December 7, 2015, Washington – Ensuring those serving in the nation’s armed forces and diplomatic service receive their presents, care packages and cards in time for the holidays is a priority for the U.S. Postal Service and for friends and family members of military and diplomatic personnel serving around the world.
To send packages to loved ones serving in the military abroad, the Postal Service offers a discount on its largest Priority Mail Flat Rate Box at $13.80 (online) and $15.90 (retail). The price includes a $2 per box discount for mail sent to APO/FPO/DPO (Air/Army Post Office/Fleet Post Office/Diplomatic Post Office) destinations worldwide.
To ensure timely delivery of holiday wishes by Dec. 25, the Postal Service recommends that cards and packages be sent to military APO/FPO/DPO addresses overseas no later than the mailing dates listed below.
* 1 PMEMS is available to selected military/diplomatic Post Offices. Check with your local Post Office to determine if this service is available to an APO/FPO/DPO address.
* 2 PAL is a service that provides air transportation for parcels on a space-available basis. PAL is available for Standard Post items not exceeding 30 pounds in weight or 60 inches in length and girth combined. The applicable PAL fee must be paid in addition to the regular surface price for each addressed piece sent by PAL service.
* 3 SAM parcels are paid at Standard Post prices with maximum weight and size limits of 15 pounds and 60 inches in length and girth combined. SAM parcels are first transported domestically by surface and then to overseas destinations by air on a space-available basis.
Use the Military Care Kit to Send Presents and Care Packages
The Postal Service has created a free Military Care Kit based on the items most frequently requested by military families. The kit contains:
• Two Priority Mail APO/FPO/DPO flat rate boxes.
• Two Priority Mail Medium flat rate boxes.
• Priority Mail tape.
• Priority Mail address labels.
Appropriate Customs Forms
To order the kit, call 800-610-8734. Guidelines for packing, addressing and shipping items to U.S. troops can be found at USPS.com. To order flat-rate boxes featuring the “America Supports You” logo, go to hte USPS online store.
Addressing the Package
• Write out the service member’s full name in the address.
• Include the unit and APO/FPO/DPO address with the 9-digit ZIP Code (if one is assigned). For example:
Army/Air Post Office (APO)
PFC JOHN DOE
PSC 3 BOX 4120
APO AE 09021
Fleet Post Office (FPO)
SEAMAN JOSEPH SMITH
UNIT 100100 BOX 4120
FPO AP 96691
Diplomatic Post Office (DPO)
UNIT 8400 BOX 0000
DPO AE 09498-0048
• Do not write the country name where the service member is stationed in the address.
• Include a return address.
• Include the service member’s name and address as well as the sender’s name and address on an index card inside the package in case the shipping label gets damaged in transit.
Domestic Mailing Deadlines
* Special Note: Some Muslim countries (such as Saudi Arabia) have laws against displaying Christian symbols. Please keep that in mind when sending cards and letters to the Persian Gulf (Southwest Asia). You’ll not want to use envelopes with Christmas decorations on them as customs may refuse to allow them to enter the country.
A Soldier’s Wish List
Are you needing some help deciding what to send to your loved ones in their care package? Here are just a few idea of items that we know would be most appreciated:
• Microwave Popcorn
• Chips (hard containers like Pringles)
• Fritos Peanuts
• Sunflower seeds
• Slim Jim’s
• Granola Bars
• Power Bars/Energy Bars
• Store Cookies
• Girl Scout Cookies
• Instant Oatmeal (all flavors)
• Crackers with peanut butter/cheese
• M&M’s (plain or peanut)
• Hard Candy Gum
Personal Care Items
• Tooth Brushes
• Hand Sanitizes
• Boot Inserts (trimable)
• Chap Stick/Lip Balm
• Nail Clippers
• Disposable Razors (2x Blades)
• Wicking athletic socks (dark calf length)
• Cotton calf length socks
• Non-scented foot powders
• Anti-fungal cream
• Blister pads Moleskin
• Odor eaters Gel-in-soles
• DVD movies
• D Batteries
• AA Batteries
• AAA Batteries
• Mist fans w/batteries
• Ziploc Baggies (all sizes)
• iTunes gift cards
Please pack items in packages, or hard outer containers or boxes. You want to make sure that the items make it to your loved ones in one piece, right? Please avoid sending plain chocolate-type sweets. Remember, chocolate melts!!! Also, please include a holiday card or letter. Your loved ones would LOVE to hear from you!
