Archive for Care Packages

YesVideo Video Conversion Giveaway for Military Families

When my husband was deployed, more than any supplies or even homemade goodies, he wanted messages from his family…photographs, videos, video-chats, recordings–seeing and hearing his loved ones. That connection to home is what helps soldiers keep going, during the most difficult conditions.

If you have vintage audio-visual material on almost any format, you can convert that into a special DVD and online digital video for your soldier. Here is a special sponsored message about how you can win a $300 gift certificate to turn your old family videos and other media into DVDs:

Military Families Can Share Favorite Vintage Videos with their Loved Ones Abroad, Thanks to YesVideo’s Holiday Gifting Program

YesVideo is dedicated to bringing joy to military personnel serving abroad through re-living favorite family memories

Santa Clara, CA – January 3, 2012 – YesVideo, the global leader in video and photo digitization, is announcing their Holiday Gifting Program for U.S. Military Families. In January, YesVideo will give away five $300 gift certificates to Military Families. The gift certificates can be used to have their family videos transferred to DVD, as well as online, and materials will be delivered to the winners by Valentine’s Day, February 14, 2013.

The contest is open to any U.S. military family who has a loved one serving abroad. Interested families can sign up on YesVideo’s Facebook page.

YesVideo can digitize the following forms of vintage media:

· 8mm film

· 16mm film

· Super8 film

· VHS

· Beta (NTSC)

· VHS-C

· MiniDV

· Photo Prints

· Photo Negatives

· Photo Slides

One $300 gift certificate will cover about 15 videotapes . Once YesVideo receives the footage, the company will transfer it to DVD and store the video in YesVideo’s free, unlimited cloud storage system. Since YesVideo uploads customers’ videos into personal, password-protected accounts, military personnel serving all over the world will be able to view their favorite home movies in time for Valentine’s Day. Links to the videos can be sent via email or shared on Facebook.

“We are incredily grateful to our military for their service to our country, and we want to say thank you to them by delivering special memories to them,” says Michael Chang, CEO of YesVideo. “We recognize that they are not home with their families to celebrate the holidays, and we want to give them the next-best thing – videos of their loved ones.”

The short entry form is located on YesVideo’s Facebook page. The contest will close January 10 at 12:00 midnight PST, and winners will be notified within one week. All media materials must be received at YesVideo by January31 in order to be processed and returned by February 14. Final deadline for winners to submit their videos is January 31, 2013.

To enter the contest, please visit http://www.facebook.com/yesvideo/app_201730886505500

About YesVideo

YesVideo is the global leader in video transferring and sharing. The company’s patented technology allows them to efficiently transfer personal videos at scale. Customers may then view, edit and share their videos in the cloud. YesVideo has unlocked billions of classic family video moments and life events for seven million customers already.

Consumers may drop off their personal film (8mm, 16mm, VHS, Beta, etc), prints, slides and photo albums at one of YesVideo’s 34,000 retail locations, or online at YesVideo.com. All material received by YesVideo go through either the East Coast production facility, located in Norcross, GA or the West Coast production facility, located in Santa Clara, CA.

Deployment Care Package Ideas

Here are some great care package ideas from a fabulous reader, and Facebook fan, Heather E. Sosa:


Involve the Kids

If you have kids, you could have them trace each of their hands on the outside of each of the care package and write their names inside with the date so your soldier can watch them grow every time s/he gets a box. Or you could do the same on a piece of cardstock paper so s/he can collect them throughout the year. Let your kids color their hands with crayons or markers.

New Year’s Care Package Idea

Decorate a box with confetti inside, use glue on the inside of the box and sprinkle glitter, confetti, and ribbons.

Inside: Some party whistles, streamers, horns, Plastic champagne glasses, Sparkling cider (if you package it well, cover with bubble wrap and put inside a plastic bag in case it breaks during shipping), vacuum packaged cheese and crackers, or chips, a cigar, some glow sticks or LED light necklaces.

