It’s not that hard. Or that expensive. The USPS will give you boxes and packing material. And the items most needed are common things you pass by in the supermarket….pick up a couple one week, then a couple the next week….and fill a box.

FOOD:

Snacks of any kind (individual packs soldiers can take along with them go over well)
Beef jerky
Cookies
Candy bars
Tootsie Rolls
Tootsie Pops
M & Ms
Suckers
Hard candy
Cough drops/throat lozenges
Gum**
Chocolate**
Energy bars
Snack cakes
Granola bars
Pop tarts
Hot chocolate
Powdered drink mixes – cans or individual packs
Powdered Gatorade
Coffee – small cans or individuals (filters, too)
Flavored coffees
Tea (honey, too?.)
Coffee creamer (flavored or plain)
Sugar/Sweetener (individual packs)
Ramen noodles
Tuna fish
Beef summer sausage logs (Hillshire, etc. – crackers, too)
Hearty soups
Easy Mac
Cup O’Noodles
Cup O’Soup
Instant Oatmeal
Condiments (those small pks. are great, especially hot sauce for some reason)
GU – single serve energy food/gel (sporting goods stores)
Emergen-C – energy supplement, water soluble (health food store, Costco, major grocery stores)
Pumpkin/squash baby food in jar – high energy on the go (from a soldier on his way back to Iraq)

Most of our troops have refrigerators and microwaves available, but no other cooking capabilities. If you send food that needs a fork or spoon to eat, include some disposables, food in a can – include a handheld can opener, coffee – send filters, drink mixes – something to make them in. *You get the idea.

(**NOTE: *Chocolate should only be sent between mid-November and mid-March because of the heat. Stick gums can have the same heat problems, but Chiclets travel well all year long)

HYGIENE/TOILETRIES:
Soap
Bodywash
Shampoo & conditioner
Anti-frizz products
Lotion
Hand cream
Chapstick
Cotton swabs
Deodorant
Tooth paste
Toothbrush (in sealed packaging)
Dental floss
Mouthwash
Breath strips** (see note about chocolate above)
Petroleum jelly
Shaving cream (men & women’s – no aerosol cans)
Shaving razors (men and women’s, refills if needed)
Tampons, napkins
Panty liners
Baby powder
Heat rash products
Foot powder
Athlete’s foot products
Artificial tears
Tissues (boxes & individual packs)
Flip-flops/shower shoes
Wash cloth
Towel
Baby wipes (big time request)
Hand sanitizer
Nail clippers
Toenail clippers
Nail files
Emery boards
Clear nail polish
Brown/black hair ties
Eyeglass repair kits & cleaning cloths

DRY GOODS:
Socks — (From a returning female soldier: *Black tube socks (mid-calf) 100% cotton. *Packages with mixed sizes are great because soldiers love to hand off what doesn’t fit them. *White athletic socks for PT and sometimes under boot socks. )
T-shirts — (brown/tan for Army & Navy – like the digital camo colors, green for Marines, black/brown for Air Force)
Mechanic’s gloves (per Iraq vets these are what soldiers want regardless of their job – Mechanix brand if possible but all welcome)
Beanie caps for under helmets – must be dark
Bandanas – same color restrictions (really appreciated when you’re braving sand-storms)
Shoe insole replacements (in foot care section of store – highly prized)
Batteries – AA, AAA, C & D
Blank CDs
Febreeze
Scented candles (you cannot send matches per USPS regs)
Anti-bacterial wipes
Zip-locs – all sizes
Microwavable bowls
Digital cameras (recyle your old one)
MP3 players (ditto)
Thumb drives
Holiday decorations
Decorating items (Any comfort items to make living spaces better and remind soldiers of home.)

WRITING SUPPLIES:
Pens
Envelopes – safety, letter sized
Writing pad
Pocket-sized notebook
Cards for next holiday (need to arrive 3 weeks beforehand)
Generic assortment of cards (birthday, anniversary, blank, etc.can get boxes of them at Walgreens or other discount stores)
Blank journals

ENTERTAINMENT / OTHER:

Phone Cards (Military Exchanges are DoD authorized and give you the best deal for the money)
Drawing pads / notebooks
Colored pencils w/sharpener
Colored markers
Regular pencils w/sharpener
Erasers
Cards
Puzzles (500 piece at least)
Books (no romance novels per anysoldier.com)
CDs
DVDs (comedy, action, drama, documentary, cartoons, old TV series)
Magazines
Local newspapers
Crossword books
Jumble books
Backgammon
Chess
Yahtze
Dominoes
Footballs
Soccer balls
Baseballs w/gloves (Gloves don’t have to be new – recycled is fine.)
Small toys or games they can give to Iraqi/Afghani children

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