Sharing Christmas Cheer
Susan provides tips for sending care packages to those you love, and even those you haven't met yet.
CHRISTMAS AWAY FROM HOME: HOW TO ASSEMBLE A CARE PACKAGE
by Susan R. Blaske Williams
There are so many things we can do to share some joy and Christmas cheer with others -- even those living far away or stationed in the military. One of those things is to create and assemble a Christmas care package.
Care packages can be sent to people we know, but they can also be sent to people we don't know through ministries and organizations who specialize in delivering care packages for special causes.
Who are the people to consider? College students, active military personnel away from home, military families home and abroad, prisoners, orphans, missionaries, disaster victims, nursing home residents, hospitalized children, unwed mothers or those in a crisis pregnancy, single parent families, and special friends and relatives who may be living far away.
How do I find mailing addresses for people I don't know? Conduct a search on the internet to look for ministries who distribute care packages to the specific people/groups you would like to reach, and speak to friends at church or in social clubs to ask for names of people who may like to receive a care package. Find out about the local organizations and ministries and ask about specific people you can help. Speak to the social worker at your school to locate a special family or child to bless.
What kinds of things should I include in the care package? This will depend on who will be the recipient of your package. Here are some suggestions:
For military service men or disaster victims, include things like toothpaste, tooth brushes, hand sanitizer, personal wipes, mints and hard candies (avoid things that can melt), combs, soaps, shampoo, lotions, medicine packs (Tylenol, Advil, etc.), vitamin packs, Band-Aids, disposable razors, ear swabs, nail clippers, magazines, crosswords or word puzzles, travel size games, pens, paper, envelopes, prepaid telephone calling cards, Bible, AA batteries, lighters. Liquid items should be in travel size bottles, and the bottles should be labeled if you are using generic bottles, especially for military personnel.
For college students, consider non-perishable food items such as soup mixes, hot cocoa mix, microwave popcorn, a disposable camera, stationery, school supplies such as mini-staplers, notebook paper, calendar, organizers, calculator, etc. If you personally know the college student, you can include family photos, personal keepsakes and gifts, stuffed animals and gift certificates to their favorite restaurants or local grocery stores.
Many prisons do not allow prisoners to receive packages, and those that do have a list of items that are accepted, for safety concerns. You will want to coordinate with a prison ministry to see what the rules for receiving care packages might be. Many prison ministries have pen-pal programs if you prefer this to sending a package.
Many pro-life ministries accept care packages for unwed mothers or those in crisis pregnancies, and they also accept care packages for children. Things like blankets, diapers, teething rings, layette sets, bottles, diaper ointments and wipes are welcomed.
You may also enjoy hosting a party and asking guests to contribute items to your care package --or to help assemble several care packages, including packaging and addressing them.
Here are some places that will help you locate people to send your care packages to, and will accept your care packages as donations for others:
for disaster victims, visit Operation Blessing at http://www.ob.org/programs/disaster_relief/projects/disaster_kit.asp;
for missionaries in the field, visit Love Packages at http://www.lovepackages.org/needed.htm;
for children in need around the world, visit Buckner Orphan Care International at http://www.helporphans.org/give/donationneeds.html;
for prisoners, visit Prison Fellowship at http://www.prisonfellowship.org/;
for a list of recommended items and mailing instructions for overseas military personnel and to sign up to be put in contact with deployed service men and women who may enjoy communicating as well as receiving care packages, visit Operation Military Pride at http://www.operationmilitarypride.org/
Susan R. Blaske Williams is an author, writer and publisher at Making It Home Publications -- including many topics on home, family, business and how to successfully combine all three. Learn more at http://www.makingithomewebzine.com/blog/