Search This Blog

Brian Luke Community Blogger, WGRZ-TV

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Family Matters Blog: Blogger Shares Secrets for Creating Exceptional Care Packages

By Elaine Wilson
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Dec. 27, 2010 - I'm pleased to introduce a new Family Matters guest blogger, Megan Just, a Navy veteran and the editor of the weekly newspaper at March Air Reserve Base in Riverside, Calif.

Click photo for screen-resolution image
Navy Lt. Megan Field, now Megan Just, works on a project in her trailer at Camp Victory, Iraq, Sept. 27, 2007. Surrounding her are items from care packages her friends and family members sent. The comforter and curtains were from her mother. The large photographs are prints from a friend who is a professional photographer. The flower paintings are by her grandmother. Even the mouse pad and the novel were products of care packages from her brother and best friend.

(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.
As both the sender of less-than-ideal care packages and the receiver of awesome ones, Megan discusses the importance of care packages to deployed servicemembers and the elements that distinguish an outstanding care package from a run-of-the-mill one.  By Megan Just
One of my most vivid memories of my deployment to Iraq is the adrenaline rush of receiving care packages. The arrival of a care package could instantly turn a bad day into a euphoric one.   Receiving care packages was so important to me that I often wrote about them in my diary.
At the beginning of the deployment I wrote, "I received Eric's (my boyfriend) package today and I've been waiting all night to open it. I've been so looking forward to it that I don't want the anticipation to be over."
The next day, after opening his package, I wrote, "Eric's box was great. He sent my favorite fig sugarless cookies (which I am finishing as I write), a bunch of Cliff Bars and a variety of dried fruit. He also sent two issues of 'National Geographic' and 'Climbing.'"
In that care package, Eric had also enclosed a small book he made that contained his favorite quotes, photos of us together and a long letter. My reaction to the book tugged at my heartstrings enough to nauseate you, so I'll pass on sharing that section of my diary here, but I can assure you, the book meant a lot more than the fig cookies and it is still a treasured item today.
Toward the end of deployment, even as the recipient of an estimated 50 care packages, I was still raving about them. "I love getting care packages," I wrote. "It is hands-on proof that somebody loves me. Opening them is like being a kid on Christmas morning. Each package contains a surprise and what is inside is additionally valuable because the contents are things that I can't procure myself." 
While all care packages are great to receive, I did notice a difference in the emotional impact of a run-of-the-mill care package versus one where the sender put a lot of thought into selecting the contents and packaging them in a creative manner. 
A run-of-the-mill care package contains generic items and things servicemembers can easily buy themselves at the Exchange on base or order online. A run-of-the-mill care package is one that might as well have been packed by one of the many web-based care package companies. See, the preparation of an exceptional care package cannot be outsourced. The preparation and thought that goes into a care package is half of its value and the servicemember can perceive this extra effort.
Now, I must confess that buried in my past is a string of these generic care packages. Back then, I was dating a servicemember who was deployed to Iraq and although I am a procrastinator by nature, I was determined to send him care packages at regular intervals and I was determined to do it in an efficient manner.
From the post office, I gathered an armload of identical Priority Mail boxes and customs forms.  At Costco, I stocked up on a variety of jumbo packs of single-serve snack items like trail mix, crackers, beef jerky and sunflower seeds. Once a month, like clockwork, I tossed a handful of each type of snack item into a Priority Mail box and, voila! I had a care package!   I think I added a note to each box before taping it up, but I couldn't be sure. (FYI: Not including a note -- even if it's just a sentence -- is the cardinal sin of care package preparations.)
I sent this string of care packages before I'd been deployed myself. The care packages I send to friends now are different.  They are smaller, for one, and I think about details like picking a nice card for my note so the servicemember can use it to decorate their trailer. I sent a small box of gourmet chocolates to a friend around Valentine's Day one year and now, when I bake batches of cookies to send, I pay close attention to the packaging so the cookies don't turn into a plastic bag of crumbs by the time they arrive overseas.
While I'm on the topic of baked goods, it's important to mention that one of the greatest joys of a care package is being able to share homemade treats with the members of your unit and your trailermate. Keep this in mind if you send baked goods to servicemembers and send enough so the servicemember can share without jeopardizing his or her own stash of treats.  Help them out by packing a large container for sharing and a smaller container for hoarding.
In some cases, however, the servicemember may be watching his or her weight and you shouldn't send them a double batch of Aunt Hermonie's Triple-Fudge Buttery Delights. Depending on the servicemember's level of self control, you might consider sending a single serving of the baked good: enough so they can enjoy the special treat, but not enough to throw their diet off course.      
What I found especially touching as a deployed servicemember was when I would receive a care package from someone unexpected, like the parents of a close friend, a distant cousin or a co-worker who I didn't know very well. Recently, a friend of mine sent a care package of gag gifts to the goofy husband of one of our mutual friends who is deployed on a Navy ship. 
Family members back home can facilitate this process by making a list of the types of things the servicemember would like to receive and circulating the list with the servicemember's mailing address. Also include an approximate date range –- so you don't violate operations security -- so senders can spread packages through the entirety of the deployment.
If you have the time and desire, savor the process of preparing the care package. While you're packing, think about the servicemember who is absent. Tuck a family photo into the spine of a book. Wrap a brightly colored ribbon around a fancy chocolate bar. Have the kids make crafts. Go to an imports store and pick up a food item that you enjoyed together during your honeymoon in Paris. Make a good, old-fashioned mix CD. Clean a few seashells from your summer vacation and nestle them inside the package of undershirts your servicemember requested. In the end, you're not shipping goods. You're showing that you care.
The following are some care package items I found especially awesome while I was deployed:
-- A stack of 11x17 landscape prints from a friend who is a professional photographer.
-- A peppy comforter and matching curtains sewn to fit the dimensions of my trailer window.  Also, a new sheet set and a foam mattress pad to make my bed more comfortable. 
-- A mini-rice maker and a bag of rice helped me stay healthy by enabling me to skip occasional meals at the all-you-can-eat dining hall. Just-add-boiling-water meals were nice, too.
-- Good books friends and family members back in the States had recently read. I discovered several great books by authors that I might not have otherwise picked up and it gave me something interesting to discuss in letters and e-mails. 
-- Ground coffee from my favorite coffee roaster in San Diego. 
-- Fashion magazines and current newspapers from back home.
-- Watercolor paints.
-- Fancy shampoos, lotions and soaps.
-- Tape and scissors.
-- Decorations for the holidays, including the minor holidays, like a small pumpkin for Halloween.
-- Blank cards for sending thank you notes.
And here are some questions for you:
What have been some of your favorite items you've sent or received in a care package?
What are your strategies for sending thoughtful care packages ... efficiently?
Donations to

