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'Any servicemember' gifts can't be delivered, but there are alternatives (please read/pass on)
Stars and Stripes ^ | December 10, 2004 | Jessica Inigo

Posted on 12/13/2004 8:33:27 PM PST by Former Military Chick

’Tis the season to be cautious.

The Department of Defense has sent out a message reminding well-wishers that holiday gifts mailed to “Any Servicemember” will not be delivered to troops this holiday season, citing transportation constraints.

“During this time of year, the number of donation programs increase and causes mail from families and friends to be mixed with mail from unknown sources resulting in delivery delays,” according to a DOD news release.

Although packages must be sent to troops by specific name to be delivered, there still are ways for “Secret Santas” to spread some holiday cheer. The Army and Air Force Exchange Service is sponsoring two programs — Gifts From the Homefront and Help Our Troops Call Home — to boost troop morale without compromising security or straining military postal workers.

Gifts From the Homefront works like gift certificates, which deployed troops can use to buy merchandise at any AAFES exchange, including the 29 in Iraq, 10 in Kuwait and five in Afghanistan.

For more information on the program, go to or call 1-877-770-4438 (there is a charge if calling from outside the United States) to purchase the gift certificate. The certificates are then donated to “Any Servicemember” through the United Services Organization, American Red Cross, or other military specific organization.

The Help Our Troops Call Home program gives deployed troops phone cards to call loved ones over the holiday season. These cards can be used at any of the 60 AAFES call centers in Iraq and Afghanistan. They also can be purchased at or by calling 1-800-527-2345, and when prompted by the recorded message pressing 1.

In addition to the AAFES programs, there are many Web-based programs available.

Some gift-giving sites include:, to send a virtual card or holiday note;, which makes authorized USO care packages for deployed troops;, which provides calling cards to troops through the Veterans of Foreign Wars organization; or visit the Support Our Troops section at for ideas on how to donate holiday cheer.

- - - - - - - -

  Stars and Stripes
 Some ways to support servicemembers

America Supports You
New Defense Dept. program showcases America's support for its servicemembers.

Defend America
Department of Defense site with news and support links

Operation Dear Abby — Noted advice columnist's site for sending "any servicemember" messages.

Fallen Heroes Last Wish Foundation — Provides funds to help support and educate the children of American servicemembers lost during Operation Iraqi Freedom.

Fisher House"Comfort homes" on the grounds of major military and VA medical centers, where family members can be close to a loved one during the hospitalization for an unexpected illness, disease, or injury.

Homes for our Troops — Building specially-adapted homes for severely disabled soldiers and their families.

USA Freedom Corps — Make a difference by volunteering. Web site gives you many options.

USO Care packages — Sponsor a care package that includes requested items such as pre-paid worldwide phone cards, sunscreen, travel-size toiletries, and personal messages.

Armed Services Blood Program — Supplies blood and blood products for the 1.3 million servicemembers and their families around the globe. Here's information on how you can help.

Wounded warrior hospital fund — To provide quality-of-life items for wounded servicemembers at Landstuhl.

Voices from HomeAllows serving military members and their families and friends to send and receive immediate voice e-mail messages.

Military Moms — Message boards, chat rooms, ways to donate items, information on the military, and much more; a project organized by mothers of servicemembers.

Operation Air Conditioner — A military mother's effort to send needed air conditioners (and in the winter, heaters) and other items to troops in the Middle East.

VFW's Operation Uplink — Purchases phone cards and distributes them to servicemembers.

Operation Military Pride — Volunteer organization, founded by military spouses, sends cards, letters and care packages to troops. Also distributes names and addresses of participating servicemembers for people wishing to send messages or gifts directly.

Operation Package
Send a gift to the 1st Battalion, 9th Infantry Regiment "Manchus" of the U.S. Army's 2nd Infantry Division.

Operation Cards for Troops
Hand-written cards sent to servicemembers.

Books for Soldiers
Ships books, DVDs and supplies to deployed soldiers and soldiers in VA hospitals, via a large volunteer network.

