Gifts to Send to Iraq
August 24, 2004 9:14 PM   Subscribe

One of my friends aparently has some buddies over in iraq and gave me this poser: two good HS friends (one much more so than the other) are over in Iraq and I thought it would be nice to send them some stuff. Do you have any ideas what they would like? For instance, if you were in a foreign country getting shot at, what would make you happy at the end of the day (keep in mind this has to fit in a 1ft3 sorry, no naked chicks). more inside

first off, i apologize that this fails (pdf), the non-googleable status, but i figured that maybe this would bring out the more creative side of mefi. Plus if it encourages someone to send someone else something nice then it can't possibly be a bad thing :)
posted by NGnerd to Shopping (27 answers total)
When my brother was in Gulf War I, all he wanted was baby powder. Above all else, baby powder. He said later, after he got back, that he might have liked Gold Bond, but didn't think of it at the time.
posted by oflinkey at 9:25 PM on August 24, 2004

i heard that wetnaps/baby wipes are really appreciated.
posted by amberglow at 9:28 PM on August 24, 2004

A friend in the first Gulf War asked us to fill the care packages with just personal necessities like toothpaste, razors, etc. Stuff that's frequently lost or used up, always needed, and easily bartered. So maybe go to the samples aisle of the drugstore and stock up on as many as will fit in the box? What your friends can't use themselves, they'll be able to trade.

A personal letter, even a pretty mundane one, or a photo is also a big morale booster for someone so far from home.
posted by nakedcodemonkey at 10:35 PM on August 24, 2004

Oh, and knowing the heat they're dealing with, hot-season basics like sunscreen are probably much appreciated.
posted by nakedcodemonkey at 10:38 PM on August 24, 2004

What if I want to send stuff over to a soldier, but don't know any personally? Is there any sort of pen-pal exchange program thing I can sign up as a volunteer at?
posted by mathowie at 10:46 PM on August 24, 2004

There was (is?) a program called Hate the War, Love the Warrior that I took part in a while back. I can't for the life of me find a website for them, though; maybe it was put on by a larger group?
posted by Yelling At Nothing at 10:58 PM on August 24, 2004

Yelling At Nothing, if you do find it, email to me please, that sounds perfect.
posted by mathowie at 11:27 PM on August 24, 2004

That sounds good to me, too, Yelling At Nothing.
posted by DaShiv at 11:36 PM on August 24, 2004

books for soldiers has a huge care package exchange going
posted by kv at 11:37 PM on August 24, 2004

Bag Balm and other lanolin-based balms are the best for hardcore desert dryness. When your feet crack, there's nothing better. Simple, unglamorous, but I'm sure it'd be welcome. Won't take up much room, either.
posted by scarabic at 11:39 PM on August 24, 2004

posted by ed\26h at 1:08 AM on August 25, 2004

Being out in the middle of the desert, I would assume Visine comes in handy.
posted by invisible ink at 1:29 AM on August 25, 2004

for our American users:

ed\26h is a Brit, he means cigarettes. hopefully.
posted by matteo at 2:41 AM on August 25, 2004


a well-written long letter

socks/underwear - soldiers cannot have enough socks or underwear

a few books and magazines

candy/snacks - nothing that melts, obviously.

cds/tapes and a discman/walkman with extra batteries

if you know their rank/duties they may have access to outlets in which case you could get them an mp3 player if you want to be a hero

a new ditty bag filled with the obvious

medicines like sudafed/nyquil/tylenol/asprin/pot

and if you really want to be a hero stuff a miltary grade camelbak in the box.
posted by raaka at 3:29 AM on August 25, 2004

oh yea... disposable cameras
posted by raaka at 3:32 AM on August 25, 2004

If you read the soldiers' blogs, they seem to really want DVDs.
posted by CunningLinguist at 5:40 AM on August 25, 2004

What if I want to send stuff over to a soldier, but don't know any personally? Is there any sort of pen-pal exchange program thing I can sign up as a volunteer at?