Valentine’s Day Care Package Idea

Decorate the inside of the box with red or pink paper, glitter, streamers. You could make lipstick kisses on the outside of the box, but just make sure not to use a glossy type of lip shine or lipstick, so it won’t get smeared through postage handling.

Inside: Write a personalized poem just for your soldier. Add an assortment of chocolates, candy hearts, and pictures of you and your kids. You can send a small stuffed animal (remember s/he has to travel home with things you send, so try to keep it to a minimum). A white pillow with a picture of you and/or the kids ironed on so he can sleep with you all every night. If you add perfume to anything, put it in a zip lock baggie to preserve the smell. Make a list of things you love about your soldier. I sent my husband a pair of black boxer shorts with red hearts all over them and I made him my own pairs of underwear. I bought a plain white undies and a pair of white boxer briefs and decorated them myself with glitter glue pens and sent those. I wrote “Property of Mrs. Sosa” on his undies, and “Property of Mr. Sosa” on my undies. I also drew a padlock with glitter. Sorry if that sounds corny. Haha.

Saint Patrick’s Day Care Package Idea:

Decorate the inside of the box with green paper, glitter, etc. Draw shamrocks on the outside of the box.

Inside: Fill with anything and everything green. Green beaded necklaces, (non alcoholic beer if you package well like the champagne bottle above). Confetti poppers, any green candy you can find, one of those plastic St. Patty’s day hats or those shamrock shaped sunglasses.

[I once included mini bars of “Irish Spring” –ed.]

Easter:

Decorate the inside of the box with pastel colors and fill with Easter grass.

Inside: Send your soldier a box full of plastic eggs with candies or special gifts inside, including pictures, notes, and toys. A small stuffed bunny plush that sings a song. And any of their favorite Easter candies, like marshmallow peeps, or jelly beans.

Memorial Day and Mother’s Day:

Decorate the inside of the box with American flags and flowers (drawn on the inside to save money).

Inside: Fill with different pictures of you and/or your kids. Take pictures of your mommy/daddy duties and activities with the kids. Maybe send a list of all the things he gets to do FOR YOU when he gets back since he missed Mother’s Day. You could include Tea bags, and snacks.

Father’s Day:

Have a T-Shirt designed/made with a picture of the kids on the front and back and have it say “World’s Greatest Dad” or “#1 Dad” or whatever you’d like it to say. Include a list of the things you will do FOR HIM when he gets back. Send him his favorite snacks, more pictures, maybe something memorable like a gift with “1st Father’s Day” on it. I’m sure you can get something engraved for him.

Independence Day:

Decorate the inside of the box red, white and blue, with confetti, streamers, etc. (I like those balloon weights with the shiny stuff sticking up…)

Inside: Send him red, white and blue candies, like AIR HEADS (if they still have those around) Red/white/blue beaded necklaces, Send some popcorn packets and cigar, and party poppers, glow sticks, LED lighted necklaces again. Include you and/or your kids dressed in red/white/blue clothes and edit on Photoshop with a Happy 4th of July border.

Halloween:

Decorate the inside of the box orange, black, and purple.

Inside: Fill with cotton spider webs, and plastic spiders, rats, and skeletons. Include candies, suckers, (I sent my husband a small pumpkin that I drew a face carving with permanent marker). Color scary ghosts, pumpkins, haunted house, etc on the outside of the box. Include pictures of you and/or your kids in their Halloween costumes (if they don’t have them yet, since you’ll be sending this box before Halloween to make sure it gets there on time, include pictures of them from last year’s costumes).

Thanksgiving:

Have your kids trace their hand on brown construction paper and let them glue orange and yellow feathers on the fingers to make turkeys. Send him those prepackages summer sausages, cheese and crackers. Peanuts, cashews, popcorn, or peanut brittle. You could also send him some Turkey Vienna sausages in a can. More sparkling cider if it’s packaged well. A list of all the things you are thankful for. A Thanksgiving/Fall smelling candle for a scent of “home”. You could throw a few Fall leaves from where you live, in the box to give him a piece of home too.

