Sending letters or care packages to deployed servicemembers is an excellent way to show troop support and to let our men and women in uniform know that we care about them and that we haven't forgotten about the sacrifices that they're making on our nation's behalf.
However, I often receive inquiries from military families and civilians asking how they can send care packages to servicemembers when they don't know anyone that's deployed.
Whenever this happens, I always refer them to a fantastic Web site called AnySoldier.com—a place where interested parties can acquire names and addresses of deployed servicemembers along with a list of the unit's needs and wants, which removes a lot of the guesswork about what items to place in a care package.
After a servicemember deploys and has arrived in-country, he or she fills out an application to volunteer as the contact person for the unit and thus agrees to the various terms of service, such as promising to distribute incoming care packages to unit members. Once the application process is complete the contact person submits the unit's requests to AnySoldier.com. For security purposes (OPSEC) the unit's address and other identifying information is not listed for public viewing.
Understanding the Program
It's easy to get caught up in the excitement of sending care packages and inadvertently take on more than you can handle, which can lead you to wonder, "What did I get myself into?" To alleviate any unnecessary stress it's important to understand how the AnySoldier program works prior to embarking on your care package project.
Before you select a recipient for your care packages, Marty and Sue Horn, founders of AnySoldier.com, highly recommend that you read all of the information listed on the AnySoldier home page, followed by reading their comprehensive FAQ page. Additionally, they also have video instructions on how to use the site.
Once you understand how the program works and you're ready to choose a servicemember you can then proceed to the next step of selecting a contact person from the branch that you're most interested in supporting:
- Army - AnySoldier.com
- Marine Corps - AnyMarine.com
- Navy - AnySailor.com
- Air Force - AnyAirman.com
- Coast Guard - AnyCoastGuard.com
Addressing the Care Packages
After you’ve finished adding your items to the care package it's important that you write Attn: Any Soldier (or Sailor, Marine, Airman or Coast Guardsmen) beneath the contact person's name. This lets the servicemember know that the items inside the package are meant for everyone in the unit and that the sender received their name from AnySoldier.com.
Information for Teachers
Many teachers are interested in developing a classroom project that involves the students in creating and sending care packages to deployed troops. If you happen to be an educator or day care provider and are interested in doing this type of activity, AnySoldier.com has an area on their FAQ page that's designed specifically for teachers. Please make sure and read this information before beginning your project.
When Marty and Sue Horn's son Brian deployed to Iraq they sent him numerous care packages on a weekly basis. To their surprise, he asked for more and explained that several members of his unit hadn't received any care packages and he wanted to give them to his fellow soldiers.
In August 2003 the Horn's began AnySoldier.com as a family project meant to supply their son and his comrades with care packages. The project received overwhelming support and in January 2004, AnySoldier.com expanded to include all branches of the Armed Forces. (Please see the About Us page on their Web site for more in-depth information about this amazing family and the heartwarming story behind AnySoldier.)
More Than Care Packages
Besides care packages, Any Solider Inc. is involved in numerous other charitable acts of kindness and giving. For example, they've conducted fund drives for wounded warriors; helped in procuring and importing wheelchairs for disabled Afghani children; and assisted with a project that collected and shipped medical supplies and textbooks to the much-needed Iraqi medical system. Additionally, Sue Horn helps the troops via her Web site, TreatAnySoldier.com, by creating and shipping care packages for people who want to send them but don't have the time to do so.
Donations Welcome and Needed
Any Soldier, Inc. is a registered 501(c)(3) nonprofit and is always seeking donations to help offset operating expenses. A list of how the money is used, along with donation instructions is featured here.
According to their Web site, AnySoldier.com has helped over 2 million servicemembers since August 17, 2003. (This number changes daily. To see an updated figure please go to their home page and select "Statistics of Our Contacts" from the dropdown menu under the "home" tab.)