Yes, it’s not even Thanksgiving yet, but to get a card or package to a soldier for Christmas you need to start thinking about it now. You may have seen this graphic…
… making its way around Facebook. It’s a great idea and one I shared before I thought to check out snopes.com. According to them, this is false:
The U.S. Postal Service will not accept mail addressed to “Any Soldier,” “Any Wounded Soldier,” or the like because if it did, it could be providing a conduit for those who might do harm to armed services members. Such offerings are either returned to sender (if a return address has been provided or if one is found within the package) or donated to charities (if no address for the sender is found). Similarly, military hospitals will not accept letters, cards, or packages addressed in such manner for the same reason. Such beneficence, no matter how kindly meant, is not permitted to reach the soldiers they were intended for.
Crestfallen, I wondered how I could legitimately help. Then I remembered anysoldier.com, which had been bookmarked on my old laptop (one pitfall of updating, eh?). So I went there right away to check into sending Christmas card or gifts. Any Soldier is an organization that grew out of one family’s desire to make sure that every soldier serving in a foreign country would receive gifts and cards. The Horns would send care packages to their son, Brian, who was serving in Northern Iraq in 2003. Brian asked them to send as many as they could “for the soldiers that didn’t get any.” The Horns started Any Soldier, which grew to include all branches of the military, and it exploded. So far, it has served over 2 million military personnel. That’s pretty impressive!
How can you make a difference for a soldier, sailor, airman, marine or coast guard? It’s pretty simple, really. First, you choose someone from the list of military personnel. Here, you can read messages from and make notes about who you think you can help. They may need anything from a simple letter to personal items, books, DVDs, clothing or food. But this is about more than just stuff — hearing from you lets that soldier know that you support them and appreciate what they are doing. It may not sound like much, but it really does mean a lot. Another great thing to send is Beanie Babies to give to local children. Beanie Babies are easy to carry, don’t break and create good will for the units.
You may get a reply from your soldier, especially if you include a self-addressed, stamped envelope, some paper and a pen in your package. This page outlines what you may and may not send. Each soldier’s posting has information on restricted items if there are special ones. And don’t forget our women who are serving, too! The selection of feminine products at the PX is usually quite small, assuming they even have one nearby. You can also donate funds, if that’s how you want to help.
During the holidays, it can get very lonely for our troops. This is a great time to get involved and send something to let them know we are thinking of them. This video will get you started:
That graphic making the rounds had the right idea, just the wrong execution. But, now that we know how to send gifts and cards to our military personnel overseas, we can make up for it. Share this far and wide so we can make this holiday season brighter for our brave men and women in the military!