Contents of Care Packages to Deployed Marines


Marines especially like letters, cards, photos of you and your family - anything that will remind your Marine of home.

If you can get hold of your Marine's local newspaper this is especially appreciated photos of your Marine's hometown events and vistas are great.

Kids' drawings and notes many classrooms and Sunday Schools are taking on the project of writing to Marines and other service members how about yours?

Other ideas:

Entertainment Items

  • Bibles - any translation
  • magazines (no porn; "swimsuit" issue is ok; also men's mags that also have articles & not just pix [Maxim, FHM not Playboy or Hustler]; Men's Health, Shape, bodybuilding [male and female], Cosmopolitan, In Style, video gaming, Oprah, computers, Rolling Stone, Time/Newsweek (out of date issues are ok!), skateboarding/etc., People/Hollywood/scandal, cars/trucks/bikes, fishing
  • DVD (all genres but no porn; find a used DVD store and make your money go 5x as far!)
  • CDs (all genres)
  • chess, checkers, cards, dominoes, books of crossword puzzles/word search, books of card games, dart board, ping pong balls, etc.
  • books (all genres, including stuff that would appeal mostly to women, such as romance novels)
  • football, basketball
  • personal DVD/CD players
  • games (cribbage, chess, checkers)
  • deck of cards (and perhaps a book of card games, such as Hoyle's Rules of Games or The U.S. Playing Card Company's Official Rules of Card Games)
  • hand held electronic game consoles and games
  • hobby supplies (Since I teach needleework, I think needlework supplies would be a good choice! Needlework is a splendid way to pass time, and it's also soothing because of the repetitive nature of the movements. I'll bet your Marine would enjoy it, so here's some information on how to make a "kit" of everything your Marine would need to stitch a small project. I'll try to design a chart or two for USMC-slanted bookmarks. Come back!)


  • razors-disposable
  • shave cream
  • foot powder (GoldBond Max Strength) or spray
  • baby wipes
  • liquid hand sanitizer
  • Carmex lip balm
  • sun block SPF45
  • Clorox Disinfecting Wipes
  • toothpaste, toothbrush, dental floss
  • deodorant
  • Skin So Soft (works as insect repellant)
  • Q-tips
  • Vivarin, No Doze (your Marine may be just fine with coffee, tea, or caffeinated sodas, so ask whether these items are needed)
  • soap
  • shampoo, cream rinse, "extra firm" hairspray, gel
  • female hygiene products (panti-liners, tampons; Midol)
  • feminine body products (shower foam, good lotions and moisturizers, facial products - - Bath and Body Works are brand especially enjoyed)
  • acne meds (Clearasil, ProActiv - - with the latter especially appreciated)

    Comfort Items


    Note: Send 100% cotton only; polyester/nylon/other synthetics stick to skin when exposed to high heat or flames. (Yes, this is what you are thinking.)

    Junk Food

    Snack Food


    Don't worry that you might send something the Marine won't like. Items that your Marine can't use are shared or bartered.

    Suggestions for Contents of an All-Purpose Care Package

    If you don't know much about your Marine, and the likelihood is high that this will be so at first, or if you just want to send something to your Marine on a one-time basis, here are some safe items to put in a care package:

    What Not to Send

    No booze, no porn, no chocolate (melts - - drat!), no home-cooked treats (not packed well enough to ward off critters), no photocopied (books, etc.) or "ripped" (CDs, DVDs, etc.) items, no firearms or explosives.

    Unless you know what kind of cooking facilities the Marine has, don't send stuff that should be heated to be palatable. There might not be a microwave available. (Some of our Marines live in very primitive conditions. No electricity, for example - - which also means no air-conditioning.) Room temperature snacks and junk food are the way to go.

    Sending Something Expensive

    If want to send something expensive, such as a DVD player or a laptop computer, there are a few wrinkles in the shipping process....if you want it to get into the hands of your Marine. Expensive things often find their ways into the black market, etc. To help ameliorate this problem - -

    When to Stop Sending Boxes

    This is your choice, of course, but sometimes we don't know when enough is enough. Sometimes the Marine doesn't communicate at all, for whatever reason, and it can be disheartening to send boxes and letters and never hear anything back, not even whether boxes arrived.

    My personal take on this is if I send a box and get no acknowledgement of arrival, I don't send a box to that person again. There are plenty of other Marines! It's not so much a matter of etiquette (though your mother and mine will say it is!) as a matter of mailing a box "into a black hole" and never knowing where it went!

    And that's the problem. There is no guarantee of when the letter or package will arrive. (A postal clerk told me it would be "7-10 days from the West Coast to Iraq". In some unfortunate cases, the stuff is forwarded to the Marine after he/she returns home! This is one reason to pick a Marine (if you use who has a date far in the future to leave the overseas posting). And, of course, as little as we like to imagine it, there are some things that just go astray, never to be seen again and contents unused.

    Presumably when your Marine rotates back to the States, you don't need to send him anything unless you want to send an occasional "giftie", such as a gift certificate that's enough to cover a DVD or CD from an online store.

    Certainly, if you wish to communicate with the Marine after the deployment,cards and letters probably will be much welcomed.

    This presumes, of course, that both you and your Marine would like to keep in touch. Although some young Marines appreciate continuing to hear from their "adopted families," don't feel an obligation to maintain the correspondence with the regularity you kept up while the Marine was deployed. If communication from the other end eventually peters out or you are unable to or don't wish the continue the pen friendship, send a "last letter" and be well-satisfied that you have made a big difference in someone else's life.

    For more information on deployed Marines, see the files on:

    packing boxes for shipment
    sending letters to Marines
    adopting a Marine or a service member in another branch
    easy (free) charts to use in a cross stitch kit

    Semper Fi!

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    Last updated August 22, 2006.