Christmas (MY FAVORITE):

Send a small Christmas tree (you can find small decoration types at Walmart or a local Craft Store). Send mini shatter-proof ornaments and garland. Wrap small presents in small gift boxes to give him a miniature Christmas where he is. I got my a Christmas ornament that said “Our First Christmas 2008”, they have new ones every year. Send pictures of you and/or the kids. Pictures of his family maybe holding banners or posters saying Merry Christmas We Miss You on it. You could line the box with cotton to look like snow underneath everything. You could include Hot chocolate or hot apple cider packets in a small Christmas stocking.

If you have kids, you could have them trace each of their hands on the outside of each of the boxes and write their names inside and the date so he can watch them grow every time he gets a box. Or you could do the same on a piece of cardstock paper so he can collect them throughout the year. Let your kids color their hands with crayons or markers.

I also made Fortune Cookies at home and made my own fortunes inside. It was really somewhat tricky to make them because you have to mold them after cooking them, but when they are still soft you put the fortune inside and fold it before it hardens. Basically making one at a time.

Some of the things I sent to my husband on a regular basis, included:

  • Cheetos
  • Pringles
  • Bags of Chips
  • Sour Patch Kids
  • Vienna Sausages
  • Non-Frozen Microwaveable Dinners
  • Popcorn packets
  • Top Ramen Noodles
  • Yahoo! Chocolate Milk Boxes
  • Sodas/Energy Drinks (Packaged well)
  • Powdered Water Flavoring (like gatorade, crystal light, koolaids)
  • Chocolate Puddings
  • Candy Necklaces/Bracelets
  • Gum/Mints
  • Easy Mac-n-Cheese packets
  • Beef Jerkey
  • Granola Bars
  • Energy/Protein Bars
  • Any kinds of candy that won’t melt

Birthday:

For my husband’s Birthday, I made him a picture of my body spelling out HAPPY BIRTHDAY.

In every box I would send a different colored balloon. Blow up a balloon and hold the air in with your fingers, then use a permanent marker and write him a letter on the balloon. Then deflate and put it in the box. Tell him he has to blow up the balloon to read the letter.

You can make him a care package for his birthday, including balloons and confetti, party hats for him and his friends, party poppers, and whichever gift you’d like to give him wrapped like a real present.

As for non food items, depending on what he has access to, you can send:

  • Deck of cards
  • small board games or hand held electronic games
  • Word search of crossword puzzle books
  • Anything related to his favorite sports teams (I sent my husband a small nerf basketball hoop for his wall in his choo)
  • Air Fresheners
  • Photo albums
  • Disposable cameras for him to take pictures and send back for you to develop and be surprised
  • Socks
  • Razor Heads
  • Underwear
  • His favorite soap


Heather E. Sosa has been an Army wife since May of 2008 and is now an Army veteran herself. With her husband Joel, she has a daughter named Emmalynn who will be 1, in July of 2011.

(Photo by Mark Abueg)

Free Shipping to Send Valentine's Love to an Overseas Soldier

Let an overseas serviceperson know you care on Valentine’s Day. Bring in a Valentine to a participating The UPS Store location, and we’ll pay for the first-class postage. It’s one small way we can show our appreciation.

Many of The UPS Store locations have Sunday hours. Last day to ship is Monday, January 31st!


Disclaimer: On NaturallyEducational.com, I am a paid The UPS Store Lovin’ Logistics ambassador. I am not being paid to share this with you on Army Wives’ Lives–I just think it is neat!

Donate Halloween Candy to the Troops!

Donate Candy to Soldiers Troops

Rather than letting your excess Halloween Candy go to your hips, send it to the troops.  If you have young kids or you did not get as many trick-or-treaters as you hoped, you may have a lot of candy hanging around.

