Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Care Package

A few weeks ago, I was flitting around the internet (as you do) and I came across Troop Care Packages. I was reading around the site, thinking to myself that we should totally 'adopt' a troop and send him/her care packages.

A few years ago, I had the occasion to work with a group of youth who had just graduated high school. Many troops are just exactly that age; 18, 19, 20 years old. And I was struck completely by one overwhelming thought: These kids are SO. YOUNG. Ridiculously young. I don't ever remember being or feeling as young as they seemed to me. It was crazy.

Erik was across from me, I had my laptop in my...well, in my lap...and he looked up to ask me something and he saw the tears running down my face. Now, I'm not a weeper. So he waited a second and asked me what was up. There I was, reading about these kids, across the world, so far from their families, friends, lives, the worlds they know, and there's a section in the blog where they can write in and make specific requests.

Do you know what the number one request was for? Items to give to the children and people in the areas they are serving. Used jeans and tennies, blankets, hats, mittens, sunglasses... I'm not made of steel, people.

So I signed up and we packaged up the items our new friend Robert requested. We don't know anything personal about him (yet! But I hope he sends us a note with the cards we put in the box!) but we know he is at an outpost in Afghanistan with very few amenities. He asked for snacks, cafeinated beverages, baby wipes, and a multi-tool or knife. There is no microwave available.

The flat-rate box recommended is pretty small, but here's all the stuff we're cramming in. A multi-tool, a huge container of cashews, assorted corn nuts, two packages of baby wipes, cheese-n-cracker snacks, rice krispy treats, cans of starbuck's mocha double shot energy drinks, and two cans of fruit...peaches and pinapples. I can't send the box out until I get confirmation that canned fruit is okay...I know from the customs site that fresh fruit, animals, and live plants are not cool. Fingers crossed on the canned fruit though. If I were stuck in the desert, I'm pretty sure of can of peaches would make me cry.

I only had to repack it twice in order to get in everything but two packages of corn nuts and one rice krispy treat. We also included some cards and envelopes. They're pretty girly...what can I say? I tried to butch it up by picking the ones that were white with mostly blue print...of birds and flowers. Ugh. Hopefully he'll at least use them to write to us! I'm not sure if these particular snacks are hit or miss.

I'm really grateful that this woman Angel is keeping this site up. It seems like she's been doing this for many years. And it breaks my heart just writing that...years. I am a peace-nik. I will just about always take the non-violent option. I'm not going to argue the point that some people are cuh-razy and really only respond to threats and ass-kickings. Of course that's true; I don't live in a bubble. I am very specifically against this war, and the war crimes committed in our name. But I am most definitely pro-human. And I am so happy to be able to have this chance to do such a small thing that lets me reach out...across the world...to make a totally human connection.


  1. I'm in your corner. I, too, will send a care package. Thank you, Moose

  2. Our cousin just got back from a year in Baghdad - in fact, he is heading home this very week! We also have many parents from our elementary school over there. We send out monthly boxes with goodies. You can even make a big pan cookie or brownie and vacuum pack it - even after a week of shipping time he said they tasted like they were baked that day. The other things his platoon asked for was toothpaste/brushes; socks (I would send the kind that keep their feet dry); and foot spray - lots of Lotrimin powdered foot spray. Gift cards for music downloads are fun too. I'd also send a box of small stuffed animals and soccer balls (you can deflate and send a pump). He said the kids REALLY appreciated soccer balls and that way many kids could play with the one thing. Hard candy was also a treat.
    As for being over there...well, I have my own opinions on it and I love talking to the HUGE population of military folks that live and pass through San Antonio about it. They make me feel better about our involvement over there.

  3. You are a good person. I really like your peaches, wanna shake your tree.

    But you know. That would be wrong.

    Anywho. You are awesome to do this. I'm going to check out the site.

  4. Moose: Great! You don't even have to 'adopt' someone ongoing, they have plenty of need for 'one time' packages!

    Brit: Ha! Nice Steve Miller reference. Hard to work into regular conversation, so you get bonus points!

    Cori: I can't wait to see you at the reading! I can't believe you're going on a tour with a bun in the oven! You're a better woman than I am. :)

    Tracy: I totally thought of you when I saw this! I almost sent you the link directly, but I knew you were already doing a lot for your cousin. As for the war itself; it's an ill wind indeed that blows no good at all. I am one hundred percent certain that the acts of kindnesses and humanity performed by our troops, individually and collectively, are the bright bright lining of a very dark cloud. As much as I can appreciate what they do on a micro-level, it doesn't change how I feel about our involvement. I will never, ever, be able to reconcile the political and systemic mess behind this war with the kind of world I want my children to live in, or the kind of person I want to be.