Programs to Help Military Families and Show Our Support
Full Circle Home helps troops send their holiday gifts and love notes to their Heroes at Home. These gift packages allow them to express their gratitude and recognize the sacrifices made by those at home. This connection provides encouragement and support for both those at home and those overseas, because the whole family is affected by a deployment.
Operation Christmas Spirit supports local military families in the form of holiday gratitude by allowing you to: “adopt” over 100 families and fulfilling their Christmas wish lists with gifts for all family members and gift cards to do their own shopping; sponsor gifts and crafts at unit holiday parties; “adopt” single Marines and Sailors, giving them gifts and gifts cards to celebrate whether near or far from their families; and work with businesses, schools, churches, small groups and individuals who want to spread the joy of Christmas to those who serve our country.
Operation Holiday Joy Donate to Operation Holiday Joy and 100% of your donation goes to food and toys this holiday season and you can designate your donation to a specific program. Any contribution is greatly appreciated and will make a difference for a military family.
Operation Homefront offers programs for military families throughout the year during difficult financial times by providing food assistance, auto and home repair, vision care, travel and transportation, moving assistance, essential home items, and financial assistance. Christmas is no exception!!!
Soldiers’ Angels provides aid and comfort to the men and women of the United States Army, Marines, Navy, Air Force, Coast Guard, their families, and a growing veteran population. Thousands of Soldiers’ Angels “Angel” volunteers assist veterans, wounded, deployed personnel, and their families in a variety of unique and effective ways. Blanket drives and holiday card programs are just a few of the programs they have running.
Toys for Tots aims to collect new, unwrapped toys during October, November and December each year, and distribute those toys as Christmas gifts to less fortunate children in the community in which the campaign is conducted. The program is for all children, including military kids. The primary goal of Toys for Tots is to deliver, through a new toy at Christmas, a message of hope to less fortunate youngsters that will assist them in becoming responsible, productive, patriotic citizens.
Trees for Troops believes that every family needs a Christmas tree and Tree for Troops, sponsored by the Christmas Spirit Foundation, offers free Christmas trees for military families. Help share the Christmas spirit by sending a tree!!!
Wreaths Across America coordinates wreath laying ceremonies on a specified Saturday in December at Arlington, as well as veterans’ cemeteries and other locations in all 50 states and beyond. They organize a week of events including international veteran’s tributes, ceremonies at State Houses and a week-long “Veteran’s Parade” between Maine and Virginia. They also coordinate veteran services and recognition through a variety of programs, and provide schools with teaching aides for projects throughout the year.
Holiday Mail for Heroes continues to be conducted in local communities across the U.S. There is no longer a national Holiday Mail for Heroes P.O. Box to which cards are sent. Local Red Cross offices will collect, sort, and distributing the holiday cards using an events-based approach in their local communities. Local Red Cross offices will hold events to sign or make holiday cards, schedule card-sorting times, and coordinate card delivery to the military, vets and families in their communities. These changes will allow local Red Cross offices to concentrate on reaching out to the members of the military, veterans and families in their community – neighbors helping neighbors.
Homefront America Christmas programs help to make the holiday a little brighter for military families. Their Christmas Toy Store offers parents of military children the opportunity to “shop” at the Toy Store at NO COST to them, while their children enjoy lunch with Santa and his Elves, arts and crafts, activities, face painting, and caroling.