Found via Cool Mom Picks (via Fairly Odd Mother), these military support groups will accept your candy for care packages for our troops:

They also have some great children’s charities listed if you’d prefer to drop off your remaining candy locally.

Some local dentists are also hosting candy “buy back” programs, giving out stickers, toothbrushes, and even sometimes cash for the candy and then taking the boxes of sweets and donating them for you.

Valentine’s Love for Veterans, Soldiers, Military

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valentinesShow our troops (and vets) some love on Valentine’s Day!

Veterans

To send Valentines to Veterans, you can locate a facility through the VA Home Page. This is a great project to do with kids! If you have a facility nearby, you can call and ask if you can deliver them in person. And I also found this site for sending Valentines to Canadian Veterans.

Stars and Stripes Valentines

The deadline for printed Valentines in Stars and Stripes is January 26; if you miss it, you can still get in the online Valentine’s section. I sent one a few years ago for the print version for DH and he loved it.

Care Packages

When my husband was deployed, I sent him a picnic in a box. What have you sent/are sending? Share your tips!!!

Nestle has some Tips for Sending Baked Goods. Others suggest adding a slice of bread to absorb excess moisture and wrapping in tin foil. I’ve also heard that Pringles containers make for good packaging. I found a food sealer was awesome for cookies, but squished the brownies too much.

Agencies and Organizations

Soldier’s Angels and Any Soldier can match you with a soldier. Businesses, groups, and schools may want to consider Adopting a Platoon.

USO Operation Care Package enables you to make a donation–they pack and ship for you and you can still send a personal message with your package.

Please add some other ways to show our troops some Valentine’s love!

Photo Credit: Valentine’s Day

Valentine’s Day Love for Soldiers, Veterans, and Other Warriors

Veterans

To send Valentines to Veterans, you can locate a facility through the VA Home Page. This is a great project to do with kids! If you have a facility nearby, you can call and ask if you can deliver them in person.

Stars and Stripes Valentines

The deadline (late January) for printed Valentines in Stars and Stripes has passed, but you can still get in the online Valentine’s section. I sent one two years ago for the print version for DH and he loved it.

Care Packages

Here’s the care package I sent my soldier while he was deployed during Valentine’s Day. What have you sent/are sending? Share your tips!!!

Nestle has some Tips for Sending Baked Goods. Others suggest adding a slice of bread to absorb excess moisture and wrapping in tin foil. I’ve also heard that Pringles containers make for good packaging. I found a food sealer was awesome for cookies, but squished the brownies too much.

Agencies and Organizations

Soldier’s Angels and Any Soldier can match you with a soldier. Businesses, groups, and schools may want to consider Adopting a Platoon.

USO Operation Care Package enables you to make a donation–they pack and ship for you and you can still send a personal message with your package.

Please add some other ways to show our troops some Valentine’s love that we can either do this year or put on our calendar for next year!

St. Patrick’s Day Care Package

Since the platoon, minus DH, came home for Valentine’s Day, I sent them a St. Patrick’s Care Package.

There is not much around here. I guess the Irish did not make it this far inland.

I baked some cookies. I tried to make shamrocks, but I put them too close together and did not make them thick enough. Since I figured they still tasted fine, I included them. I added some chocolate chips and some M&M cookies. I vacuum sealed individual packs of these three types for each of the soldiers and then vacuum sealed some extras to pass around.

At Hobby Lobby I picked up shamrock gift bags and stuffed these with the cookies, a shamrock pencil, and a sample sized Irish Spring. Predictably, DH said the guys asked if I thought they smelled. The St. Paddy’s connection was too cute to pass up, though, and…well…they probably could use the soap. I mean, I know I would stink in their circumstances and we all know women always smell like rose gardens, baby powder, and banana bread. 😉

I would have loved to have found some individual servings of Lucky Charms and maybe a four leaf clover key chain or some such, but no such luck. That was an unintentional pun, but I think I will leave it in and end on that note.

