How One Community Sent 100+ Care Packages to Deployed Troops (and you can too!)

How One Community Sent 100+ Care Packages to Deployed Troops (and you can too!)

Posted by Hannah Fleace on Nov 25th 2019

Remember being a little kid at Christmas time?

Unpacked Boxes

You wake up on Christmas morning and zip down the stairs in your pajamas. You see a spread of stockings and presents all neatly laid out by Santa. You look at the Christmas plate and see CRUMBS where cookies had been the night before. The beer milk is gone too! You can barely contain your excitement. You scan the room looking for that one big present you asked for. And there, tucked under the tree, is [insert beloved toy]! It’s all you can do not to scream with delight.

It’s almost a universal feeling – the feeling of surprise and delight. Not knowing if Santa remembered what you asked for when you sat on his lap at the mall. Not sure exactly what you’ll find under the tree but hopeful.

As most of you know, Christmas can look very different in the military. For families that are too far to travel home or who have a loved one deployed, the holidays can be a difficult time. Occasionally you hear a great story about a holiday surprise. And I’ve got a good one today. And not only that, but we’ve got tips on how you can pull off a holiday surprise too!

Completed care packages

Alyra Cibrian is an Air Force mom. Her son, Adrian, is deployed overseas. She and a group of volunteers with their American Legion put together 100 care packages to send to her son’s squadron.

She is part of the Blue Star Moms and Imperial Valley Patriotic Planning Committee, which are parts of her local American Legion. Every year they put together care packages to send to deployed service members. Last year the group sent 150 boxes to a group in the Army.

“We began asking for items in the care packages about three weeks ago,” Cibrian said. “Most of the items were donated by members of the community. We advertised through social media – especially Facebook.”

Each box was $13 to mail, so they needed to raise $1300. Her local police, sheriff’s office, and district attorney’s office covered nearly all of that expense. Cibrian is a law enforcement officer and said many of her colleagues are veterans. 

Packing was open to the community. They were finished in under an hour with help from 20 volunteers!

They mailed 65 care packages for men and 15 for females in her son’s squadron.

"Girly" Boxes

“A local girl scout troop drew on the outside to make them look “girly” like hearts and stars,” Cibrian said. “Those [15] are for the females.”

They also had local elementary school kids decorate the inside of the boxes and write little notes. All the boxes sent for her son’s squadron were addressed to him, and he’ll hand them out. For the remaining 20 boxes, they asked community members if they have friends or family members deployed with an address for shipping.

Cirbrian said military life is difficult as a mom, but helping create these care packages helps.

Volunteers

“It is hard not seeing him and missing holidays once again,” she said, “But how proud I am supersedes any sadness I feel.”

As a senior in high school, her son was in the delayed entry program for the Air Force.

“Like most parents, I wanted him to go to college, not the military, but if you can’t beat them, join them,” she said. “I opted to be supportive. I wanted my son to go to BMT stress-free without feeling any burden that we did not want him to join.”

Now, she’s a proud Air Force mom.

As an F-16 crew chief, he often works 12-hours shifts. Her advice to moms struggling with having a child in the military is to keep things upbeat and communicate.

“Be supportive and “hide” your sadness,” she advises. “Well, at least I do because I feel if my son knew how I really feel, it could make him second guess himself and not be focused 100% on his duties. We need our military to be focused and not have to worry about things at home.”

Something else she recommends families do is become an Auxiliary member for the American Legion.

“I was not in the military, but you can become an Auxiliary member if you have a spouse, parent, or child in the military. Reach out to an American Legion or any other Veterans non-profit groups.” 

Below is the list that Alyra and her community used:

Baby wipes

Clorox wipes

Wet wipes

Gum

Chapstick

Q-tips

Hand Sanitizer

Instant Coffee 3 packs per box

Hot Cocoa 3 packs per box

Tuna Packets

Tajin

Toothbrushes

Toothpaste

Dental Floss

Protein Bars 3/box

Energy Bars 3/box

Nuts 3/box

Trail Mix 3/box

Candy (no chocolate) 3/box

Decks of Cards

Letters

Thumb Drive

Advil

Feminine Hygiene Products

Midol


Tips for making your own batch of care packages

If you’re considering sending a large batch of boxes to send to troops stationed overseas, start in your neighborhood.

  • See if local businesses would consider sponsoring a few boxes. Figure out how much one box will cost to put together and ask for that amount of money. If they don’t want to donate money, give them your list of supplies and see if they want to put together their own box!
  • Check with local churches. Many churches have outreach programs that ramp up during the holiday season. See if any of the local parishes in your town would sponsor a box or donate items to send.
  • Go to your local city council or chamber of commerce. They might be willing to fundraise or allot some money to help put together packages – especially if the person(s) you’re sending boxes to were local!
  • Ask organizations if they’d like to pitch in — book clubs, Boy and Girl Scout Troops, veteran-oriented groups, etc.
  • Donate through our site. If you don’t have the time to campaign for care packages, you can donate care packages through our website or design a custom care package to deliver wherever you want it to go.

If you’re not sure when to send out your care packages, see our guide here to know when to ship!

For many, those feelings of anticipation and delight on Christmas morning will be dampened by distance.

“It’s important to send care packages because it is the holidays, and for many, it is hard to be away from home,” Cibrian said. “Receiving these packages is a reminder that the community remembers them, and we are grateful for their sacrifices and their service.”

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