No comments:


NETC LRC News and Information


Technology Headlines

The TSA Blog


White Video Feed

NYSDOT Recent Press Releases

Indian Point Press Releases

Indian Point Nuclear Power Plant EAS Messages

Indian Point Nuclear Power Plant

New York State-Wide RSS

Department of Homeland Security News

Department of Homeland Security Podcasts

Erie County RSS Feed

Erie County Emergency Management

The Weather Channel: Your Local Weather Outlook--Niagara Falls, NY (14304)

FEMA: New York Federal Disaster Declarations

Niagara County RSS Feed

National Weather Service

Albany County RSS Feed

Allegany County RSS Feed

Bronx County RSS Feed

Broome County RSS Feed

Cattaraugus County RSS Feed

Chemung County RSS Feed

Cayuga County RSS Feed

Ontario County RSS Feed

Warren County RSS Feed

City of Toronto News Releases

US Consumer Product Safety Commission - Recent Recalls and Product Safety News

Center for Missing & Exploited Children: NY Missing

Lead Photos - U.S. Dept. of Defense Alert - Maritime - Gulf of Mexico Oil Spill

Contract - U.S. Dept. of Defense

Speech - U.S. Dept. of Defense

Transcript - U.S. Dept. of Defense

The Grill Sergeants

FBI Extra

NASA Breaking News

NASA Ames Research Center News and Features

NASACast Video

USGS Earthquake ShakeMaps

City of Toronto news releases, Emergency Medical Services

City of Toronto news releases, Fire Services



City of Toronto news releases, Fire Services

Visitor Snapshot

Royalty Free News Music Reviews

Automobile RSS Feed

Speed and Accuracy Statement

The information you find here is in the form of raw data, usually delivered via RSS feeds. The information is delivered via website in the most rapid manner possible. Usually this is the manner of delivery of information to media. Therefore, this service gets the audience information to the public more rapidly then any media outlet that has to re-write the information for their email club or SMS feeds.