CARE Package Theme

UPDATE: I’m putting this post on top because I’d really like some votes, people! Thanks! 😉

There are some great sites out there with Care Package Themes. Here are some more CARE Package ideas that I’ve come up with.

As an FRG, we’ve already sent out the cookies and we are getting a combo Movie/Game Night package ready. “Work it Out” was DH’s idea.

Let me know which ones you like the best and if you have other items you’d add to these packages or additional themes your soldier has enjoyed!

1. Work It Out!: sneaker balls; deodorant; gatorade powder; hydroxycut; power bars; cheap headphones; cheap tape players; workout CDs/Tapes; white gym socks (no logo)

2. Cookie Mania: everyone bakes a batch and we vacuum seal them

3. Night at the Movies: Inexpensive or pre-viewed DVD movies; stovetop popcorn; individual size movie-candy packs; entertainment magazines (like Rolling Stone); add favorite movie quotes to a poster; take pics of kids/do DVD recording with star shape in background and with sunglasses

4. Game Night: Poker Chips; Board Games; Packs of Cards; handheld games and puzzles; nut mix; snack packs

5. Texas Misses Y’all (adjust for your own state): Buy a stack of Texas postcards for people to fillout at the meeting (for their own and other soldiers); include pictures of favorite area spots; pralines or pecan cookies or muffins; Texas pens; Texas stationery; Longhorn stuff; anything useful with a Texas theme; hot sauce; BBQ sauce

6. Breakfast in Bed: Breakfast Bars, Individual Cereal Snack Packs, Powdered Juice Mix, Coffee, hot/cold mugs (saw them for $1 at Walmart), muffins; powdered creamer; instant oatmeal; poptarts

Upcoming Seasonal:

7. Winter Wonderland (may not translate around here 😉 ): hot cocoa mix; cider mix; winter cookies; have older kids/parents make and sign paper snowflakes and paste to construction paper; chapstick; hot/cold mugs (saw them for $1 at Walmart); marshmallows

8. Luck O’ the Irish: make a “kiss me I’m Irish” poster with shamrocks and kisses; send hershey kisses if still cool enough out; goodluck charms; St. Patrick’s themed cookies

9. Take Me Out to the Ball Game: Cracker Jacks; Peanuts; Sports Illustrated Magazine and other sports magazines; sports highlights DVDs; gum with basball cards; Nerf Balls; beef jerky; favorite team pennants

10. Are You Ready for Some Football?: Highlights DVDs, Sports Magazines, Team Pennants; Regulation and Nerf Footballs; pretzels and chips and salsa; posters of cheerleaders

Ways to Support Our Troops

Friends and family often ask what they can do for me and DH. We appreciate their thoughts and prayers and are thankful that we are blessed with a wonderful support network.

While there are always things that might make DH’s deployment easier and more comfortable, both of us want for very little.

So, these offers of help always makes me think of the soldiers who do not have such a large, loving group of family and friends.

Remember that our troops are adults who volunteered (or at least re-enlisted or continued their commitment) during wartime. Even so, these warriors who fight for our nation deserve our support (regardless of our political beliefs).

The Soldier You Know

If you know a soldier, many soldiers are comforted by news from home, well wishes from friends and family, and images of their home town.

Take some pictures and get everyone to write a message on the back of the photograph. Gather up some local products that will ship well and send a care package.

If you do not know a soldier, there are programs that will match you with soldiers (such as Any Soldier or Soldier’s Angels).

Send Letters and Packages

Regardless of whether you are offering your support to an old friend or a new friend you found on a website, do not underestimate the value of a simple letter. Soldiers like to know that we are behind them and appreciate their loyalty and their sacrifices.