There used to be a program in the US that Dear Abby ran called Operation Dear Abby where people could write a letter to "any service member" That was suspended for this operation due to security concerns of some sort, but if you want to send greetings via an email form, it's still online here. The DoD is still telling people not to send unsolicited care packages but that page does have advice on non-profit programs that do send some things over, as well as a suggestion list of what to send. It's basically like a list for Burning Man -- hot sauce, ziplock bags, batteries, ear plugs, porn.
posted by jessamyn at 6:01 AM on August 25, 2004

Oh, and knowing the heat they're dealing with, hot-season basics like sunscreen are probably much appreciated.

In reading jessamyn's link from above:

From the "What Not to Send" list: Sun Screen - already issued in mass quantities, drowning in the stuff
posted by jalexei at 6:35 AM on August 25, 2004

my brother is stationed a little south of tikrit. he and his buddies like dvds, as it gives them something to do when they have downtime.

don't know about your friends, but i sent my brother some sardines, and he was thrilled. kipper snacks, sardines in mustard and in hot sauce, etc. - the tins of fish keep well, they're tasty (can't get anything like that over there, he said), they aren't pork, and best of all they smell. he said he left the empty tins under a friend's bed, just to annoy him, for amusement and all. (this friend was also hounding him to share the fish. poor guy.)

also, powdered sports drinks, like those 1 lb tubs of gatorade mix. or tea. something to make the water taste different. i found some iced tea bags, they brew in cold (or cool) water, so no boiling necessary.

currently it's starting to cool off there (getting down to 120 F) so they're starting to issue fresh cold-weather gear (really, not joking). might consider something that can be heated. my brother liked the spaghettios i sent in may. anything that reminds them of home would be appreciated.
posted by caution live frogs at 6:50 AM on August 25, 2004

I desperately want to send something, but I don't know anyone over there and don't want to send a generic care package to it may end up in the hands of someone who is in the mail room. Caution Live Frogs, is there any way to send stuff to your brother or someone in his group...someone who is acually fighting and needs the stuff? Does anyone know how to do this?
posted by aacheson at 7:52 AM on August 25, 2004

My nephew and a family friend were both there. (Thankfully, both came home safe.)

They liked DVDs and CDs because they could trade them around. "The Family Guy" seasons on DVD were popular.

They also liked meat and cheese packs from places like Hickory Farms because that kind of food was wrapped, couldn't be tampered with, and was a nice change from their regular fare.

Note that certain businesses will waive shipping charges when sending to military addresses.

Our family friend was on guard duty when my package (meats and cheeses) arrived, and the guys who came out to replace him supposedly were all "You got a package! Can we open it? Can we have some?"

Felt good to do something so simple for those so far from home.
posted by GaelFC at 8:17 AM on August 25, 2004

Has anyone used Any Soldier? They have lists of what each registered soldier would like. They also have general "What to Send" info. It's a great idea -- they seem to want basic items like feminine products (one woman says they all want more tampons), baby wipes, canned food, DVDs, CDs, batteries, powdered drink mixes and/or tea bags, chips, granola bars, candy, beanie babies (to give to kids they meet), cheap flip-flops for the showers, crossword puzzles, books and even smaller travel-size items for pockets (mouthwash, chapstick, gum, etc.).
posted by fionab at 9:25 AM on August 25, 2004

I have heard nothing about good for AnySoldier; it can also conveniently solve the problem of unsolicited care packages.

Also, if you're wanting to do good for the people of the countries we're in, not just our soldiers over there, check out Spirit of America's requests page, which collects requests for public service/friendship materials that are needed over there.
posted by jammer at 11:23 AM on August 25, 2004

Er... that should be "nothing but good about AnySoldier".
posted by jammer at 11:47 AM on August 25, 2004

If your soldier is an NFL fan, he/she might like his favorite team's 2004 "yearbook". Most teams put out a pretty hefty magazine that previews the team's upcoming season, player and coach bios, schedule analysis, lots of pictures, some history, etc. etc. For any hardcore fan, it's almost a must. The NFL season is right around the corner and one of those mags might be pleasant surprise.
posted by Witty at 12:35 PM on August 25, 2004

Wow--thanks for all the links, everyone!
posted by DaShiv at 1:01 PM on August 25, 2004

A portable chair in bag. After returning from Iraq, my brother suggested this as a necessity for every soldier.
posted by thomcatspike at 1:45 PM on August 25, 2004

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