Saturday, November 24, 2012

Send a Little Bit of Christmas to a Soldier

I posted this article at the end of October, but wanted to have the same information up during the Christmas mailing season. Please feel free to share this info!

If you have loved ones deployed during the upcoming holiday you know time is short to get Christmas in the mail. This is a great time to pull together friends and family to help. Send out suggestions and invite everyone to participate. It’s especially nice if they include notes and photos. Serving oversees, soldiers can feel like they’ve been forgotten and these boxes help them know they’re not!

Also, be sure to pack any extra you can. There are plenty who won’t receive anything, and soldiers ALWAYS share!

For those who may be doing this for the first time, here are some hits and suggestions.

What to Pack
  • Christmas Candy—even chocolate, this time of year it should do fine.
  • Baked Goods—cookies and bars travel better.
  • Individual Drink Mix—this makes even luke-warm water palatable for our men and women far away from home. Also, the individual packets are much easier to carry when they’re away from base.
  • Beef Jerky—our soldiers need good quality snacks and this is a popular source of protein while out on patrol.
  • Nuts—another great snack, packed with protein.
  • Individual Snacks—you know the individual likes and dislikes of your soldier, but some good choices are protein bars, granola, small pop-top cans of fruit, etc.
  • Handwritten Cards & Letters—now is a great time ask friends and family to write short cards and letters to arrive inside the box.
  • iTunes Gift Cards—Most soldiers have iTunes accounts and can get much more than just music. There are audio books, TV shows, and movies available.
  • Pictures—yes, you can email them pictures, but something to have in hand often means the world to our loved ones away during the holidays.
  • Socks— for soldiers in combat uniforms, socks don’t last long, so it’s always a welcome gift.
  • Batteries—again, there’s always a need for these.
  • Toiletries—travel size soap, deodorant, toothpaste, etc. But, if you’re including these things in a shipment with food be sure to double bag these items. Nothing’s worse than getting a box from home where everything is covered in mouthwash or toothpaste.
  • Wet Wipes—great for so many things, also a need for those deployed.
  • Playing Cards & Frisbees—life on base is sometimes boring and these can help pass the time.
  • Books & Movies—again, both good ways to pass the off hours. Believe it or not, childhood Christmas classics, like A Charlie Brown Christmas, are favorites with our soldiers! 

Tips on Packing
  • Be ready to ship three to four weeks ahead of when you want the package to arrive.
  • Use small quart size, zip-top plastic bags to double bag anything that’s a liquid or gel. It’s devastating to get a box full of unusable items because something burst in transit.
  • It’s also a good idea to double bag anything that’s powder. That way it will still be usable if it breaks open during shipping. 

Now it’s your turn, I’d love to hear some of your tips and suggestions.


Friday, November 9, 2012

Remembering Our Veterans

A guest post from Leigh DeLozier

Much of the media’s attention lately has been on the elections, and rightly so. But let’s not forget we’ve slipped into November and that next Sunday, Nov. 11, is Veterans Day. It’s one of those holidays I know I’m guilty of not paying close enough attention to, even though I certainly should.
As the WWII generation ages and leaves us, I think many of us tend to forget what a gift they gave us through their service. Here are a few numbers to help put it in perspective:
  • 16.1 million Americans served in WWII, with an average time of serving overseas of 16 months.
  • An estimated 292,000 U.S. soldiers, sailors, airmen, and marines were killed in battle during WWII.
  • A total of 405,000 U.S. military servicemen died in WWII, either during or outside of battle.

Those are sobering numbers, and they don’t even take into account the sacrifices made during all the other conflicts the U.S. has been involved in. They also don’t reflect the numbers of Americans who have served during peacetime, but were willing to go to battle if needed. For example, just from my own personal connections …
  • One great-uncle served under Patten in WWI. He drove a tank and carried shrapnel in his skull for the rest of his life (which was long-lived, fortunately).
  • Another great-uncle was taken as a German prisoner of war during WWI. He was in the prison camp at the same time his brother was in an English hospital recovering from the shrapnel wounds.
  • My godfather participated in the D-Day campaign.
  • Several other men in the church where I grew up were also WWII veterans. I don’t know all of their stories, partly because most of them never wanted to talk about it. But I always knew they were heroes.
  • One of my uncles was career Navy. Another served his Navy time in Ireland.
  • My dad is a Coast Guard veteran; my father-in-law was an Air Force veteran. Several other friends – or immediate relatives of friends – served in peacetime or were part of the campaigns associated with Desert Storm.

Even so, I’ll never truly understand the stress and sacrifice they and their families go through because I haven’t been in that spot myself when a loved one is on the line. But I can remember to say “thank you,” I can teach my children what these people have done for us, I can pray for our military and their families.
I hope you’ll remember to do the same. And if you have close connections with someone currently serving in our military, I would love to know. I’ll add them to my prayers.

Leigh DeLozier is a corporate writer and editor by day and freelance writer by night. She works on her middle grade and YA novels during her kids’ music or dance lessons, while waiting in the car rider line at school, or when the rest of her family is sleeping. She loves any kind of chocolate, is addicted to Beth Moore Bible studies, and drinks entirely too many Diet Cokes. She blogs about writing, books, and her life with Christ at You’ll find her on Facebook by searching for Author Leigh DeLozier or on Twitter as @lbdelozier.