Throughout my career, I’ve been fortunate enough to receive numerous care packages from a multitude of people. Nothing beats the joyful feeling that comes from opening up a package and discovering a bag of your favorite goodies inside. And, I’m not alone in the sentiment. Many United States troop members love receiving care packages. Whether it’s from family members, friends, or even supportive strangers with a caring heart, nothing tops receiving a surprise care package when you’re deployed. But, how do you reach a service member if you don’t even know their name? How can you send a package addressed to a complete stranger? Is there a group out there that can help you reach out to these patriotic men and women who deserve our kindness and support? Fortunately, there are a number of these groups.
Typically, the majority of these organizations are non-profit companies seeking to help out troops. In fact, they actually work closely enough with the Department of Defense that the DoD website has a list of recommended ones. While each organization may vary in terms of their methods of operation and distribution of donations, the charities listed below provide a means for deployed soldiers to feel more connected to the world they miss.
For the Troops
(vetted by GuideStar)
For the Troops is my favorite organization. It is based out of California and has sent over 190,000 care packages since its inception. Last year alone, they sent over 4,000 packages to every sailor (including me) on board the USS Ronald Reagan during the summer and fall patrol periods. It felt like Christmas in the summer for us. This organization also host events in the community of Simi Valley which is close to Naval Base Ventura County (my previous command).
The care packages and boxes go for $25.00 a pop and you can have it filled with standard toiletries and goodies, include a letter, and even sponsor a box directly to a family member. The organization also has an option for donating a set quantity (up to 6 for $150.00).
Before my encounter with a For the Troops care package, I had never received any care packages from anyone, and it was really surprising to find a box waiting for me in the shop. Candy, socks, underwear, and snacks were among some of the items that were included, as well as some toiletries which are life savers on a ship. But, it was the “thank you” letters from kids that really sold me on it. I still keep some of them in my desk as a memento.
(vetted by the Combined Federal Campaign)
Brian Horn was an Army Sergeant whose parent sent him countless care packages throughout his tour of duty. But one day, Brian kept asking for more, even though his parents were sending about six per week. When they asked why, Brian responded that they were for those soldiers who didn’t receive any. With that, an idea was born.
Brian’s parents started sending care packages with the line “Attn: Any Soldier.” These would be distributed to those unfortunate enough to not get any mail. Once Brian’s service ended, the family decided to turn these actions into a program. Marty Horn (Brian’s dad) got involved with different websites to get the program’s mission out into the world. His plea was answered with a flood of emails from people asking how they could help military personnel, and Any Soldier was born.
Their system is simple: They have volunteers stationed around the world who nominate fellow deployed service members who don’t receive any mail or packages from home. Their information is in a searchable database, where donors can choose who they want to send a package to. When the package is received by the volunteer, it’s distributed to the needy service members.
(vetted by GuideStar)
Created October 2003, the Forgotten Soldiers Outreach sends care packages to soldiers who need encouragement and a morale boost. They deliver care packages to men and women deployed around the world, ensuring that no soldiers are ever forgotten. This program works through a system similar to For the Troops. Every $25.00 donation means a care package will be sent to a service member. Depending on how many people they’ve got registered in their system, they will send anywhere from 10-500 care packages a month.
This organization predominantly works on a deployment basis, meaning they only send packages to troops that are currently deployed. Also, this is a nonprofit organization that even includes their financials on their website, which helps you see that the donations are going to exactly what the company says they’re going to. Finally, they host events throughout the year, and contact schools for written letters from the school kids that they attach to the packages.
Adopt a Platoon (AAP)
(vetted by the Combined Federal Campaign)
Adopt a Platoon is one of the older nonprofit organizations, having been around since 1998. On average, AAD sends anywhere from 100-500 care packages per day.
The story behind Adopt a Platoon is very moving. The organization was started by Chauncey Walter David Hagg, who sadly passed away at the young age of 37. He enlisted in the service, and when his first opportunity to call his parents from deployment arrived, he asked for ten care packages instead of one. One for himself, and nine for his friends who hadn’t received anything. It was from that request that the idea for the AAD was born. Today, soldiers, sailors, Marines, and airmen all receive packages on a regular basis from Adopt a Platoon, and every single one of them is thankful for their service.
Operation: Care and Comfort
(vetted by Combined Federal Campaign)
Established in 2003, Operation: Care and Comfort provides support to troops deployed and serving overseas. What initially started as a combined effort of three co-founders in San Jose eventually became an independent nonprofit organization in 2010. The original goal of the OCC was to help out 19 units deployed to Afghanistan, but eventually their charity grew to the point where they help out dozens of units deployed in numerous regions of conflict.
By working with various volunteer organizations and communities, and by receiving donations from generous individuals, they assemble care packages to send out monthly. Additionally, their efforts have managed to score tickets to games for service members who have recently returned home. Ultimately, their programs have had such impact on our troops that they were honored at the White House during the Bush Presidency.
Overall, this company works a little differently in that they don’t typically ask for donations in the form of money. Normally they ask people to buy products and send a box filled with snacks, toiletries, etc. After OCC receives the goodies, they distribute them evenly among the care packages for the troops that signed up for the program. People can also bring the items personally to various sites and locations in San Jose California.
Operation Gratitude (OG)
(vetted by GuideStar)
Back in 2003, Carolyn Blashek was volunteering at the USO in Los Angeles Airport. One day, a soldier came back on leave for his mother’s funeral. When at the office, the serviceman broke down in tears and shared his story of how his wife had divorced him, and his child had passed away as an infant. He had lost all hope and felt alone as he had no one left in his life.
The soldier said he knew he was going back to the war zone, but believed that he wouldn’t make it back home. He expressed his feelings of despair and felt that no one would care if he passed away. It was at that moment that Carolyn realized there are many individuals currently serving who feel like this, and need someone to send them hope to carry on. In response, she eventually began a grassroots movement that became Operation Gratitude.
Since its inception, Operation Gratitude has sent over 2 million care packages to servicemen in all branches of the armed forces. The OG’s goal is simple: to bring smiles to the faces of those enduring deployment for the sake of all our freedom. But, Operation Gratitude understands that it’s not just servicemen who serve, so they also do their best to honor and recognize servicemen’s families with care packages of their own. A small $45 donation sponsors three care packages for a deployed platoon, and over 300,000 individually addressed care packages get sent to all branch members in a single year. Additionally, a separate batch goes to the children and caregivers of these brave men and women.
Now, these are only some of the organizations available for civilians to donate to troops. There is a comprehensive list that can be found here. Servicemen everywhere feel the pain of loneliness as bullets fly through the sky. Even more nights are spent looking at the moon’s reflection upon a dark ocean, the vast mysteries of a desert, or the loneliness of foreign soil. These care packages that they receive are often the only form of comfort they can get, and the supplies inside are immensely appreciated. If you were ever curious about donating, this is the time, as many of these groups are tax deductible and will let you help out the military without actively having to enlist.
Disclaimer: The content in this article is the opinion of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the policies or opinions of US Patriot Tactical.