Care Packages for Troops: The life cycle of a Care Package:by Teri Palmer on 11/06/17
MTSP has been sending Care Packages to the Troops since April 2008. The Palmer family liked the idea of sending care packages and the part of our motto came from our daughter. Today we are still sending care packages to our Troops.
So, let’s look at what needs to be done to send one Care Package:
Ø First things first things: Can you afford to send care packages, money to be raised to cover the cost of postage and supplies. Current cost per package is $20 ($17.45 postage / $2.55 supplies – tape, forms ink for printer, paper, etc.) For prospective 100 packages cost $2,000 to mail.
Ø Did you order boxes from the Post Office? Can take up to 10 days for delivery and sometimes you don’t get them all at once. Plan ahead. We try to keep at least 100 boxes on hand. Oh, and don’t forget the custom forms – which also needs to be ordered in advance.
Ø Contact folks who give us addresses to insure Troop addresses are still valid. Folks are good at giving us addresses, but not always good about letting us know when Troops are coming home, hence, follow up , follow up, follow up. This may take several days, and you need to keep calling until you get an answer. Why? It cost $20 per package – whether they come back or not.
Ø You will need 6 or 8 rolls of packaging tape, tape guns, 200-300 several sizes of Ziplock Bags needed for liquid, has a scent or items that can melt, such as Chocolate.
Ø Do you have a location for the packing event? Places like American Legion/JB Hunt Trucking/VFW’s, will need to be reserved for an event. Have you posted when and where the Packing Event will be? Have you printed about 50 – 100 flyers to hand out? Have you asked for donations; items and monetary? (Over time you will need a go-to list for assistance – try not to ask the same org., people, each time.).
Ø Plan how the flyers are to be distributed. Do volunteers know your plan for distribution? Is the event posted on the Cpl Palmer II MTSP Facebook page / has it been shared? Sometimes you need to post it to several different pages. Post in local newspapers Event pages (Tracy, Ripon, Stockton), are there other ways available (businesses…), friends on FB/on-line? We post on 3-4 pages we like.
Ø How are donations going??
Ø Now you have a place, will the host provide refreshments? snacks? If not, you will need to plan to shop for these items or find volunteers willing to help.
Ø Need a team to come early to help set up, bag items, etc. find out who will set up tables and / or take down and if you will need to plan a clean-up team? Who will be making empty care boxes?
Ø Announcements: Thank the hosting entity, welcome special guests (Mayor, etc., speakers are great). Any other announcements. Good time to pass info to our volunteers and others that are interested.
Ø So, by now, you should have placed items on the tables by category, instructions on where to start and direction of packing. Any other info needed while packing.
Ø You and maybe one other should be working the crowd and thanking them for coming; if they need assistance; are “our” volunteers helping others?
More….???? Your work has just begun!
Ø Items needed for each box: labels – you will need to print 2 return address labels (1 for custom form and one for the care pkg) and 2 ship to addresses (1 for custom form – one for the package): 100 care pkgs require 400 labels. Make sure you have all the supplies you will need for printing available.
Ø Custom form for each package – must match the ship to addressee with names on the pkg. Additionally, on the custom form, you must hand write items in the box (in general terms, i.e.: candy – 5+; Toys and clothing – 5+; Personal Hygiene 5+; etc.…) for 100 pkgs must be complete. Each custom form must be signed and dated with the day they ship. Make sure you have set aside enough time for this manual process.
Ø Get to know your local Postmasters, they will help plan when the boxes should be brought to the post office. This helps them to schedule enough people or control work load.
Ø Get them there and say good bye until the next packing event is scheduled. And start all over again!! Therefore, we like to schedule packing events at least 2 weeks apart.
This is just a simplification about what it takes to make sure our Troops get something from home. When you have more Troops than boxes, the hard decision comes to decide who gets one and who doesn’t. Or like now, we have a the Marine SgtMaj of telling us he has 200 men and some females that need care packages. Many times, we fall short of just getting 200 pkgs per month. How do you decide?
Pre-setup takes us (just 2 of us) around 4+ hours a day, many much longer. To prepare for shipping (custom forms, labels, etc. – there is always an etc.) takes another day or more depending on how many pkgs you have. Start to finish, a good part of 2 weeks.