Military Pen Pals
Finding a military pen pal
June 3, 2013 by Heidi Alger
Remember how Charlie Brown felt when he checked his mailbox looking for a letter from that little red-headed girl? Nothing would make his day, fill his heart, bring him more click-his-heels happy than a letter. There’s just something about mail…
I know that feeling. I’m that mom who tucks a hand-written note in a lunch box, or under a pillow. In turn, I’ve found elementary-level poems from my kids written in magic markers in my purse. And those give me that Charlie Brown kind of euphoria.
That’s how service members feel when they get mail. And that’s why I have involved my whole family, my “troop”, in connecting with military pen pals both online and old school – via mail.
With tablets, iPads, laptops and desktops, you can bridge the communication gap around the world and across all time zones. Contacting a service member who is a friend of the family is always an option, via Facebook or email. If you would like to reach out to someone you haven’t met, yet. sites like forgottensoldiers.org are easy to navigate. You simply write a note to a soldier online, and it’s printed and included in a care package.
At Anysoldier.com you can choose specific soldiers to write to from a long list of military pen pals. This site is also a fantastic resource when it comes to knowing what to send, like: socks and jerky or Clif bars and Beanie Babies (Yes, really! To pass out to children who need comfort where they are stationed, how cool is that?) and how to send it.
Sites like Military.com have an ample list of organizations that can put you in touch with troops. Each non-profit, like Operation Dear Abby and Operation Homefront Hugs, can help you navigate how to send cards and care packages around the world that will mean the world to the service member you reach.
Postcards are a picture perfect choice for military pen pals. I let the kids take their pick from the convenience store and for a few dollars – and in a few minutes – we’ve all had a chance to let someone know right from our kitchen table just how honored we are that they are defending our country. We find service friends on sites like Anysoldier.com and let the trading begin! Even though a picture is worth a thousand words, we are sure to let them know how we feel about their service, and share a little small talk about what’s going on in our hometown, too.
We’ve also taken the time to create our own stationary. It’s amazing what markers and some kitchen table time can bring out in your kids. Star-spangled borders to heart-felt kid-friendly poetry; portraits of soldiers in battle and in homecoming; or just a little small talk about the weather, in crayon, surely bring smiles across the miles.
Thinking big when it comes to your military pen pal? A care package can cover a lot of bases for service members who are deployed. Remember the rush from receiving a box from home when you were away at college? Take that feeling times 1,000.
Operation USO Care Package is a program that takes your donation and provides care packages stuffed with what service men and women consider comforts of home. The troops get $75 worth of items for each $25 donation – really!
If you’re sending something on your own, take the time to visit Military.com to get a list of just what you can send, and detailed instructions on sending mail to service members, before you pull treats together and head to the post office.
When we find a letter in our mailbox online or on our street – well, it’s a little thing that means a lot. It feels amazing knowing that we’re sharing that feeling with the men and women who defend us – I hope you take the time to put a big smile on their faces and let them know you’re thinking of them. It’ll bring a smile to yours, I’m sure.