Sunday, February 26, 2012

Care Package 101: FAQ

Q1. I don't have a family member currently deployed; can I seen a package to "Any Service Member"?

A1. No. All packages and letters must be addressed to individuals with their full name. Odds are if you ask around your circle of friends, family and coworkers, though, you will find someone who knows a service member who would love to receive some care package love from you. Also, there are organizations, like Soldier's Angels who can help you find a willing recipient.

Q2. Do I need extra postage to send letters and cards to a soldier overseas?

A2. Sending letters and cards to an APO or FPO address requires the same postage as letters sent within the United States.

Q3. Do packages going to oversea bases need customs forms?

A3. Yes. Packages sent to APO and FPO addresses require customs forms to be completed. You can fill in the custom form online at the USPS web site, but I find it easier to fill the paper form. The paper forms can be picked up for free from you local post office. The degree of detail needed on the customs forms is often subject to the postal worker who is accepting your package, but I have found it to be better to list things in their general categories than to be too specific. A friend listed "after shave" on her form rather than "toiletries" on a package to her husband, and it was sent back because it may have contained "alcohol." The Post Office has a Military Package Kit that includes some boxes, labels, tape and custom forms delivered to you for free. You can get it by calling 1-800-610-8734.

Q4. Are there things that can't be sent in care packages?

A4. Yes. The Post Office has a list of hazardous items that it will not allow shipped. In addition, depending on the location where you are sending your care packages other restrictions may apply. For example products containing pork, alcohol and pornographic or even "Sports Illustrated's Swimsuit Issue" are not allowed in Muslim countries. Checking with the Unit's Command or FRG is advisable if you have any doubts over whether certain items are acceptable.

Q5. Is there a limit on how many care packages I can send?

A5. Often times, service members do not have limited room to store things, so spaces is at a premium. As a general rule I send bigger items when specifically requested, and the bulk of the packages are filled with consumable products. Even if your service member has had his fill of cookies they are always able to share with their buddies. Same goes for toiletries, books, DVDs, etc.