It is hard for out troops being away from friends and family during the holiday season. This makes it an ideal time to send them a flat rate package. Last year at this time our son was in the middle of his second tour of Iraq and he loved getting goodies from home. With him doing two tours I learned the ins and outs of sending him flat rate packages. On our son's first tour he was based at a town called Hit just northwest of Ramadi; the base was so small they really didn't even have a PX to speak of. For 6 months of his tour he was on the graveyard shift so if we didn't send food he was pretty much stuck eating MRE's. Needless to say I became an expert at sending care packages so I am going to pass my knowledge forward as I know there are many other soldiers like him who would love some extra care packages.
If you don't know a soldier but would like to help a soldier you can adopt a soldier through Soldiers Angels. You adopt them for the duration of their tour though, it is not just a one time thing. Our son told me there are a lot of soldiers that are alienated from families for one reason or another and don't receive much. Soldier's Angels sounds like the remedy for that problem.
You must mail your package to a particular soldier. You cannot send a package without a soldier's name or it will be just discarded. Another way to find a soldier is to ask friends and family if they know anyone. You will be amazed at how many people know of someone that has been deployed.
Figuring out how to send these packages was a learning experience. The first time I sent one I arrived at the post office with this big heavy box and spent something like $30 in shipping. I happened upon a really nice postal worker. He saw I was shipping to an APO in Iraq and turned me on to Flat rate shipping provided by our USPS. He told me that I could send several of the flat rate boxes for less than it would cost me to send the one big box.
When I sent him boxes on his first tour there were only two sizes available but there are now four different sizes of flat rate boxes. The two smaller boxes hold about the same amount but are made totally different. One is long and narrow and the other is short and squatty. The new larger box holds about 50% more and since I found out about it I have used it exclusively. It cost me $10.95 to ship using this box and I can make it as heavy as I want to. Normally this flat rate box cost $12.95 but the postal service gives a $2.00 discount when you ship to an APO. To be quite honest I'm not even sure what the current charge is on the smaller box as I now only use the large one. Any amount of material may be enclosed as long as the box is not modified and the contents fit inside. .
These boxes are provided to us free from our USPS and you can pick them up at most post offices prior to shipping. The only time I had trouble finding them was the Christmas season as the post office was having problems keeping them in stock. At the same time you pick the flat rate boxes up you will also want to pick up some "Customs Declaration and Dispatch Notices" and some priority mail address labels. You will need to fill out the Customs Declaration and you are going to need to put in a description of what you are sending. It says detailed but you can just write things like 6 cans of soup, 2 packages of crackers, candy, 3 cans of tuna etc. That will suffice for detailed. You will need to put in a value and I always marked treat as abandoned. You will then need to date and sign the form. You have to press hard as there are 6 copies to go through. I always filled out an address label also and put it on the box. I had a postal worker tell me to fill both out just in case the customs declaration came off.
I am sorry but there are no short cuts to standing in line. YOU CAN NOT USE THE SPEEDY CHECK OUT MACHINE. My neighbor did that the first time she sent a package to her son and it came back to her because she had not added the customs declaration page.
The soldiers love getting useful stuff. Our daughter is a flight attendant for a charter company that moves our troops and she told me that someone sent some marines off with lei's which they proceeded to give to the flight attendants. The thought was nice but I think they would have preferred something that was useful to them. I sent things like soup, tuna, crackers, summer sausage, non-perishable cheese, candy. You get the idea anything that is non-perishable. At Christmas I always sent homemade cookies and candy to our son. He isn't that crazy about sweets but he always shared them. You can be assured that if the soldier you are sending to doesn't like what you sent they will pass it on to someone that does.
So should you hear about someone that is stationed over in Iraq or Afghanistan you now know how to mail them a box of goodies using these wonderful flat rate boxes provided to us by our postal service.
Amazingly I found these packages typically got to their destination in less than a week. Whether I was sending them to Germany (as that was where our son was first stationed) or Iraq they always arrived. One time I sent the package to his old Germany APO address and the package went back to Fort Hood and then on to Iraq (it took about a month but it arrived safe and sound). About the only time I did not us the flat rate boxes was when I sent Ramon noodles or the time I sent an air mattress bed as it didn't fit.
Copyright © 2009 Marchel Peterson, All Rights Reserved. *How to send flat rate packages to our troops!!*