When my soldier is overseas, I send prays of support his way, write him letters, send emails and Skype with him when he’s available. I also like to send him care packages, shipping items he may need, or just a touch of home to keep him connected while so far away.

Whether deployed to the Middle East or temporarily stationed in South Korea, I’ve sent my husband his favorite Twizzlers, brown sugar cinnamon Pop Tarts, heavy duty hiking socks, and pictures drawn by his boys to hang on the walls in his overseas hooch.

In the past I’ve packed cassette tapes with recordings of messages from home. As technology has changed, I’ve since sent him an mp3 player loaded with his favorite music. When deployed to the Sinai Peninsula in the early ‘90s, he recorded his unit on VHS tapes and sent them home.

During his last deployment I sent him a lovely, very durable, able-to-fall-down-an-Afghan-mountainside-and-still-keep-working camera to record photos and videos of his time in the region.

How do I know what to send my soldier? Usually he sends me a note asking for specific supplies. I might tuck in a few extra goodies from home, as space permits in the USPS flat rate boxes. I’m not too creative when it comes to sending out boxes, though.

I’ve been overwhelmed with just filling out the customs forms needed to accompany each care package I’ve sent. Yikes!

When my husband was deployed years ago, I let my boys pick out their favorite candies, then boxed up all of the extras they’d collected and shipped them for my husband to share with his soldiers.

If I were more forward thinking, we could have packed the candy in Halloween printed sandwich bags for easier sharing.

While searching for soldier support ideas on the Internet, I’ve come across entire Pinterest boards dedicated to creative care packages ideas.

Family members have prepared themed boxes, lined with scrapbook paper and decorated with stamps and stickers. A holiday box sent for Thanksgiving delivery could be lined with cut-out leaves and turkeys, and filled with a cornucopia of individually wrapped feasting supplies.

We were so blessed with support during our last deployment that the chaplain had to ask people to stop sending boxes of support to the unit. The unit simply ran out of storage space for the general use items that were sent. What a good “problem” for them to experience – too MUCH support!

As our levels of deployed units decrease, groups which previously sent care packages to deployed units can continue supporting soldiers and their families at home by working with local military support organizations.

Church and school groups may be able to support programs such as the USO, Armed Services YMCA, Operation Homefront, and Fort Hood Santa’s Workshop.

Whether our soldiers are away or at home, we can prepare care packages and other support that show our appreciation for them and our mission.

Karin Markert is an Army spouse and Herald correspondent who lives at Fort Hood.

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