Items to include in care packages to Iraq

One of my brothers is currently stationed in Iraq. Talking to my sister in law, I found out that he and other soldiers have to buy their toiletries (soap, shampoo) from the exchange, which is open for a couple hours 2-3 times a week. Very long lines.

So, I’m going about putting together packages for him and them. I plan to hit up local stores, to see if they’re willing to donate discontinued items such as lotion, soap, etc to send off. Also, a local Borders for past date magazines-I think that might be nice.

However. I would appreciate suggestions on essentials and non essentails I should ask for and buy. Any hints on how I should go about asking would be appreciated, too.

Also, for shipping to an APO- do I have to use US mail, or is it ok as long as noone has to sign for it?


I hear the hot items are Kool-Ade and ramen noodles. I would imagine any non-perishable food items that would keep them from having to eat those MREs for one meal would be appreciated

Believe it or not, underwear (boxers and t-shirts), all cotton, please.

Soldiers tend to rot the ones they wear into nothingness.

Also cushioned-sole socks.

Here’s some good stuff to send, from one of the Great Americans that has been there, a comrade of mine, and one of your underappreciated, underpaid protectors. Simple stuff, but if you can’t get it, it’s priceless.

Plastic or coated hangers
AA batteries
Shower curtains or sheets (for privacy)
Clothes pins
Clothes line
Duct tape
Extension cords
Small clip-on fans
Shower caddies with handles
Small plastic baskets (for use in wall lockers, to hold misc. personal items)

Help 'em out, Dopers. They’ve earned it.

I’ve been sending packages to a friend of mine who’s serving, thanks for the new ideas of stuff to include.

Some of his favorites so far include
~Beef Jerky
~Crystal Light (koolaid needs sugar, and if you send the sugar included mix, it’s heavy and expensive to ship. Plus, the crystal light mixes are small individual servings, good for pouring just enough into one’s water bottle to flavor it up, share with a few mates, and throw away the cup, nothing to carry about and worry about spilling)
~Stationary and stamps
~Phone cards

I’m not sure what you’re asking about mailing the packages, exactly. I simply take mine to the local post office, fill out the customs thingy and pay the postage. AFAIK, he’s never had to sign for his packages.

I wondered if UPS could be used, but I guess you can’t send anything to an APO that needs a signature.

Good idea on the crystal light! All of these suggestions are great- another sister in law (my husband’s sister) is a teacher, and liked the idea of having her kids put together shoebox sized packages for the soldiers, with a note. So I’m going to pass these lists to her for suggestions, as well as hitting up stores.

I’ve been thinking of other foods- do you think dried fruit would be an idea?

In Anthony Swofford’s book Jarhead, written about his time as a scout/sniper in Desert Storm, he mentions some things that he and his fellow Marines asked a reporter to send them. Among them were: baby wipes (easy to use to clean up a little, I imagine they’re sweating a lot), underwear (I think he mentioned that, but even if he didn’t Paul’s suggestion sounds good), newspapers so that they could find out what was going on – might have been requests for sports pages specifically (I know there have to be some Cubs fans over there that are missing out), batteries, and porn magazines.

If I had the book handy I would go ahead and give a direct quote, but unfortunately I do not. Maybe someone else has read it?

You could probably go to your local drug store and just grab one of everything. If your bud can’t use it, I’m sure someone else there can. :slight_smile:

I understood that CamelBaks were in big demand when the fighting started. Don’t know if that’s still the case now that the occupation has begun.

One thing that people forget, is that there are plenty of female soldiers in Iraq. I’ll bet more than a few of the women will be ecstatic if they get a care package with lots of feminine hygiene products.

I’ve been sending care packages to a soldier in Iraq through Operation Military Support. They have a very helpful list on their website.

Some things they don’t mention (suggested to me by a friend who was in the 1st Gulf War):

Jock Itch creme (My friend said that it was best just to send it and not mention a thing about it. He swears it will be most appreciated.)

Black shoelaces for boots

Zip lock bags (Gallon size)

Flea collars (Yes, the dog/cat kind.) to put around ankles. (Wards off sand fleas)

Also, some things that the customs folks are picky about:

Porn will not get through. Don’t bother.
All jerky/other meat products must say “USDA Grade” on the packaging.
Mouthwash that contains alchohol will be confiscated. Ditto for cough syrup.
Matches, lighters etc.- Not a chance.
Things I’ve learned:

Metal gum wrappers, etc. will get the package torn open, as it sets off metal detectors.
Chocolate melts, especially the stuff on power bars.
Small canisters of shaving cream and deodorant should be in plastic containers. The metal ones won’t make it through. (Same as the gum wrappers.)

Put EVERYTHING in plastic baggies. If one thing leaks, everything else gets ruined too.