Troops deployed abroad appreciate gifts from home.
Your gifts for troops express your support...
and that's appreciated too!
Whatever our politics, and however we feel about the places and situations where our troops are deployed, our hearts go out to service members and the families from whom they are separated. During the Holidays and throughout the year, it's rewarding to send letters and gifts for troops.
Please Note: There are important rules & guidelines covering gifts to military personnel. Letters and parcels addressed to "Any Service Member" are rejected by the US Military Mail service. Gifts for Troops Overseas has more about mail regulations for APO and FPO addresses. (Find "any service member" gift suggestions below.)
Friends and family often have great birthday or holiday gift ideas for loved ones deployed abroad. But those in-between extras are important, too! Here are gifts for troops that your service person will be pleased to receive any time:
|Candy (heat resistant)||Disposable razors||Pens, pencils|
|Canned fruit (pop-top), applesauce||Toothbrush, toothpaste, dental floss||Writing paper, pads, envelopes|
|Granola/Power bars||Mouthwash||Magazines, comic books|
|Crackers, peanut butter/cheese snacks||Foot powder, baby powder||Books: novels, humor, short stories|
|Nuts (small cans)||Deodorant/antiperspirant||Local newspaper, photos|
|Dried fruit||Shaving cream||Small board games|
|Cookies||Comb, hairbrush||Crossword puzzles|
|Soup mix||Nail file, clippers||Playing cards|
|Kraft mac 'n cheese||Shampoo, conditioner||Disposable camera|
|Microwave popcorn||Bar soap||Sweat bands|
|Pretzels, Chex/Trail mix||Tissues (heavy-weight)||Dart board|
|Pop Tarts||Q-Tips||Frisbee, hackie-sack|
|Cereal (small boxes), instant oatmeal||Feminine hygiene products (for female troops)||Flashlight, bulbs, (pack batteries separately!)|
|Powdered drink mix||Waterless hand sanitizer||Sm. battery powered fan|
|Coffee (instant), Creamer||Moist wipes||Sunglasses (black, no brand names)|
|Tea bags, instant tea mix||Hand lotion||Small national flags|
|Hot cocoa mix||Sunscreen, lip balm||Portable radio, VCR/DVD player|
|Individual pkgs sugar, ketchup, condiments||Sm. laundry soap, dryer sheets, stain-out sticks||Host country language tapes|
|Tuna kits||Insect repellant||Music, tapes, CDs|
|Beef Jerky||Ear plugs||Small sewing kit|
|Packaged holiday food||White tee shirts||Birthday decorations|
|Plastic spoons, zip-lock baggies||Eyeglass wipes, eye drops, eyeglass repair kit||Small unbreakable holiday ornaments|
"Operation Gifts from the Homefront"
"Gifts from the Homefront" is a US Dept. of Defense program administered by the Army & Air Force Exchange Service (AAFES), the Navy Exchange (NEX) and the Coast Guard Exchange.
The US Military Exchanges operate commissaries and ship stores around the world, including deployed areas. AAFES Gift Certificates" are redeemable by military personnel and their family members with Exchange privileges at all locations worldwide, and may also be used for Exchange catalog and online shopping.
Prepaid Phone Cards - The Military Exchanges also offer and prepaid ship-to-shore calling cards. These are especially welcome gifts for troops and their families, because no form of contact is quite so reassuring as the sound of a loved one's voice.
For your own service member, or "any service member," Gifts from the Homefront Certificates and Prepaid Phone Cards are excellent gifts for troops!
Gifts for Troops - "Any Service Member"
Gifts for "Any Service Member" are coordinated by many community-based non-profit organizations that have completed a US Department of Defense review process. They accept donations of products and/or cash, and some also welcome volunteer help.
For information on gifts and support for Canadian troops and their families, please visit the Canadian Forces Personnel & Family Support Services (CFPFSS) website.
For many who are overseas, the greatest of gifts for troops is support for their families at home.
Imagine the stress on military moms and dads who can't be there when the going gets tough for their families. Now imagine the tremendous relief in knowing that a caring community at home is providing a safety net!
Operation Homefront provides and coordinates assistance to military families in many important areas, including:
- Household emergencies (e.g., plumbing, electrical problems)
- Auto or appliance repair
- Emergency food, emergency baby items
- Emergency health care
- Financial relief (e.g., mortgage, utilities, necessities)
- Relocation (transportation, moving costs)
- Community events
- Counseling and recovery support
Now we'd like to single out a few creative gifts-for-troops ideas and provide links to organizations that coordinate them:
Getting kids involved - Hero Hugs is an organization founded and operated by kids. They send "hugs" in the form of cards and packages to troops deployed overseas and to wounded service members. A wonderful example for kids and parents everywhere!
Frequent flier miles - The US Department of Defense "Hero Miles" program accepts donations of frequent flyer miles, and provides free tickets during medical treatment to troops wounded in Iraq or Afghanistan (and their families).
Knit or sew a gift for distribution by these organizations:
- From Operation Helmetliner, a pattern for knitted helmet liners (note revisions).
- From The Ships Project, patterns for knitted, crocheted and sewn hats, slippers, neck coolers and more.
- From Soldiers' Angels, patterns for hats, slippers, lap robes, wheelchair accessories, and Blankets of Hope for hospitalized troops.
- For wounded service members, Sew Much Comfort seeks volunteers to sew adaptive garments that will accommodate medical devices such as braces and casts.
The gift of communication - Wireless telephone, videoconferencing, and computers with Internet and email access allow service members overseas to interact with their families back home... to see the new baby, to visit with a sick friend, to share in milestone celebrations. What wonderful gifts for troops! FreedomCalls Foundation is bringing the technology to Army camps overseas and special centers in the States for families who lack broadband connections.
Adopt a service member - Soldiers' Angels and Hugs for Our Soldiers run programs that will connect you or your group with an individual US service person deployed abroad. You will be sent information about your service member so you can get to know each other and exchange messages.
Gifts for troops make any day a special day
- for our service members, for their families -
and for you, too!
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Logo photo by Jane M. Sawyer; "Sarge" by Kees Huyser;
Kid with flag by D.Turner-dijitalproductions, all courtesy of morguefile.com.
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