military-1In preparation for the Operation Gratitude fundraiser on*, I’ve been researching military care package ideas.  What do soldiers want in a care package?

The short answer to this question: it depends.  Different soldiers are in different situations, some have refrigerators and coffee makers, some don’t, and some soldiers want DVDs, but some can get them for cheap so they don’t need them. If you don’t know a soldier but you still want to contribute to sending a care package, leave it to the professionals at Operation Gratitude.

Operation Gratitude is a nonprofit, volunteer based organization that ships care packages to deployed soldiers.  The volunteers will pack up gift boxes with the right goodies and your donation will help pay for the shipping costs.  Donate to Operation Gratitude here or visit my last blog post to find other easy ways to support the troops.

If you know the person you are sending your military care package to, find out what their conditions are like and what they need. I browsed some requests from soldiers to see what items were most commonly asked for, and here are a few of those requested gifts that ships to APO/FPO addresses.

1) Cheese–  Regular cheese won’t survive the journey so check out for several cheese spreads and processed cheese options designed specifically for shipment to military recipients.  These do require refrigeration after opening so keep that in mind when choosing to send cheese.

2) Coffee–  Some soldiers have access to coffee makers.  Make sure when sending coffee you send grounds instead of whole beans.

3) DVDs -Like I mentioned before this one is mixed, but if a soldier you know is a Badger fan, he/she will get a good laugh from the Being Bucky DVD.

4) Blank Note Cards– As an Army brat (the snotty kid kind not the wurst kind), I know that being away from family is tough, so help troops communicate with their loved ones with some blank note cards.

5) Proof That America Cares- It may sound a little cheesy, but if you read the responses from the troops on the Operation Gratitude website, all of the package recipients are saying the same thing- it means so much to them to know that complete strangers are showing support.  In the thank you letters, the soldiers don’t mention the cool DVDs or yummy candy, they mention the children’s drawings and the heartfelt notes from adults.  Of course they love getting packages from family, but getting a package from a stranger lets them know they haven’t been forgotten.

Have you sent a care package to a deployed soldier? What gifts do you suggest?

Image from Operation Gratitude.

* will be hosting our annual Operation Gratitude Fundraiser from June 26 to July 5, 2012. Find details here.