Postage is the same as sending anything to a domestic destination. Letters and packages tend to arrive more reliably (anecdotally) through priority mail. Priority mail is not much more costly than regular 1st class and can make the difference in your package arriving and arriving in a timely manner. Packages may take up to 20 days, but I spoke with a postal worker whose son is deployed and he said most packages arrive in 10-12 days.

Since some will want to send more, there are a number of websites that provide suggestions and possible theme ideas for CARE packages.

Iraq now has a number of P/X (Post Exchanges) that sell most of the items soldiers need. So, as per this article posted at The Patriette, sending specialty or local products is more in need now than razors and baby wipes. At the same time, some soldiers are not near a P/X and would still appreciate those essentials. Soldiers also share and any care package will be put to good use. When in doubt, just ask!

Pressurized items should not be sent through the mail and some items are prohibited to our troops in theater, such as alcohol or pornography.

Baking

For the bakers out there, Nestle has some Tips for Sending Baked Goods. Others suggest adding a slice of bread to absorb excess moisture and wrapping in tin foil. I’ve also heard that Pringles containers make for good packaging. I have bought a food sealer to use for our Family Readiness Group (FRG)–I am the co-leader.

Remember that chocolate does not survive well in the Middle East.

Agencies and Organizations That Help

If you are still unsure of what to purchase, USO Operation Care Package takes the guess work out of sending a care package. You donate money and they pack and ship and you can still send a personal message with your package.

If you have a company or an entire school or town who would like to maximize your donations, consider Adopting a Platoon.

Beyond the Mail

If Care Packages are not quite your cup of tea, there are a ton of other ways to help. Remember when donating to a charity to do your research:

Operation Hero Miles allows you to donate your unused airline miles so troops can fly home free and family members can visit wounded soldiers for free.

Valour-it provides wounded soldiers with voice-activated laptops while they are hospitalized.

The Fisher House is a home-away-from home for the families of seriously ill or injured soldiers receiving treatment.

Beyond Active Duty Troops

Please also do not forget the children of our fallen warriors and our veterans.

Donate to the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) or send a Valentine to Any Veteran.

Here are some more ways to help.

As you can see, whether you have prayers, time, or money to spare, there are a variety of meaningful ways to support our troops.

Updates:

Cell Phones For Soldiers: They hope to provide as many soldiers as possible with prepaid calling cards for now, with an ultimate goal of providing banks of satellite phones, video phones and VOIP communications. Through generous donations and the recycling of used cell phones from drop-off sites across the country, they have already distributed thousands of calling cards to soldiers in Iraq, Kuwait, Afghanistan, and elsewhere.

Care Package Fun

Today I felt a sharp pain in my tummy. That scared me a little because I had heard sharp pain = bad. But it was very quick and I have a tendency to overreact to these things so I decided to call the women’s clinic rather than go in.

No answer.

Called again later. Someone picked up after two rings (WOW!) and put me through to a nurse. The nurse said this is normal… if the pain is severe and sustained and/or is accompanied by bleeding, that is a problem.

So, I went about my errands. I finally got all of DH’s equipment off and sent my first CARE package. (DH, if you are looking, stop reading)

This is a food one–powdered gatoraid, pretzels, summer sausage and cheese pack, Starbucks coffee, spices, etc.

The next one will be a sports package. A 1st Cav guy told me that one of the best packages they received contained footballs, soccer balls, and frisbees.

I also baked cookies (not for DH, I’m waiting until he gets to his final destination for that to ensure maximum freshness) for my Daddy. A couple of years ago, Daddy complained that since I moved out, we haven’t made Christmas chocolate chip cookies together. Now, I do not remember this tradition, but I went along with it last year and baked him some yummy cookies. This year, I am sending them with the 4th ID gifts.

I’m such a Daddy’s girl.

DH was able to IM and webcam tonight so I got a real treat. I have not been getting much work one with all these errands and the pregnancy exhaustion so I should get some work done.