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For many of us, Thanksgiving is a time to gather with loved ones for a good meal and reflect on all we are thankful for. This year, The SITREP is especially thankful for the servicemembers deployed overseas and away from their families on Thanksgiving. So, we compiled a list of ways we can all say “thank you” to our men and women in the military unable to be with their loved ones this week.

 

“Man Crates”

One company took care packages to the next level. Man Crates will send quality and themed packages with items like video games, cigars, and poker sets in a durable wooden crate to both international and domestic locations. More traditional packages, like the “Cow-pocalypse Crate” filled with different types of jerky, are also available. Because the crates are nailed shut, each wooden crate comes with a handy crowbar to pry the box open. The company is well-versed in military care packages, and ships to APO & FPO overseas addresses, and they will advise you on what you can and cannot send to and from particular areas.

 

Adopt A Soldier

Various non-profits allow you to connect with deployed soldiers to help get them letters and items from home. One of the more prominent “adoption” organizations is AAUSS, which will connect you to a deployed servicemember who has signed up to receive a supporter. To date, the organization has over 57 volunteers and 835,000 supporters sending items to soldiers all over the globe.

 

At Home

A wise woman once said, “You don’t have to go all around the world to find people in need. Sometimes, the people that need the most help are in your own backyard.” During the holidays, let’s not forget the military members, veterans, and military families right here at home.

This year, consider adopting a military family during deployment, signing up to invite a US-based servicemember into your home on Thanksgiving or Christmas, or locate a non-profit that offers financial assistance to military families in need. If you live near a base, chances are there is a local non-profit dedicated to helping military families during the holidays while their soldier is deployed.

 

Care Packages

First, it’s good to know what deployed soldiers will already have during Thanksgiving. The military recently shipped 300 pounds of cranberries and a ton of Turkey (literally) to the American troops in Liberia alone. But, care packages with items such as a handwritten Thanksgiving letter and a holiday treat, like gingerbread cookies and hot cocoa packets, will better fill in the gaps between what soldiers are already provided and what they are used to during the holidays. There are tried-and-true holiday items to send and ways to mail these packages, so do a quick bit of research before you send anything out the door. (See our suggestions below on what not to mail.)

Sending a care package for Thanksgiving or Christmas? Here’s what not to include:

  • Canned items. Canned items tend to be heavier and more ooey-goey than their dry counterparts. (Gelatin turkey with a side of sickly-sweet cranberries, anyone?) Pack dry versions of their favorite food, like Turkey jerky, instead of canned meats and packages of instant potatoes instead of easily-crushable potato chips (even the canned kind).
  • Unfamiliar things. Recreating a holiday meal with items like instant stuffing is nice until the meal becomes more stereotypical than sentimental. For a soldier used to a particular kind of holiday treat, a familiar item may be more helpful than a “typical” one.
  • Chocolate. This is a controversial topic, but trust us. Melted chocolate is for S’mores, not care packages. Consider alternatives like Nutella or Hershey’s chocolate spread. These are contained, clean, and still a delicious ways for your soldier to get their chocolate fix.

 

Remember, it never hurts to simply say “thank you” the next time you see a man or woman in uniform. Have any special way you thank servicemembers during the holidays? Let us know in the comments below.