Adopt a Soldier
Support the wounded, injured, and ill troops at Walter Reed Army Medical Center.

Adopt a Platoon — Several programs, including Operation Holiday Eagle (to send boxes of candy canes to forces deployed to Iraq, Kuwait, Afghanistan, the Balkans and Korea). — Information on the Middle East for troops and their families and friends.

Blue Star Mothers of America — Group founded by servicemembers' moms during WWII. Site has links to several support programs.

Soldiers Angels — "Adopt" a servicemember or send along a gift. A wide-ranging foundation started by a soldier's mom.

Operation Give — Coordinates the collection and distribution of toys and other items for Iraqi children

Operation Shoe Box — Their goal: "A package for every soldier, sailor, airman, and Marine" deployed overseas.

Operation Call Home — Goal: A satellite phone for every platoon in Iraq

Apppreciate our — If you buy a mug, a servicemember will get one, too. Also, post photos.

Treat the Troops — Home-baked cookies for servicemembers.

SI Yellow Ribbon — From southern Illinois, sending packages, cards and letters to the troops

Operation Enduring Response — a Texas Red Cross chapter's program enabling kids to write letters which are then delivered to the troops.

Defend America messages — At this Defense Dept. Web site, a way to send a "thank you" note to the troops.

Attn: Any Soldier — Seeks donations of hand warmers, inflatable pillows, all-weather and emergency blankets, antibacterial wipes and Beanie Babies for soldiers to give to Iraqi tots.

Freedom packages — Items for troops in overseas combat zones.

Kitchen Table Gang — Encourages sending care packages, phone cards and items like magazine or newspaper subscriptions to hospitalized veterans and troops.

Operation Hero Miles — An effort by several airlines allowing the public to donate frequent flyer miles to troops coming home for emergencies or R&R.

Operation Military Care — The U.S. War Dogs Association's project devoted to supporting the hundreds of American war dogs and their handlers in Iraq.

Gifts From the Homefront — AAFES' project turns donations into gift certificates the troops can use to shop at the 24 exchanges operating in the Persian Gulf area or elsewhere around the world.

Gift of Groceries — DECA's program provides gift certificates that can be used at commissaries. Family members can also use them at bases back home.

Operation SAND Box — Started by two 13-year-olds, "adopt a soldier" program gets supplies and messages to the troops.

Operation Soldier Support — Puts you in contact with participating servicemembers, so you can send messages and gifts.

Operation Gold Bridge — Seeking school supplies for Iraqi schools. (Story has contact information.) — Send messages to the troops.

Marine Moms — Support page for friends and relatives of Marines. — Send "fan mail" to servicemembers.

Treats for troops — Servicemembers sign up for goodies from home. — Letters and care packages prepared and shipped by volunteers.

Carolina Troop Supporters — A student-led organization devoted to supporting the U.S. armed forces

Treat Any Soldier — Care packages for soldiers serving in harm's way.

Operation Letters from Home — "Adopt" a deployed or wounded servicemember.

Request for medical supplies addressed to the stateside medical community.

Operation Show Time — "Sky Soldiers" of the 173rd Airborne send DVDs to the troops.

If you know of any other programs that you think should be considered for listing here, or to tell us about a problem with these links, please e-mail

The appearance of hyperlinks does not constitute endorsement by Stars and Stripes or the Department of Defense of these Web sites or the information, products or services contained therein. Some descriptions of the programs are taken from the organizations' Web sites.


The mail situation ...

Stripes has gotten many requests from people asking about the rules for sending mail to servicemembers overseas. Here's more information:

Defense Department press release

Story clarifying status of "e-mail" programs

Story about government's suggestions on ways to help troops

TOPICS: Front Page News; News/Current Events
KEYWORDS: carepackages; iraq; supportourtroops
I really hope many will see this wonderful article and pass it along to friends and family. If we all do our part not only will the troops feel the kindness of their fellow American's but so will their families. There are some wonderful links to share your talents with.
1 posted on 12/13/2004 8:33:27 PM PST by Former Military Chick
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To: Former Military Chick

Thanks for this info. Our school is collecting items as we speak.

