Volunteer Project: "Support OurTroops" Drive!
Gather essential items for our awesome G.I. Joes and Jills.
- Troop Drive driving force:Your kid
- The wind beneath his wings:You
- Friends, neighbors, classmates:Anyone who wants to help
- The goods:See the Troop Wish List below for suggestions on what to collect.
- Collection site:Like a post office, bank, local shop, religious organization's location or school
- Collection box
- Collection box poster:Something eye-catching!
- Poster board
- Shipping materials:Postage, box (or boxes if his drive was very prolific), tape, marker, etc.
- Have your kid decide who he'd like to send his drive items to. Soldiers in Iraq? Kuwait? Afghanistan? If he knows a service man or woman overseas, he can send his goods to them to distribute to their unit. If he doesn't know anyone who has been deployed, help him check out Anysoldier.com, an incredible soldier-created resource that will help him locate members of the Armed Forces serving in combat zones who have volunteered to receive packages and pass them around to other service members serving with them.
- The military site America Supports You also has a lengthy list of associations that can help you find a place to send your package, including organizations that allow you to "adopt" a soldier or a whole platoon. (Note: The "Any Service Member" program that allowed individuals to send general packages and mail to "any service member" has been discontinued by the Department of Defense, so your package must be addressed to an individual service member. For more info, check out the US Postal Service's Supporting our Troops FAQs. )
- Have your kid decide what he wants to collect during his drive. See our Troop Wish List below for ideas of what to collect and what to leave out, or ask the organization or soldier you choose what their unit wants or needs. Desired items can vary greatly from unit to unit.
- Invite your kid pick out a collection box. Any clean, sturdy box will do.
- Help him make a sign for his box. He can either create one with markers on a big piece of poster board or if he's tech-savvy he can make one on the computer. Make sure he indicates on the sign what items he is collecting.
- Have your kid decide where he'd like to set up his collection box. The library, post office, bank or the cafeteria at his school are all good choices. Make sure he asks for permission before placing the box. And make sure to put it in a highly visible, high-traffic area. Send out a quick email to let your friends and family know it's there so they can contribute, too.
- Help him drop the box off at the chosen location. Don't forget to attach the sign!
- Wait a few days before returning to the box. He can visit periodically during the duration of the drive to empty out the box (which will hopefully be brimming over with goods for the troops every time!).
- Bring your kid to pick up the box when the drive is over (two weeks is a good time frame).
- Help your kid carefully place everything into boxes for shipping.
- Consider calling the USPS Expedited Package Supply Center at 1-800-610-8734 to request a free Military Care Kit, which includes boxes, labels, tape and customs forms.
- Help him place anything that's liquid or scented into plastic zipper bags, and be sure to keep the food separate from the sundries. No one likes their Cheetos to taste like soap!
- For a nice personal touch, invite your kid to write a short letter to the soldiers wishing them well and telling them all about his Troop Drive.
- Help him mail the boxes or drop them off at the elected organization's drop-off location.
- If you're heading to the post office, pick up a customs form 2976-A for each package. You can also fill out the customs form online at the U.S. Postal Service website.
- Pat yourself on the back for raising such a great kid!
- Below are some general ideas of items to send. However, needs vary from unit to unit, so check with your soldier or organization to see what they need most.
Troop Wish List:
Non-perishable snack food: Like nuts, beef jerky, granola bars, candy (no chocolate in the summer), drink mixes, coffee, cookies and crackers—factory-packaged only, which means you can save your slice-and-bake efforts for the PTA sale!
Personal items: T-shirts, picture frames, disposable razors, shampoo, chapstick, non-aerosol air fresheners, foot powders, socks, lotions, body wash.
Recreational items: Playing cards, balls, DVDs (record a favorite show!), board games, current magazines, poker sets, puzzles, word find/crossword games, Frisbees.
Other: Batteries, stationery and pens, greeting cards to send home, disposable cameras, flashlights, plastic cutlery sets, plastic zipper bags, sewing kits.
Do NOT send: Pork, "adult" literature, alcohol, liquid hand sanitizer or anything in an aerosol can.