Deployment can be a very isolating experience for a lot of people. A significant member of the family is absent, survival mode has kicked in and there isn’t always the time or energy needed for being part of a larger community. Living in a primarily civilian environment or far from a military installation can make this feeling significantly worse.
Care packages can help the feeling of isolation experienced by the service member, but what about those left at home? Well, I feel pretty strongly that sending care packages can fill that gap too.
Ways to get others involved in sending care packages
When you involve others (family, friends, members of the community, etc.) in sending care packages, there’s a bonding that takes place. A feeling of “we’re all in this together” starts to grow and that can really help throughout the rest of a deployment.
Encourage them to adopt a service member
Not every deployed service member receives care packages from home and that’s a shame! Perhaps you know of someone deployed with your loved one who could benefit from a little extra cheer. If not, consider directing friends and family to organizations like Any Soldier, Inc. to find a service member to support.
Have them contribute a letter of encouragement to your loved one’s care package
If individuals want to support YOUR loved one specifically, consider having them write a letter of encouragement or thanks to include in a future care package. This is a great budget and space-friendly way to have them contribute. Plus, it can be a huge boost for individuals who thrive on words of affirmation.
Request donations for group care packages being sent to a unit, troop, etc.
Care packages can be expensive, no matter how many cost-savings tips you take advantage of or how carefully you plan the contents. Couple this with the fact that during deployment, people genuinely want to help and care package donations seem like a great fit!
I experienced this personally when my husband asked me to send as many toiletries as possible in a care package since they’d run out where he was and there was no timeline for restocking. A quick note to a few friends and family members and I had enough toiletries to fill 4 flat rate boxes, setting him (and his co-workers) up for a much more pleasant smelling deployment.
It’s a great way for people to feel helpful, answer those frequent “just let me know how I can help” appeals and have something tangible to support service members.
Decorate or pack care packages with friends/family
This is my favorite way to get other people involved in care packages because it would be so much fun! Imagine having a party-style atmosphere to put together a care package: food, music, friends. What a nice way to add a little fun to deployment!
The best part is that you could approach this just about anyway you’d like. Whether you’re inviting close friends and family over to your home to put together boxes for your loved one or organizing a get-together for your FRG, the main idea is that you’re WITH other people.
Must-read tips to make things easier
Be specific when requesting donations
People do better with specific requests, especially if it’s for something they aren’t terribly familiar with. If you would like folks to donate toiletries, suggest that. If you’d like them to donate granola bars, say something. Otherwise, you may end up with a bunch of items that can’t be sent overseas or that you already have.
Ensure folks know the rules
If you are experienced in sending care packages, rules about what can and can’t be sent may seem like second nature to you. That may not be the case for family and friends so offering a few do’s and don’ts will be very helpful! Requesting specific items can also help alleviate any accidental rule breaking.
Respect individual budgets
This is very important! People will almost always want to help, but it may not be financially feasible. I never asked folks to donate who didn’t first express interest in doing so and always made it clear that anything they could contribute was appreciated.
For some, that was one tube of toothpaste. For others, it was the entire shampoo aisle. Both were equally valued.
Have a potluck-style approach to decorating boxes
If you’re going to get a group together to decorate care packages, consider having it be a potluck style. Rather than any one person purchasing all the supplies, each person can bring one or two items from their stash to share with the group.
This keeps budgets in check and allows you to have access to a whole new crop of care package crafting supplies!
Sending care packages as a group can be a great way to build some fun into deployment and help you feel more connected to the community around you! Will you give it a try?
Want even more care package ideas? I’m giving away 165+ ideas (plus what to put in them) here.