USE ZIP LOC BAGGIES: Pack all items in zip-loc type baggies before you pack them into your sturdy cardboard box. This protects your package contents and the contents of other care packages should a product open, break or melt (chap sticks and deoderants can melt--zip them up in a plastic bag please!) For food items, chocolate melts! Be careful sending chocolate bars, or cookies containing or coverd with chocolate.
DO NOT COMBINE SOAP/TOILETRIES WITH FOOD ITEMS IN THE SAME PACKAGE! Many returning Marines have reported that food items taste like soap, shaving cream, and/or deoderant when food items are shipped with toiletries. Please pack your food items separate from all toiletries!
AVOID PACKING PEANUTS: The Marines have asked us not to use packing peanuts to as packing material. Because of the heat and static cling, they are almost impossible to clean up.
RE-USABLE PACKING MATERIALS: Use those little plastic-wrapped packages of ten tissues for packing material; it helps to cushion other items in the package, the tissues are dry even after your Marine has packed them around in their pocket for a couple days, and they can use it for toilet paper which is in short supply in many places! Use those worthless, plastic grocery sacks for packing material; they're plentiful here, and useful over there! I've heard: Pack homemade cookies with a slice of bread to keep them fresher. Air-popped popcorn as a packaging material helps keep cookies from breaking.
BOXES AND PACKING TAPE: Use sturdy cardboard boxes to ship your items. Avoid using recycled boxes that may be damaged, torn, or punctured. Use clear packing tape to seal all openings of the box. Avoid using masking tape, scotch tape or duct tape to seal closures (it does not hold up as well as clear packing tape in hot climates or under extreme conditions).
ADDRESSES AND LABELS: Use large, block print for your Marine's address. Use a dark, permanent magic marker to write with if possible. Cover the address with clear packing tape to avoid smearing or illegible addresses in case of contact with moisture or water.
PACKAGING TIPS: Use plastic bags with zip-style closures for everything (like ziploc™ bags). They keep out sand, they keep out rain. VERY USEFUL ITEMS and our resourceful Marines are re-using them for all sorts of things. Quart size are great to keep their wallets and personal photos with them, in one of their many pockets, and they stay dry. If you're shipping a liquid (shampoo, eye drops), or items that are likely to melt or drip (Chapstick, deoderants, chocolate) be sure to pop it into a tightly sealed plastic bag first. That will help keep the rest of the items from getting gooey or ruined, just in case.
TIME TO ARRIVE: Packages are taking between 21-28 days to arrive. Smaller packages arrive in less time. When you take your package to the postal facility to ship, you pay for shipping to either NY or CA and you can select priority mail. However, once the package is in the hands of the military, they will prioritize when the packages are delivered. I am not aware of any organization that subsidizes cost of mailing care packages; if anyone has ideas, please let me know.
PACKAGE SIZE: Keep the packages small in size and under 5 pounds in weight. Larger packages take longer to be delivered and are more cumbersome for your Marine to haul around. Smaller, more frequent packages are your best option. I had been using 12x9x4 boxes and those were probably on the verge of being large, so I switched to the #4 priority boxes, which is about an 8 or 9" cube. The Marine Corps says "No bigger than a shoe box" is the best size.
STRATEGY FOR QUICKER DELIVERY: Use SMALL boxes; they are arriving quicker. Keep them under 5 lbs. I used SMALL padded envelopes to put what I consider 'critical', eyedrops, chapstick, a candy bar. Mailers and large envelopes arrive with less delay than boxes.
ORIGINAL PACKAGING: Keep products and food in the ORIGINAL MANUFACTURER'S wrap and/or box to facilitate quicker inspections and final delivery.
ADDRESS THE PACKAGE TO YOUR MARINE: Care packages and mail that are addressed to "Marine" without a name and company association are not allowed. Ship your care package to your specific Marine. There was a rumor that the packages were being detained in the U.S. It's just a rumor. The packages do go through customs and you will be required to complete a customs form.
HOME-BAKED GOODS AND RECIPES: Home-baked is frequently requested and difficult to ship! Sealing the home-baked goods with a heavy-duty "seal-a-meal" system will help retain freshness. Cookies and brownies are about the only thing that travel well; banana bread gets moldy long before it arrives. Nestle USA's baking products has a section on their web site that provides great tips for making and sending homemade treats, as well as "desert safe recipes". Visit their web site at www.verybestbaking.com.
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