Saturday, January 16, 2016

#PimpingPositivity Soldier Style~January & February 2016

On December 27, my stepfather unexpectedly passed away. On December 28, we boarded a plane from MO to FL to be with my mom. On January 2, we flew back to STL via ATL. It must've been deployment day because military men and women were everywhere in both airports. I'm doing the best I can to teach AR about the sacrifice our service people  make for our country so she was busy telling each of them "thank you for your service" and distributing high fives.

When we got home and back into our routine, those young men and women dressed in camo were weighing heavily on my heart. I saw them say goodbye to their loved ones, tears were being shed by both family members and soldiers, and so many of them were so young with no idea what lay ahead of them. One night on Facebook, I saw that a fellow author was adopting a soldier that had reached out to her about one of her books. It hit me hard that this was an excellent opportunity to teach AR about gratitude, appreciation, and paying it forward. In a long line of seven degrees of separation, a soldier's address was given to me and hence, he and his unit were adopted by us!

Our goal is to send a package once a month. Every week at the grocery store, I grab a few extra things to throw in the box. Here's the information that was provided to me:

"His unit is only on MREs to eat so they love receiving food supplies they can cook over fire i.e. canned meats, bacon that doesn't have to be refrigerated, flavored noodle and rice packets, pizza crust, sauce, tortillas with seasoning, canned beans, pancake mix, etc..."

I was also told that we should decorate the inside of our package to make it more fun and brighten their morale. Some units do not allow decorations on the outside and so the soldier may never get it if you do that.

We sent our first package in January. After that first time at the grocery store, I found myself thinking about the soldiers as I ran to McDonald's for lunch or ate my pork chop for dinner. Here these men and women were thrilled to get Ramen noodles and canned beans! We really take for granted the things we easily have on hand here in the States.

So for our first package, I winged it and it included:

Ramen Noodles
Real Bacon Bits
Knorr side dishes
Packets of Taco Bell Hot Sauce
Packets of Advil
Jalepeno Tortillas
Packets of ranch, sloppy joe, au ju, spaghetti sauce mixes
Instant Oatmeal Packets
Boxes of hard candy (Sprees, SweetTarts, and Red Hots)
Drop-in Drink Mixes

AR and I used crayons and decorated the flaps of a plain cardboard box, sealed it up, and shipped it off. The cost to send was $27.

THEN, I did a little research and realized I was doing it all wrong! Seriously, go search "military care packages" on Pinterest and your mind will be BLOWN! So, in true Type-A personality, I searched and searched and I have a whole list of themes for each of our packages for like the next two years! I don't think our soldier's deployment is that long so we'll have to find someone to adopt once he comes home.

I also found that you can get a flat-rate first priority box for free from the post office. No matter the weight, it currently cost $17.50 to ship the box. The only problem is, it's kinda small so you have to get real creative in how you pack your box. It's important that you individually package certain things. For instance, put all soap, shampoo, etc... in one bag because if it leaks, it would really suck if it got all over the food in the box. Plus, take things out of the boxes to save room and fit more!

I've got all my friends, family, and co-workers saving any kind of sauce packets for me because the word on the street is those are in high demand to flavor up those MREs.

Moving on to our second month, February, we were much better prepared! We decorated the flaps for Valentine's Day, stuck an inspirational quote on the bottom, and AR really wanted to cut some paper so we have random paper stripes and shapes taped to the bottom. AR was a great glue helper!
Once it all dried, we made some conversation hearts. AR did most of the writing with some guidance of my dots or just looking at the word I wrote on the bottom. Our words were: HERO, BRAVE, STRONG, U.S.A.


This month's package included:
More spaghetti, sloppy joe, and au ju mixes
Seasoned salt
Just add water instant mashed potatoes
Packets of tuna in various flavors
Spaghettios (one giant can and four individual cans)
Cans of chili
Beef Ramen noodles
Kool-Aid Mix
Packets of sugar and creamer
Bottle of hot sauce
Monopoly Card Game
More Advil

This box is HEAVY (almost 19 pounds!) so we're definitely getting our money's worth with the flat rate shipping on this one. Without the box, it would've been $50!!!

So far, we're having a blast with this project! We're hoping to get a picture of the guys in the unit soon so we can do a Flat Stanley-like project with them so I'll keep you updated.

My niece is selling Girl Scout cookies and so far, she's sold over 60 boxes for these guys! My goal is to spoil them as much as possible to let them know how much we appreciate everything they do for our country. I'll keep you posted on each month's packages to let you know what we come up with. If there's any military men or women reading this, we truly appreciate all of your dedication and sacrifice for our country!

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