We've been sending care packages to our U.S. Soldiers deployed overseas for a couple of years now. It has been a delight and a privilege I'm not sure how to put into words.
Some of these soldiers we hear from regularly and have gotten to know a bit. Some have moved onto different assignments as we hear from them only sporadically.
I wanted to share the process with you.
We joined as a volunteer with Soldiers Angels. The organization has grown so fast to now include Soldiers Angels groups for soldiers from other countries. Here is the one for Canada.
There are sub groups within Soldiers Angels to foster pets of those who are deployed, to make quilts for active duty soldiers and injured soldiers. The list of ways to volunteer is growing constantly, so please check out their website.
At this moment in time, there are 1546 soldiers who have signed up through Soldiers Angels who are waiting to be "adopted" by civilians like you and me. When Gordon and I first signed up to "adopt" a soldier, there were 30-something soldiers awaiting adoption.
This difference in the number of waiting soldiers may reflect a growing number of soldiers who are signing up with Soldiers Angels who need a caring connection to back home. Or it may reflect a diminishing concern about our troops because of the economy or because of changing attitudes in the media.
We get our approved APO Priority Boxes from the U.S. Postal Service...for free. We order them online here in groups of 25, delivered right to our PO Box. You can also pick them up (free) from your local post office. I gather if we only used a street address, we could let them be delivered to our doorstep.
There is something on the website about this one price shipping cost for this 12" x 12" x 5.5" box being less than if one shipped this same size box to a "regular" address in the states. It does not matter how heavy this box is. If it fits, it ships.
We've had some interesting requests. This box above has a big batch of cornbread. I hope it arrives still moist and crunchy. We'll find out when he receives his box. Another soldier specifically requested peanut butter because at his location, any arrival of peanut butter at the PX was sold out as soon as it arrived.
I have learned that nothing goes to waste. If one soldier does not like a particular cookie I send, he gives it to his buddies. In fact, I have gleaned that almost every care package is shared with other soldiers.
The main difficulty on our end has been having enough cookies to ship by the time Monday rolls around. The best baking time around here is on the weekends, but Unc and Gordon also love these home-made cookies.
The box that shipped out this week (in the picture above) is to a SFC who teasingly suggested my two fellers leave HIS cookies and cornbread alone this time or he would put some guards on the cooling goodies to make sure ALL of his baked goodies arrived in Iraq on schedule. *laugh*
I'm headed back to the kitchen this afternoon to bake some more cookies for the next box. Right now we are shipping to four soldiers in Iraq, Iraq, Afghanistan, and one in Colorado (headed to Afghanistan soon).
Gordon and Unc are doing their part to get me back in the kitchen mixing up more cookies this afternoon. We make it an assembly line. Gordon watches the cookies in the oven so not a single one burns, then he takes them off the trays and puts them on the cooling racks. Unc washes the cookie trays and the mixing bowls, etc. I mix up the from-scratch cookies and drop them onto trays, etc.
Gordon and Unc get to eat every broken cookie, something I blogged about here. Fun memories. Fun shared times. I hope our adopted soldiers get even a quarter of the enjoyment from these care packages as we derive from baking and packing them.
Here is one more Soldiers Angels story about a fallen soldier from Mississippi and his parents who fought hard to get his K-9 partner back to Mississippi to be adopted by their family.