How to prepare a care package for single service members
Sometimes, sending one care package just isn’t enough. During my husband’s recent deployment, I sent him a steady stream of care packages so he always had fresh supplies of his favorite snacks, toiletries, or anything else he needed. I made sure to time them for holidays so that he had something to open and celebrate, even though he couldn’t be home with us. He looked forward to our care packages and appreciated them, even if they weren’t decorated and contained mostly boring things like Ramen noodles.
As we progressed through the deployment, I heard him talk often about some of the younger guys who worked with him in the same shop. He said he sometimes shared his snacks with them because they were drooling over his care packages. “That’s nice of you,” I told my husband. “But what’s wrong with their care packages? Aren’t they getting any snacks?”
He told me, “No. They haven’t gotten any mail or packages the entire deployment so far. They aren’t married, so no one sends them anything. There’s usually no care package for single guys.”
That broke my heart. Care packages are great, but typically the only ones sending them are wives and girlfriends. What about all the young, single guys (and gals) who are also deployed? They need some love, too!
I made up my mind right then to rectify the situation and send some packages specifically for the younger guys in my husband’s shop. I already knew the address (the same as my husband’s) so I just had to change the name on the address label and update it with their rank.
The only problem–I had never met these guys, and I had no idea what interests, hobbies, or favorite foods they might have. So I included similar things to what my husband always requested–snacks, card games, laundry detergent, and magazines. I also threw in some seasonal candy and dollar store gifts.
THEY LOVED IT. Not only were these guys excited to get their own care packages for once, but they were delighted with the stuff inside. The feedback came back via my husband: “Wow, Mama Lightfoot really knows how to send a care package!”
Well thank you. After my husband’s 7 deployments overseas, I have had just a littttle experience with sending care packages! So when you are preparing a package to send your service member for a special holiday, consider sending two. You can address both to your service member, but include a note that one is meant to be distributed to the single service members. He will know who needs it most or how to distribute it. When preparing a care package, keep in mind these important care package lessons.
What to put in a care package for single soldiers/sailors/Marines/airmen?
So what do you put in a care package for single service members you don’t even know? There are some things that are popular and needed by just about everyone on a deployment! Read on for ideas:
Toiletries: Laundry detergent, Razors, Soap, Shampoo, Foot Powder, Toothbrush and Toothpaste, Q-tips, Deodorant, travel size anything, Baby Wipes
Entertainment: Batteries, Playing Cards, Dice, Small Games, Magazines (fitness, cars, hunting, or comics are generally popular), Phone Cards
Snacks: Beef Jerky, Chips, (in tubes like Pringles, not in bags that will explode!), any Candy, Gum, Protein Bars, Granola Bars, Snack Packages, Crackers, Tuna-to-go Meal Kits, Pop Tarts, Packaged Cookies, Rice Krispies, Cereal in small boxes, Ramen Noodle cups, Oatmeal cups, Fruit Snacks, Fruit Roll-ups, Dried Fruit, Nuts, Trail Mix
Flavor: Water additives like Mio drops or Gatorade powder, Tabasco, Hot Sauce, Ranch or Mustard packets
Medicine: Tylenol, Cough Drops, PeptoBismol, DayQuil, Band-Aids, Vitamins
Clothes: Socks (brown), T-shirts (get the right color for your branch!), Laundry Detergent pods if on ship
Comfort: Hand warmers, Blankets, Hand Lotion, Chapstick, Sunscreen, Bug Spray, Air Fresheners
Homemade: Cards, Cake or Brownies (baked in sanitized Mason jars), Seasonal Holiday decorations
Any of these items would be welcome to almost any deployed service member. So if a friend or family member is asking you what they can send, tag them on this list! If a school or church wants to donate care package boxes, send them this list! If you don’t have time to purchase or prepare an extra care package, consider ordering a pre-made care package from Troopster. They have a variety of themes and selections, and will send some to troops overseas who are not receiving mail. If you’re worried about what not to include in a care package, read more care package tips here.
There are care package planning ideas and guidelines in my Deployment Masterclass. Click here to learn more about deployment support and resources.
This is all very valuable information, especially to someone like me who is new to the military Mom life. My son is only 17, soon to be 18, so I still strongly feel that need to provide and protect. One piece of information that haven’t come across is what is the best provider or method of providing cell phone service. He will be stationed overseas for at least 6 months once all of this training is over, and we currently have ATT cell service. From what I’ve been told, ATT is not the best cell carrier outside our region/state of Louisiana. Any information will be much appreciated and considered. I need something that provides good international service also.
Hi Stefanie, glad this helps! The cell service really depends on the overseas location and what kind of job he has. Many people discontinue cell service (he can get it suspended for free with military orders) and just use apps like WhatsApp, FB Messenger, etc on the base wi-fi. He could also purchase a wi-fi puck to guarantee access.
If he needs cell service, shop around the different carriers and ask them specifically about the countries he will be in. Some have “overseas plans” that don’t include deployment locations. And be sure to ask about military discounts, because each carrier has a military friendly plan.
I don’t have any current family members in the military, but my brother recently retired after 8 years. Can I still send care packages to deployed soldiers, and if so how do I send them? I would love to create some care packages to send but I’m not sure how to get them to any members.
Hi Sarah, that’s a great idea! You would need a specific deployment address. So it you don’t know anyone currently deployed, you could go through an organization like Troopster.org that donates care packages to deployed service members.