Tuesday, October 30, 2007

It's Up To You, Yeah, You

Last week, we talked about the care package project. Let's review:
The following items are of great use to the deployers:

Black/brown t-shirts and black socks
crystal light packets
individual size beef jerky
energy bars
lip balm
sun screen
foot powder
baby wipes
hand/antibacterial soap
individually wrapped hard candy
phone cards
blank greeting cards/letter writing materials
sunflower seeds
assorted snack items

You can send some items, all these items, a case of any one kind of item. They will be grateful for what you send, regardless. Also: they especially want hand sanitizer and baby wipes.

Not on the list: I have heard that eye drops are also prized. Books are also great.

My contact with the program, who shall remain charmingly anonymous and not a person I made myself, says also:

We also have a program for our families called Operation Sweet Dreams. In this program the family member sends us a digital photo, we transfer to a pillowcase and the family gives to the deployed member to take with them or is sent to the deployed location. With that we would need plain white pillow cases.

Donations can be dropped off or mailed to:
Airman & Family Readiness Center
706 Washington Ave
Bldg 10122
Vandenberg AFB, CA 93437

Ah, memories! Remember the next thing that happened was California caught on fire? Did you feel torn? With my teeny budget, I did, because I wanted to help. While there's still a whole lot to talk about with regard to what happened in the wake of the wildfires, let's focus a minute on the care package project. A year ago, I assembled care packages for two Marines as part of Coalition of the Swilling's project. The thinking, shopping and packaging for the mail was a huge challenge for me and I enjoyed thinking about the needs of someone I could only imagine.
Were it truly up to me, I'd mail them tickets home on Air Jamaica, but one doesn't always get to choose the best gift options, and nowhere in the Hammacher Schlemmer catalog does one find a six-pack of Skillful MidEast Diplomats, which is what these kids truly need. Yesterday, I sent out an email to a handful of my favorite people, asking the musical question, "What should I send them? How shall I send them?" I got a few responses but for the most part, even my very favorite people do not at all want to talk about this, which is interesting but not surprising. Here's what I've got so far.

beef jerky
eye drops
nail clippers
lip balm
writing paper/envelopes
instant coffee
instant foods
bungee cords/giant twist ties
magnets/wall hooks
foot care stuff
herbed salt
scotch/duct tape
unscented moisturizer
puzzle magazine
Rolling Stone/People/Ya got me, what?
deck of cards

The contents of that list have settled with time. Last year's project was a box sent to a specific person with one name and one probable set of needs. This year, this box goes to a place where people will sort what they receive and re-package. It's a different animal. Last year, I was inclined to include crayons and a coloring book. This year, I wrote a note to Martha Stewart's foundation, asking if they'd like to donate - say - thousands of white pillowcases to the Sweet Dreams project.

Then, of course, there's only so much a person can do. Let's not allow ourselves to get overwhelmed. I'm interested in you, now. I'm sending out a box this morning, and I'll send another in a couple of weeks. Will you join me?



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