Wednesday, November 29th, 2006
By Laura Walker
Time is running out
Deadlines are close to mail Christmas packages
  Time is rapidly running out to send Christmas packages to overseas troops, according to the U.S. Postal Service.
In order for packages to arrive by Christmas to overseas military locations, items must be sent by the dates below. Exceptions are for ZIP 093 in Iraq.
• Most packages sent now should be mailed first-class, including letters and cards. Those items must be mailed by Dec. 11, and by Monday for ZIP 093.
• Express mail military service must be sent by Dec. 19 and is unavailable for ZIP 093. This service is available only to selected military post offices. Residents are advised to check with a local post office to determine   if this service is available for their package.
• The suggested mailing dates for parcel post and space available mail already have passed.
Steve Jones, Vietnam Veterans of American Chapter 783, Celina, said the organization just sent 30 pounds of tack candy to troops overseas. They also mailed magazines, baby wipes, snacks and many other items earlier to ensure Christmas delivery.
Jones recently received an e-mail from a military wife, whose husband is stationed in Iraq. She wrote the "hot items" are: beef jerky, cookies, small toiletries, shaving cream, shampoo, toothpaste, toothbrush, non-smelly non-greasy hand cream, chips, nuts, especially pecans, almonds and cashews, pretzels and basically anything from the snack aisle. Her final note was letters of appreciation and encouragement also are cherished by the troops.
Operation Military Pride suggests the following ways to involve children of service men and women in sending packages:
• Have the kids draw a picture or write a story. Put them all in a big envelope and send.
• Take video of the kids playing at the park, any school activities or just sitting down and saying a personal message.
• Get some computer printer magnetic paper. Let the kids draw a picture on it so the parent can easily hang it on the metal rack that they sleep in.
Jones reminds homemade goods must be packaged properly or the soldiers will end up with crumbs. The postal service recommends cushioning all gifts and removing batteries.
Items that cannot be sent are pressurized items, chocolates, pornographic material or the magazine, Liquor News.
Recommendations of what military personnel need and want can be found at www.operationmilitarypride.org/
packages.html. Before mailing to any military address, it is wise to check the restrictions of what can be received at the location. This also can be done on the Operation Military Pride care package site.
Military care kits with the proper packaging materials can be purchased at post offices or ordered by calling 800-610-8734, the USPS Expedited Package Supply Center. The USPS has sent more than 150,000 of these kits, which include two priority mail boxes, six priority mail rate boxes, eight priority mail labels, one roll of priority mail tape and eight customs forms with envelopes.
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