Discover the origin of care packages, plus great tips and ideas for putting together your own DIY care packages to send to friends, family, or “special someones.”
Love Sent in a DIY Care Package
Without a doubt care packages laden with sweets and salty snacks elicit excitement—not to mention a twinge of hunger for college students, military personnel, first responders, and of course, friends and relatives located far from home.
They are a welcome sight, indeed, with a long history of helping and supporting those in need.
So it’s no wonder why this “love in a box” has endured for many, many years.
Care Packages: 75 Years Old and Going Strong
It’s true. Care packages have a long and interesting history. In fact, the first noted care packages started out as a box filled with food staples around 1945.
It was an original concept and part of a humanitarian effort during World War II on the part of the Cooperative for American Remittances to Europe (CARE) who came up with the perfect solution for stateside folks to help their European friends and relatives who were most at risk of starvation due to the lack of necessary food supplies.
The result? Success. As expected, it warmed the hearts of the receivers of these packages to know that they were not forgotten while at the same time assisted millions of war-weary individuals survive the ravages and shortages due to the consequences of war.
But, the story doesn’t end here. This movement was so well received it eventually expanded world-wide. And, with each request and receivership care packages have endured to today.
DID YOU KNOW? More than 75 years after its institution, care packages still reach millions with much needed supplies and food stuff.
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Today’s Care Package Recipients
As mentioned above, today’s care packages are sent around the world for a variety of recipients and reasons.
You’ll find well-packed boxes sent locally and abroad to military personnel, grandchildren, college students and even those who may be experiencing trauma, from catastrophic events like earthquakes, cyclones, hurricanes, and yes, even war.
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Don’t Forget Cards and Letters
Care packages are not just about food and “stuff.” It’s also about the personal side in the form of cards and letters that are slipped inside the packed items.
To some it may seem a minor detail, but in fact these harbingers of love and concern offered by the sender to the recipient can make a difference to those who may not be able to return home, to their hometown, or even country for months or years at a time.
As in the case of U.S. soldiers who are located abroad, these military men and women especially look forward to reading the notes included in their care packages sent by school-aged children and other well-meaning supporters.
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Organizations That Accept Care Packages
Going back to that first care package, there have been many organizations throughout the years that have encouraged the creation of care packages. Some of the more well known (and aren’t limited to) are:
- American Red Cross
- CARE® Organization
- Support Our Troops
- Hugs for Soldiers
- United Service Organization (USO)
- Any Soldier
- Operation Gratitude
- Operation Shoebox
Additional organizations (but not limited to) who have been known to welcome care packages for their constituents are:
- religious organizations
- homeless shelters
- women shelters
- homebound and infirmed.
Interestingly, many organizations offer pre-made lists with some even provide packaging options that one can utilize when assembling their care package. Just be sure to follow each organization’s instructions.
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Care Packages – Big Business
Suprisingly, care packages have also become big business. Just surf the Internet and you find an endless list of online companies ready and willing to create a “special” care package just for your loved one.
Think that utilizing a business that creates care packages might take away the “personal touch?”
The caveat of these businesses is that they assist senders who may not necessarily have the time or supplies to put together these packages or the wherewithal to follow the increasingly stringent shipping requirements.
If you do decide to go this route, you’ll find that the hardest task you’ll face is what to choose to include in your care package.
For example, a care package for a young child might include small but enjoyable toys alongside candy, cookies, as well as age-appropriate books.
There are college exam kits to help university students keep their energy up while having to participate in “all nighters” during exam times. These kits include energy bars, candy bars, cookies (of course), nuts, and “bits and baubles,” games and more to keep them stress free.
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And, there are now formalized military soldier care packages that come pre-packaged with items that have been “approved” to be sent overseas based upon lists provided by the military.
DID YOU KNOW? In case you thought that ordering a pre-packaged care package is impersonal, think again. Most if not all businesses offer the ability for you to send a personal greeting along with your package. Just request this service when placing your order.
So You Want to Send DIY Care Packages Yourself?
Putting together a care package isn’t as daunting a task as you might guess. It only takes a bit of thought and preparation.
First, you’ll want to consider the needs (and wants) of your recipient.
Create a list of items first to see what might work or not.
Then you will need answer the following questions:
- What size box will you use? Too large a box will encourage the movement of items and might cause breakage. Too little a box might not allow enough “breathing” room for the contents to be packed properly–again causing breakage.
- Where will your care package be sent? Be sure to have the correct address, country code, etc.
- Are there any breakables? If so, you might want to substitute these items with alternative products or wrap well in bubble wrap for safe travels.
- Are there shipping limitations or regulations that might prohibit certain products from entering a country or state? You’ll find there are definite regulations for what can and cannot be shipped between countries and even between states, so be sure to review this information prior to shipping any package. Check out this U.S. Postal Service Link: Postal Explorer.
Finally, don’t forget the snacks! Candy, cookies, nuts and snacks are usually included in these packages. You may want to make these yourself or do a mix-match of homemade and prepackaged goods.
Make your package unique. And, don’t forget to include a note with your package. Well-wishes are always welcome!
Care Package Tip: Always use care when sending a care package. Don’t pack too tightly or too loosely and be sure to fill in the gaps with packing peanuts.
50+ Fun Stuff to Include in a Care Package
To help you create your own unique DIY care package, hop on over to this non-exhaustive list of 50+ items to include in your DIY care package. Mix and match for age appropriateness: 50+ Nifty Gift Ideas for Care Packages
And, for more great ideas and tips for creating your own DIY care packages, check out these resourceful articles: