Friday, November 13, 2009

Time is running out for stockings for our troops! 2009

Time is moving too quickly -- there are about TWO weeks left to get Christmas stockings out to our troops. (December 1st! if you can't meet this date I can suggest other ways to help.)

If you can help, please email me ASAP. Email:

Some suggestions for filling the Christmas stockings:
  • Candy candy candy - chocolate, candy canes (mini ones ship best), hard candy, whatever.
  • Tubes of cookies or chips
  • Small (1.5oz) bags of cookies, Goldfish crackers, nuts, etc.
  • Mints, breath mints or strips
  • Fun novelty treats as are for sale at drug stores
  • Healthy snack/energy bars
  • Chewing gum
  • Beef jerky
  • Small cans of energy drinks (for troops in the field)
  • Starbucks "VIA" ready brew coffee packets (about $2 for a 3 pack)
  • Microwave popcorn (commercial only - no homemade products can be accepted)
  • Hot chocolate packets
  • Lipbalm (ex: Chapstick. For troops in the field; not needed at the hospital)
  • Small bottles of lotion
  • Nail clippers
  • Current music CDs, or movie DVDs
  • A short string of Christmas lights
  • did I mention: candy candy candy?
  • You'll find many fun items once you start looking!
Check back often as I will be updating this list.

Do NOT send batteries of any kind unless specifically noted for your soldiers.

Be sure to read the extensive DO NOT SEND list for the wounded troops in a posting below from a couple of weeks ago.

Do NOT wrap items in the stockings. For the safety and security of our wounded troops the Red Cross volunteers have to inspect the stockings.

If you and/or your group has some funds available for more costly items, the troops would really love to get
1. iTune cards,
2. iPod Shuffles,
3. long distance phone cards (domestic; with no expiration date)
4. hand-held electronic games.
Items 1 - 4 above should NOT be put into the stockings with the other items however. Put them into an envelope in the same box. The chaplains will insert them into stockings for the troops who need them the most.

Throwing a Santa hat or silly reindeer antlers into the box is fun too.

You may make the stockings personal by inserting a note card with your name and address if you would like, and even a photo.

If you make a stocking specifically for a female soldier, tie a big pink ribbon on to it with a label "Female".

Email me at and I'll give you an address to send stockings too.

But hurry -- time is getting short. Plus, I'm going out of the country the first half of December. I'll answer as many emails as I can until then.

DECORATIONS: If you want to send decorations to your soldiers they should go out now to give the troops time to enjoy them before Christmas.

Dollar stores sell the nice 14" furry red and white stockings for, you guessed it, $1.00!

Of course, non-denominational packages can be sent too. In this photo below you'll see some boxes rather than stockings.

Postage rates:
  • Your packages are actually going to a military base in the USA, so you are not paying international mailing rates. Still, it can get costly.
  • For mailings after November 15th you must use PRIORITY MAIL. (I recommend always using Priority Mail. The packages are handled better all along the route.)
  • Priority Mail FLAT RATE boxes usually save you money (over normal Priority Mail rates). As long as you can close the box with the flaps in place, the weight can go up to over 20 pounds.
  • There is a military discount of $2.00 if you use the LARGE flat rate priority boxes. I think they cost about $14 to mail now, but only about $12 if it's going to an Army Post Office (APO) destination as ours are.

Other mailing tips:

As of November 15th the post office recommends all packages go Priority Mail. Parcel Post may not make it in time for Christmas. USPS dates link

  • Packages should be neat and professional looking. Using the free boxes from the post office for Priority Mail works well.
  • Do tape well. All edges and corners. Use clear tape if possible.
  • Do write all addresses neatly. Security is very important. If your return address is not clear, the package could be discarded.
  • Do not decorate the outside of the box. Do not make it tempting for possible theft.
  • Do seal any liquids inside a ziploc bag. (You might use holiday bags to make it look nice.)
click here for USPS: USPS Military Packages link

Customs Declaration forms will be required.
  • Getting forms ahead of time will be helpful so you can list the contents of the package before sealing it.
  • You will have to list all contents, but do not make the lists too detailed.
  • Don't list "Christmas stocking" as that will make it more tempting to thieves. You might put "socks" (hey, that's not UNtrue!)
  • You will have list the contents, but be as vague as you can and still be legal. Again to avoid encouraging theft.

Joining in late? Too busy?
If you are too rushed to get items out in time for the holidays, I do have a Chaplain looking for supplies you can help with. Ask me about COP Shocker unit.

If you would like to just send a couple of bags of candy for the troops you can do that too!

Once again this year, there is an email circulating around the internet asking people to send an extra Christmas card or two to "Any Soldier", or "Recovering Soldier" at Walter Reed Hospital. The Army has warned of this mis-informed goal. You do not know where it actually started. While it is a noble idea, tens of thousands of Christmas cards have to be opened and inspected for security reasons, and it just can't be done by the hospitals. Thousands get thrown away.

Here's a link for other ways Walter Reed Army Hospital can use help:

I have names of troops you can send your cards to if you would like to do so.