioli, beef-a-roni, spaghetti & meatballs, etc (in “zip-top” or easy to open cans)
Canned fruit (with flip top lids)
Beef Jerky
Canned Nuts
Cereal bars, granola bars, etc.
Pre-sweetened powdered drinks, Kool-Aid, Gatorade, etc.

Some other items we have seen requested include the following…

Beanie Baby toys to give the Iraqi kids.
Baseballs, old ball gloves, footballs, frisbees and as one solider put it “anything made by Nerf.”

1 – Try to keep your package the size of a shoe box or similar. When we send out a box, we use FLAT RATE BOXES that the US Postal Service offers. It is a very good deal – you can cram as much as you can in the box and shipping is a flat $12.95. Also, the boxes are FREE from the US Post Office.

Large packages over 25 pounds probably will not get through or be greatly delayed.

2 – Use the complete military address, including the full name of the recipient.
SFC Doe, John
E/5-7 ADA (fwd)
Operation Enduring Freedom
APO AE 99999

3 – When sending to the whole unit, address the package to an individual also.
SFC Doe, John
E/5-7 ADA (fwd)
Operation Enduring Freedom
APO AE 99999

4 – Include a note to the recipient. Tell them about your support of them and your hopes of a safe return. If you are sending to the unit in general, explain that these books are a gift to the whole unit and to give them to someone else once they are finished.

It is also good to send a small care package of useful items along with your book. See the top of this page for a recommended list.

5 – Include your return address. Packages with no valid return address will be considered a suspicious package and likely to be destroyed according to the Defense Department.

– Although some troops will request “anything,” we have found that books on the Apocalypse or end of the world are not as well received as mystery novels for example.

7 – Do not send us a book to send to a soldier, mail it to the soldier directly.

8 – Do not send pornography. The Defense Department tells us that most troops live in an area where any type of pornography is illegal and could result in problems for the recipient.