2 posted on 12/13/2004 8:36:14 PM PST by P.O.E. (Thank you, Vets!)
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To: Former Military Chick; 68-69TonkinGulfYachtClub

Ping to a helpful thread.

3 posted on 12/13/2004 8:37:28 PM PST by Radix (The perfect Tag Line is coming soon, after a brief word from our sponsors.)
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To: Former Military Chick

So many worthy causes...which to choose?

4 posted on 12/13/2004 8:38:18 PM PST by No Longer Free State (If integrity does not reside in the captain of the ship, then it is not on board)
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To: Former Military Chick; All
Will You help keep the Candle Lit for our service men and women?
Can you spare a few moments today to either
e-mail them or learn about sending packages to them?
Many of them are away from home for the 1st time.
PLEASE Click on the graphic and help cheer them up.
You will stay right where you are on this thread while you write them.

5 posted on 12/13/2004 8:43:57 PM PST by 68-69TonkinGulfYachtClub (Have you said Thank You to a service man or woman today?)
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To: Former Military Chick

Thanks for posting this. We are sending phone cards & care packages in honor of every member of our family that will be gathered around our Christmas tree. While we are unwrapping gifts, we will be thinking about our troops and hoping Santa will be able to fill all their stockings.

We did this last Christmas & it just felt so good to know we were doing "something" for our troops who are sacrificing so much for us.

6 posted on 12/13/2004 8:58:44 PM PST by nana4bush
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To: Former Military Chick

Thank you so much for all the information. I'll pass it on. :)

7 posted on 12/13/2004 9:21:49 PM PST by NRA2BFree
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To: Former Military Chick


8 posted on 12/13/2004 9:42:18 PM PST by Just Lori (Before you can win the peace, you have to win the WAR!!!)
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To: Former Military Chick

A P.S.:

We will show the moveoners (and I really wish they WOULD), and the Moore-onics, the women in black (God help them) and ALL the rest of the like-minded idiots WHAT THIS COUNTRY IS REALLY MADE OF!!!!! What happened to the troops coming home from Vietnam, WILL NOT HAPPEN AGAIN!!! (Ok, I think I'm done....for now.....)

9 posted on 12/13/2004 9:47:42 PM PST by Just Lori (Before you can win the peace, you have to win the WAR!!!)
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To: Chieftain; Ragtime Cowgirl; gatorbait; GreyFriar; americanmother; The Mayor; Seadog Bytes; ...

helping the troops ping

10 posted on 12/13/2004 11:08:22 PM PST by Former Military Chick (For News All Military check out:
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To: Spanaway Lori

Thanks Lori for your thoughtful comments. I firmly believe we should do all we can to honor our troops.

Two years ago, not only did we sent items overseas but a family's home in Lawton OK burned down the week before Christmas. The fire department was doing what they could to get volunteers and items for the family, they lost everything and there were kids and they had no money. My husband and I bought them a tree, stuff for the tree, toys for the kids, items for the kitchen, food for Christmas meal. It was a good feeling to help a fellow American. If the situation called for it again I would do so.

11 posted on 12/13/2004 11:14:48 PM PST by Former Military Chick (For News All Military check out:
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To: P.O.E.
Our school is collecting items as we speak.

It's too late to mail in time for Christmas to Iraq or Afghanistan, but you could contact Camp Pendleton, near San Diego, California, from which many Marines deploy to the war zones.

12 posted on 12/13/2004 11:53:20 PM PST by patriciaruth (They are all Mike Spanns)
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To: grizzfan


13 posted on 12/14/2004 4:17:30 PM PST by Former Military Chick (For News All Military check out:
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To: Former Military Chick

ping it again, Sam

14 posted on 12/14/2004 8:30:22 PM PST by No Longer Free State (If integrity does not reside in the captain of the ship, then it is not on board)
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