How To Prepare a Care Package for Shipping
We always pack hygiene products and food/snack items in separate boxes. Care packages can often take several weeks to be delivered and if the items sit in the same box for long periods, the food absorbs the flavor of the deodorant, shampoo, soap, etc.
All liquids need to be placed in zip lock bags in case of leakage. We place the items in the first bag, seal it, and then place that inside another zip lock bag and seal that as well. Make sure you squeeze all of the air out of the bags in order to conserve space in your box.
Pack the box as solidly as possible since it will be getting bounced around. Black or white ankle socks without logos make good items to fill in small gaps. We try not to ship glass, but when we do we make sure it is wrapped or bagged well to prevent breakage in shipping.
Use heavy duty shipping tape and tape around all seams, edges and on top when sealing the box. We double tape the seams where the flaps meet on the top and bottom of the box.
Write an encouraging note to include with your care package and make sure to include your email address. While we never expect responses from our Soldiers, it's a great feeling when you do get one. Including your email address will greatly increase your chances of hearing from the Soldier to whom you ship. The Soldiers are very busy and many do not have internet access or even a way to send mail very often. Many of them only get 30 minutes a day on a shared computer and they need to spend that time communicating with their families, so please do not be disappointed or discouraged if you do not hear from them. Just know that you made a difference in a Soldier's day and he or she appreciates you!
How to Ship a Care Package
We use large flat rate USPS boxes (12 x 12 x 5) for our care packages. The boxes are free and can be picked up at your local Post Office or ordered at the USPS website and will be delivered to you free of charge.
The cost to ship a large flat rate box is currently $17.35 if you prepare your shipping label online at USPS using Click and Ship. The cost to ship a Regional Rate B box from Florida costs $10.95 each. Please note: Regional Rate B shipping varies upon the location from which you are shipping.
You will need to complete the Customs Form which is PS Form 2976-A and you will also need the 2976-A Form Envelope to enclose the form and attach it to your package. The Customs Form can also be completed online at USPS.com. Manual forms and envelopes can also be picked up at your local post office or you can order them online.
Fill in your name and return address, the Soldier's name and address, the specific contents of the box, value and weight of the contents, and then sign and date the form. In Box 10 of the form, you are asked to specify what is to happen to your box if it is undeliverable to your Soldier. If we don't know another Soldier at that same address, in box 10 we state that the box should be treated as abandoned. This will allow the carrier to leave the care package at the destination you specified and the package will be disbursed to other Soldiers at that location.
USPS requires that you address your care package to a specific Soldier. You cannot mail a package to "Any Soldier," "Any Hero," etc. Your complete name and address is also required in the "From" section and a Soldier's complete name and address is required in the "To" section.
We hope this information has been helpful to you! Instructions are also available at http://www.usps.com/.
Just Our Soldiers' Helpers Inc.