First timer, Taylor Houck inspired us to write a post dedicated to care packages.
“I think a great piece that would not only be informative but funny would be what athletes find themselves begging for in their first care package from home. I just received mine today and never felt so much joy in getting items I once took for granted!”
Items I demanded ||Kayla Jeter Volleyball
“Trader Joe’s honey roasted peanuts – they’re basically crack, Quinoa – it’s super expensive here, Palmers Cocoa Butter lotion…2 actually. One for me to repair what Finnish winters have done to my skin and the other for my teammate who is now addicted, Chili pepper flakes/Frank hot sauce– I put that ish on everything, Funfetti cupcakes w/ matching frosting, Nature Valley Honey Oat Bars, Lemon Cookies from a bakery in knoxville that I still ate and were DELICIOUS after a week of international travel, Organic peanut butter, and black beans bc they’re literally nonexistent in the grocery store around here except for the organic store 30 minutes away.”
Items I demanded || Michelle Hackley (Bartsch) Volleyball
Peanut butter; although it is available in Germany it is in tiny jars that last maybe a week and pretty expensive. Hair ties; they also have these here but they mostly have the nasty metal clasps. Cranberry Pills; I am prone to getting kidney stones and conveniently got one the first month I was here. Powder Gatorade; it’s nice to have when you’re sick of water. Arm sleeves; I sweat a lot and our jerseys are short sleeved. Unless my setter wants to double contact every ball I pass they are a necessity. Good headphones; we travel everywhere by bus which means a normal bus ride is at least 8 hours.
Taylor Houck and her first car package from home
I got my first care package from my Mom on 2/12, only two weeks since I had left home. I don’t think I had ever been that excited to receive a package. There is no better feeling then receiving a care package while you abroad. My parents have sent me a lot of things during my time in college but I had never been so happy as I was after I got the first package from my mom. It was a feeling that is hard to explain but just completely made my day.
In my first package I was really, really dying to have two things: Band-aids/Neosporin and Girl Scout cookies. When I opened up the package and saw both of these things inside I was elated. I badly needed the first aid items for my body and the cookies were just such a great touch of home. My roommate, who is from Estonia, was very excited to try Girl Scout cookies because she had heard about them from movies and things. She was definitely not disappointed.
Along with these items, my mom also included some warm winter gear. We practice inside a dome that isn’t heated, so it is very cold. Receiving more under armors and long spandex was so great since I had been wearing and washing the same things every day. She also included cards from her and my father which just made me so happy to read.
After getting this package from my mom, I also received one a few days later from a friend from home, which was a complete shock to me. During various Skype sessions I had told her odd things I missed about America. For example: Cheetos, Pop Tarts and nail polish. When I opened up the package I was so happy to see that she included my favorite candy. Inside were Hersey’s kisses, Oreos, Kit-Kats, Twix and other chocolates. The best part was the Turtle shaped wax melter.
Before I left home, I recently made the transition from scented candles to scented waxes. You buy a wax from Yankee Candle, just like you would the candle, and then it melts on the melter and spreads the scent. I personally like it much better then a candle because I frequently forget to blow my candles out and with the melter you don’t have to worry about burning down your home. So I was extremely excited to see that she had sent me a melter and my favorite scents to go along with it.
Athlete abroad care packages that we spotted
Every athlete loves to show evidence that they are still loved by people from back home.
Care package inspiration
Not creative? No worries, here are some tips and care package ideas to help you out.
Random Tips: The cornier the better. Leave notes. Make it thoughtful. Take time to decorate it. Add a few extras that weren’t on their list because you know they will love them. Add little things. Gather notes from other friends in family to include.
• Don’t send homemade goods to soldiers you don’t personally know. If you plan to send homemade cookies or treats, you MUST have the name and address of an individual soldier. Troops are instructed to throw away homemade food from people they don’t know.
• Don’t mix food and non-food contents. Because these items are often in the same box for weeks at a time, smells mingle and can ruin food items, i.e. soapy-tasting cookies.
• Don’t send perishable foods, including meat, poultry, fish, soft cheeses, dairy, or any other foods that cannot safely be left at room temperature for more than two hours. This includes cookies and cakes with a cream or custard filling.
• Don’t send alcohol.
• Don’t send pork or pork products, since they are forbidden for religious reasons.
Don’t Overstuff Boxes
It’s understandable that you want to ship as much as possible in each box. However, don’t cram items into the box until the seams bulge. By doing so, you run the risk that the package will open or break during transit.
Even the sturdiest cardboard boxes in perfect condition have the potential of falling apart while en route to the servicemember. To reduce the risk, reinforce all seams with shipping tape.
Pack Hygiene Items Separately
Don’t pack soap, deodorant and other hygiene items in boxes containing food. Shipping these items separately will prevent food products from absorbing the scent of the toiletries.
Use caution when sending liquid products. First, make sure the item(s) are not on the prohibited list. Second, pack merchandise such as shampoo, conditioner and mouthwash in sealed plastic bags to help prevent leakage.
Place Address Inside the Box
Occasionally, boxes come apart, shipping labels become damaged or the package must be opened. To assist postal workers or military personnel in delivering the care package, write
• Don’t send high-moisture foods, like pumpkin bread or soft cookies, because of their susceptibility to molds.
• Don’t send fragile cookies, cakes, or pies, since they probably won’t make the trip intact.
• Don’t send foods containing chocolate, since they could melt.
• Don’t pack or send any food in glass or other breakable containers.
• Do pack foods in clean paper boxes, metal food tins, or plastic boxes or bags.
• Do send dried beef or poultry items like beef jerky, turkey jerky or beef slim.
• Do send dense and dry baked goods like biscotti, nut bars, shortbread, ginger snaps, crackers, chips, commercially packaged cakes and cookies, and high-sugar goods like fudge, pralines, toffee, and baklava. (The high sugar helps prevent bacterial growth.)
• Do vacuum-seal any homemade goods if you want to be EXTRA sure they’ll still be safe to eat when they arrive at their destination.
• Do send dried nuts, seeds, and fruit, like trail mix.
• Do send quality coffee and tea!
• Do send canned specialty foods like anchovies, tuna, sardines and dips and spreads.