Operation America Cares was born when two sisters, Roberta and Linda, living in the San Diego area, discovered that there were troops serving far from home in Iraq and Afghanistan who were receiving no mail or care packages from home. This was not acceptable to us and we decided to take action.
Our goal is to show our deployed service men and women who are far from home and the flag, that we love them, support them, and appreciate the sacrifices they are making for all of us. Although we do not have any family members currently serving in the military, our father is a retired Air Force veteran. Being “Air Force Brats” we were raised with a patriotic pride and appreciation for this great Country and what it stands for.
At Christmas 2008, we were able to obtain an address for our first shipment from a deployed friend, and we sent 35 care packages. We asked our friends and family to donate items or money to purchase what we needed for the packages. Operation America Cares was born!!
We have compiled a list of needed items based on feedback and requests from troops who have received our packages. We continually change and update the care packages to keep them relevant based on the season and the location of the troops. Oftentimes troops are in places where it is difficult to obtain even the basic necessities. Our military makes every effort to provide the necessities, it is essential that food, water, and munitions are a priority and get safely to the outlying areas. It is not always possible to get toiletries, and certainly non-luxury items like snacks and magazines to deployed troops.
We use the US Postal Service ($16.10 per box fixed rate) to mail our care packages. The military makes every effort to deliver mail to the deployed troops, and our boxes consistently make it into forward operating areas and into the hands of the troops that need them most!
Since that first shipment in 2008, we have sent over 23,000 care packages to our troops!
Linda and Roberta
Our Next Box Packing:
Go to Contact Us
the packing location.
Along with the items in our box list, (see the "What's In a Box" link) we also include personal thank you notes, hand-drawn pictures and notes from local school kids, and home-made goodies in each box. We will often receive letters, emails and Facebook posts from the troops who receive them. Their gratitude is overwhelming and inspires us to continue our efforts to send more and more boxes. We are often brought to tears by the heartfelt pictures and notes of appreciation we receive.
We continually collect items and funds to purchase more items to include in the care packages. Linda has a room in her home that is dedicated to Operation America Cares that contains bins for sorting the inventory of items for boxes (see below for pictures of this room). As we approach a mailing date we keep our Facebook page updated with details including the upcoming packing date and items that are in short supply; we will also send out request letters and reminder emails to those who have contributed and assisted in packing in the past. We hope that by keeping Facebook and this website updated with this information we will improve our communication with those who are already on the team and anyone who wants to join in and support our efforts. Generally, the packing is done at Linda’s home a few weeks before we want the care packages to arrive at their destination. There are many tasks that are performed before the actual packing date such as ordering boxes and customs forms, sorting and pre-staging the items, making up toiletry bags, sorting condiments and candy into zip-lock bags, and hand-writing thank you notes. We include notes and pictures from local school kids, so any connections you might have with a school could be helpful.
We have a regular schedule for sending packages monthly, and special packings for Thanksgiving, Christmas, Easter, Memorial Day, July 4th, and September 11th. We often get requests for special packings and mailings from local community groups that wish to get involved and help us support the troops. We assist them in organizing the donations and postage as well as assisting them with the packing on their scheduled packing day.
We normally send about 150 boxes with each mailing, but are limited by the amount of supplies and funds for postage that we have received. For example a full 150 box shipment can cost up to $11,250.00 in items and postage. Donating products help us reduce costs. Postage is fixed at over $2,400 regardless ($16.10 per box, presently.) If you also have a heart for these deployed troops, please consider making a donation.
Our community of participants has grown to include local businesses and organizations, members of our churches, co-workers, and friends of friends and their friends! Our project has taken on a life of its own, and we couldn't be more proud of the support we receive from our packing-day volunteers and financial supporters everywhere. OperationAmerica Cares has been recognized and has been written up in the San Diego area Escondido Magazine and the North County Times!
About our Care Packages and the Costs
What's In a Box?
Items Included in a Care Package
(Most of these can be purchased at a dollar store!!)
$$ for postage (currently $16.10 per care package)
Socks crew or athletic (no shorties please)
Eye drops (any brand) The wind, sun, and desert sand hurt their eyes!
Triple antibiotic ointment/Neosporin or antibiotic cream w/pain reliever
Advil/ibuprofen/generic pain relievers
Insect repellent - no aerosol spray cans
Sunscreen - no aerosol spray cans
Full-sized baby wipes/body wipes (80 count or larger)
Hand sanitizer - individual size
Kleenex - travel size
Gold Body Powder (available at the Dollar Tree for $1.00 each)
Shaving gel - no aerosol cans
Toothpaste - regular size tubes
Toiletries from your hotel stays
Soap - any size
Gum - individual packs
Mints - individual packs
Single serve drink sleeves - for adding to bottles of water
Single serve coffee sleeves - such as Starbucks VIA
Top Ramen - no cup of soup (to big for care packages)
Canned soups, stews, fruit
Jerky - all flavors
Energy bars and snack bars
Nuts - individual bags or small cans
Sunflower seeds - individual packs
Dum dums, tootsie roll pops and hard candy. Must be individually wrapped
M&M - individual bags ( they melt in your mouth, not in Afghanistan)
Cookies - individual packs
Condiments - small giveaways from fast food restaurants - any kind!!!
Peanut butter/jam - individual servings
Crossword books/word game books/travel games
Magazines - no older than 3 months - men's or social mags such as People
Paperback books - no romance novels, please
DVDs - can be recycled
Blank paper, envelopes/pens - for them to write home
Thank you notes - written from us to them! If you include your name and address, you may get a letter!
Pictures and notes from kids
Ziplock bags - gallon, quart or snack size
For the Latest Up to Date Information:
We use our Facebook page to communicate details of the next scheduled packing and any additional items we may need.
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FOR ADDITIONAL INFORMATION, SEND US AN EMAIL
WE ARE LOCATED IN ESCONDIDO, CA
Care Packages Shipped
to Deployed Soldiers