Monday, January 24, 2011

"It is hands-on proof that somebody loves me."

Over on the Family Matters blog at, guest blogger Megan Just shares her care package experiences - both from the sending and receiving sides:

One of my most vivid memories of my deployment to Iraq is the adrenaline rush of receiving care packages. The arrival of a care package could instantly turn a bad day into a euphoric one. Receiving care packages was so important to me that I often wrote about them in my diary.

At the beginning of the deployment I wrote, "I received Eric's (my boyfriend) package today and I've been waiting all night to open it. I've been so looking forward to it that I don't want the anticipation to be over."

The next day, after opening his package, I wrote, "Eric's box was great. He sent my favorite fig sugarless cookies (which I am finishing as I write), a bunch of Cliff Bars and a variety of dried fruit. He also sent two issues of ‘National Geographic’ and ‘Climbing.’"

In that care package, Eric had also enclosed a small book he made that contained his favorite quotes, photos of us together and a long letter. My reaction to the book tugged at my heartstrings enough to nauseate you, so I'll pass on sharing that section of my diary here, but I can assure you, the book meant a lot more than the fig cookies and it is still a treasured item today.

Toward the end of deployment, even as the recipient of an estimated 50 care packages, I was still raving about them. "I love getting care packages," I wrote. "It is hands-on proof that somebody loves me. Opening them is like being a kid on Christmas morning. Each package contains a surprise and what is inside is additionally valuable because the contents are things that I can't procure myself."

While all care packages are great to receive, I did notice a difference in the emotional impact of a run-of-the-mill care package versus one where the sender put a lot of thought into selecting the contents and packaging them in a creative manner.

A run-of-the-mill care package contains generic items and things servicemembers can easily buy themselves at the Exchange on base or order online. A run-of-the-mill care package is one that might as well have been packed by one of the many web-based care package companies. See, the preparation of an exceptional care package cannot be outsourced. The preparation and thought that goes into a care package is half of its value and the servicemember can perceive this extra effort.
Read the whole thing. Some of her suggestions are better for when you know the recipient personally, but she also shares ideas you can use if you have adopted a service member who may not be able to share with you the things they would be interested in getting. It's always a good idea to be on the look-out for care package suggestions!

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