Operation Holiday Cheer
Click the photo to see this year's service members.
Remember those who serve & have served
In response to our annual Operation Holiday Cheer promotion, area residents sent us the following names and addresses of their active-duty or injured soldiers. Click here or on the gallery photo on the right to view them all.
Now it’s your turn to get involved by sharing your holiday cheer with our troops who are serving in the military and won't be home for the holidays. It’s a perfect opportunity for adults as well as kids to send cards, letters or packages as a way to thank them for their sacrifices.
Parents and teachers are encouraged to help their children and students participate, and club members are urged to turn this opportunity into a group project. All who get involved are asked to send us pictures of their project, and we’ll post them online.
The U.S. Postal Service offers a free Priority Mail Flat Rate Box for sending packages to military personnel serving overseas. The box measures 12x12x5 1⁄2 inches, and postage is only $14.85, ($2 discount) when used to send to APO/FPO addresses. USPS also offers free package pickup from your home or office. To schedule pickup or for other pickup options, visit usps.com.
There are things to keep in mind when sending packages overseas:
- Temperatures in the desert often exceed 100 degrees.
- The box should be strong.
- Cushion contents with plastic foam or bubble wrap to keep items from shifting. Fragile items should be double-boxed, with cushioning inside and between the boxes to absorb shock.
- Battery-powered items can get switched on during shipping. Remove batteries and wrap them separately.
- To seal the box, tape the opening and reinforce all seams with 2-inch-wide tape, using clear or brown packaging tape, reinforced packing tape or paper tape. Do not use cord, string or twine.
- Print on one side only with the recipient’s address in the lower right portion.
- Use the soldier’s full name.
- The Department of Defense canceled the “Any Service Member” program, so mail must be addressed to someone specific.
- Be sure to include a return address.
- Cover the address with clear tape to protect against moisture.
To ensure delivery of your cards, letters and packages by Dec. 25 to military • APO/FPO/ addresses overseas, the USPS recommends the following deadlines for mailing:
For mail addressed to and from:
- APO/FPO AE Zip Codes 090-092 and 094-098; AA 340; and AP 962-966: Express Mail by Dec. 17. First-Class Mail (cards and letters) and Priority Mail by Dec. 10. Parcel Airlift Mail (PAL) by Dec. 3. Space Available Mail (SAM) by Nov. 26. Standard Post Mail: Nov. 8.
- APO/FPO AE Zip Code 093: Priority Express Mail not available. First- Class Mail (cards, letters and packages), Priority Mail and Parcel Airlift Mail (PAL) by Dec. 3. Space Available Mail (SAM) by Nov. 26. Standard Post Mail: Nov 8.
- Domestic Mail (For ships in port and personnel on shore duty in the U.S. mailing to U.S. destination - not including APO/FPO): First-Class Mail: Dec. 20. Priority Mail: Dec. 20. Priority Express Mail: Dec. 23.
Every country has customs regulations regarding incoming mail. Before sending a letter or package to one of our troops overseas, contact your local post office or phone the Military Postal Service Agency at 800-810-6098.
The two items most requested by soldiers are baby wipes and phone cards (international cards are the best value). Other items that are favorites of our troops are:
- Beef jerky, Slim Jims
- Cereal, instant oatmeal, Pop Tarts
- Chewing gum, hard candy
- Coffee, tea bags, hot cocoa packets, drink mixes
- Cookies, crackers, chips, microwave popcorn, pretzels, nuts (remove from can and seal in plastic bag to save space)
- Dried fruits, trail mixes, granola, cereal bars
- Peanut butter
- Powdered creamer, sugar, sweetener
- Soups (dried or canned)
- Aspirin and Tylenol (sealed)
- Baby powder, foot powder
- Band-Aids, Neosporin
- Combs, brushes
- Eye drops, saline, nasal spray
- Hand and body lotions, face moisturizers
- Shaving gel, razors
- Soap, hand sanitizer, shampoo, conditioner
- Sunscreen, lip balm with sunscreen, bug repellent
- Toothpaste, toothbrushes, dental floss, mouthwash
- Towels, washcloths
- Batteries (mostly AA and AAA), rechargeable batteries with a charger
- CDs, DVDs, iTunes gift cards
- Clothesline, clothespins
- Flat twin sheets
- Flip flops
- Games, cards, video games
- Gym shorts, cotton socks, underwear
- Magazines, books
- Paper, pens, stamps
- Pork or pork products
- Anything that can melt
- Homemade baked goods (military rule for soldiers’ safety)
- Aerosol cans or glass containers
FREE PHONE CALLS | For your soldier
- VFW Operation Uplink provides Free Calls Days, which are 24-hour periods when all calls made from any of the more than 450 MWR (SPAWAR) Internet Cafes in Afghanistan or Kuwait and other Middle East locations are free for active-duty service members.
- The Free Call Days program provides service members a morale boosting and vital connection with family and friends while eliminating the financial burden many can’t afford.
- At least three scheduled dates are provided each month and run midnight to midnight based on Eastern Standard Time. Visit www.vfw.org/NMS for the current schedule.
- or those service members who don’t have access to the cafes or are stationed outside of Afghanistan/Kuwait, provide the unit’s contact information and Operation Uplink will see that they’re taken care of through other available options.