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If you’ve been couponing like I have, you probably have a ton of free or super cheap hygiene products stocked up: toothpastes, deodorants, lotions, hair care products, razors, etc. And more likely than not, you probably have a lot of it in sample or travel sizes! Wouldn’t it be awesome to put some of that into the hands of people who really need it this holiday season?

Our troops on the front lines (male and female) are often asking for hygiene items as well as treats, food items, and reminders of home. In some locations they don’t always get access to goods, so when a package full of needed items comes in, it’s like Santa has come to the desert!

When our family adopts a unit during the holidays, we go through is a website where you can find postings from soldiers in all branches of the military, from all over the U.S.  Individuals volunteer to represent a unit and, on behalf of their brothers and sisters serving with them, make requests for things from home. What’s really nice about this program is that you don’t go through a middleman.  You’re never left wondering if your donations got into the hands of those in need. You get their address, and what you send is what they receive.

Items that are nice to send include:

  • Travel size items (shampoo, toothpaste, wipes, etc)
  • Razors, deodorants, lotions, and body sprays
  • Hard candies 
  • Gummies and fruit snack pouches
  • Individual cereal bars, snack bars, or mixed nuts/trail mix
  • Books and magazines
  • DVDs
  • Hats, gloves, and instant cocoa (in winter months)
  • Canned soups, instant mac and cheese, or pasta bowls
  • Letters!!
  • Small holiday decorations/items (especially before Christmas)

Tip: Tape down the lids of shampoos, gels, etc. and seal them in zip top plastic bags. You never know if they might open during shipping!

Items that are not always a good idea:

  • Chocolates (they melt in warmer months.)
  • Pork products of ANY kind (when sending to Middle East)
  • Graphic, sexual, or violent magazines/media (prohibited)
  • Home brewing supplies, or anything alcohol related
  • Tobacco products and/or lighters
  • Soda or aerosol cans (can pop during flight)
  • Glass items
  • Chemicals
  • Baked goods (they may go bad before they get there)

Just be aware that you will have to fill out a small customs form that goes on the box. Make sure to write down the inventory of the items you are packing BEFORE you seal up the box. USPS provides these for free, just ask your postal clerk. Also, it will take a few weeks, so plan ahead for holidays or the specific month you want your package to arrive. (Sending cold weather items in March will probably arrive much too late to be very useful.)

I usually go to the local Post Office for my supplies, but recently I learned that if you call them at 1-800-610-8734, select option #1 Express Mail, Priority Mail or Global Express Guaranteed products, and ask a customer service agent for a “military kit”, they’ll get a kit off to you free of charge. The kit includes boxes, tape, and custom forms. (Takes approx 4-7 days).

It does cost to ship the flat rate boxes to the soldiers, but it’s usually even cheaper than domestic flat rates, with no weight limit!

So this Holiday Season consider adopting a troop or two and sending some love from home!

This has been a guest post by Amber from St. John, AZ
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