Support our troops this holiday season by sending letters and care packages overseasMail CallTroops Wait to Hear From Friends Back Home

By Lori Hutzler Eckert

It’s a season of celebration, but as the war in Iraq continues, the holiday also can serve as a reminder to extend support to our troops overseas.

Many programs have been developed since 2003 to enable civilians to reach out to the men and women serving in the war. These nonprofit organizations offer opportunities to send e-mails, letters and care packages that can make a real difference in the daily life of a deployed U.S. military serviceperson.

A good place to research options for communicating with the troops is through the U.S. Post Office,, which offers a fact sheet on sending letters and parcels to the military overseas.

Also, informs civilians about items that service personnel request most, including prepaid calling cards, shampoo and soap, socks and protein bars. The site also explains how to send packages, including packing tips, information on custom forms, and where to send them. also offers links to,, and These volunteer efforts make it a priority to put the packages into the hands of personnel who receive little or no mail.

Florida has developed a new way for residents to help servicepeople – by helping their families left behind. A new “Support Our Troops!” specialty license plate will become available statewide in November. The additional $25 paid for the plate will be used to assist the families of active duty troops. Organizers expect the plate to raise about $600,000 each year to help families pay for expenses such as education, car repairs, medical and home expenses, family emergencies and immediate finances.


Operation Dear Abby began as a letter-writing campaign in 1967 to connect deployed troops with civilians. The 40-year effort found a new home online as an e-mail campaign with this site, which is supported in part by the U.S. Department of Defense.
Jeanette Cram has baked more than 450,000 cookies for deployed troops since 1990. Through this Web site, Cram accepts addresses of military personnel, as well as donations to continue this sweet effort. She also offers tips on how to make, pack and ship your own cookies for the troops.
A main feature of this program, which was launched by the Department of Defense, is the “Show Your Support” page, which lists 150 nonprofit organizations dedicated to helping the troops and their families, including contacts for providing tragedy assistance and help for the wounded.

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