In some cases, cases, from time to time, updates and correctons are offered by the authors of this information, is not responisble for the content of RSS feeds, press releases, or any other content. The content of the information presented is the responsiblity of the producer of the content.

There are many reasons for presenting the information as the page does. The public really never has had a view of the raw data before now. Most cases we see news packaged, polished and prioritized. This blog network offers a wide audience a variety of news, some of it is produced by Motioncenter and some by the government or other sources.

Read what you like, ignore what doesn't interest you, but at least Motioncenter doesn;t tell you what the news is, you choose.

Material Connection Disclosure

You should assume that the owner of this website has an affiliate relationship and/or another material connection to the providers of goods and services mentioned on this site and may be compensated when you purchase from a provider. You should always perform due diligence before buying goods or services from anyone via the internet or offline. THIS IS A BLOG. A NON-COMMERCIAL WEBPAGE At no time does commerce transact on this site. If it had then it would require a Secure Sockets Layer certificate and a merchant account. Being a non-commercial site there are some licensing privledges that this site will participate in. Mystuffnow is an online radio station broadcasting twenty four hours daily. This station can be bet described as a hybrid format of adult contemporary, international and ad popular music. In a sense it may, be compared to compared random radio format, but mystuffnow has three dedicated day parts. These day parts include a morning, evening and overnight separate music selection. The morning and afternoon have a selection of classic rock and current hot hits. To make the station more unique a new track, or tracks from the overnight day part have been added to make the station stand out from traditional stations that broadcast locally. The overnight day part is called “After Hours” and mimics the general principals of a quiet storm programming style where as there are fewer commercials and the music is more adult in nature, not just in lyrics but the music is more unique, offering international and slower tracks. This is meant for relaxation or whatever you may be doing in the late night hours. This station is run by computerized traffic software. At any moment a live deejay can broadcast and a morning show or news programming is possible, all playlists are run automatically. One positive of this is the fact that the software ensures that all artists get paid their royalties and this station avoids any fines for digital media issues. Update: Mystuffnow is currently off the air.

No Endorsement Statement

No endorsement is implied nor should it be inferred. No government agency, or organization has endorsed Motioncenter.Info. is a media organization with a mission of offering unbiased information as it becomes available, without any form of bias.

Privacy Policy

This is a website run by Group Speeddog Results Marketing, L.L.C... We take our readers privacy very seriously. Promotions through Third Party Merchants While this site is not endorsed or owned by any of the third party merchants appearing on this site, this site may at times receive various types of compensation when a viewer makes a purchase or clicks on a link appearing on this site. This site is not responsible for any claims or warranties associated with any third-party merchant link or website. This site does not directly collect any information regarding its viewers without your prior knowledge and permission; nor does it share their information with third-party vendors or merchants . It is not now, nor ever will be, our practice to sell your information to any third-party under any circumstance. We use third-party advertising companies to serve ads when you visit our website. These companies may use information (not including your name, address, email address, or telephone number) about your visits to this and other websites in order to provide advertisements about goods and services of interest to you. Google Advertising Cookie and Privacy Policies What is the DoubleClick DART cookie? The DoubleClick DART cookie is used by Google in the ads served on the websites of its partners, such as websites displaying AdSense ads or participating in Google certified ad networks. When users visit a partner’s website and either view or click on an ad, a cookie may be dropped on that end user’s browser. The data gathered from these cookies will be used to help better serve and manage ads on the publisher’s site(s) and across the web. *Google, as a third party vendor, uses cookies to serve ads on your site. *Google’s use of the DART cookie enables it and its partners to serve ads to your users based on their visit to your sites and/or other sites on the Internet. *Users may opt out of the use of the DART cookie by visiting the Google ad and content network privacy policy.