This guest post was written by Jenny Saikwa who was inspired by Veterans Day.
I'm not exactly sure how Spit made his entrance, but the little stuffed camel certainly meant a lot to my son during the waning days of his first deployment in Afghanistan. The object of countless “missions,” Spit's uncanny ability to sneak into a photo or weasel his way onto a helicopter was the stuff of legends. Spit celebrated his first Christmas next to a Charlie Brown-style tree at Bagram Airfield. Spit was also endowed with the straight-man's knack for comedy. He'd show up posing for pictures and appearing on Skype. But no matter what the situation, Spit would just stare at you.
For my son, orchestrating Spit's adventures kept him occupied during the long months of deployment. It was heart-warming that such a small, inexpensive item could connect us across the miles, and it required only a bit of humor and ingenuity.
My son will be serving in Afghanistan again this year and, though this deployment will be shorter, I'd like to do what I can to make the time sweeter. Friends and family typically pitch in too. Many of them write and connect via Facebook and email. Others send care packages, which we know he loves receiving!
During his first deployment, the thing he wanted most was a hammock, which sent me to every sporting goods store within reach. The Internet was of no help. You can spend hundreds of dollars on a hammock and even more to ship it to Afghanistan! Luckily, I was able to find the perfect lightweight parachute hammock for $15 at an out-of-the-way store while on a trip. And what's more, it fit perfectly in the USPS military care package kit. That and the mosquito repellent, Hacky Sack, plastic bat and Wiffle ball were huge, I'm told!
If you have someone in your life who is serving in the military, you may already have this covered. But if you don't, a care package from home means so much. Many of the day-to-day things we take for granted are in short supply, like deodorant, batteries, shoelaces, socks, and – of all things – Silly String! If sending a care package is beyond your reach, however, you might consider working with your school, religious group, or other civic organization that takes on projects like this. My friend's six-year-old got support from her class to send a care package, and the cards were adorable.
How do you create an inexpensive care package? Do you have traditions to make deployment go faster? Does your loved one have a favorite item they hope to receive while overseas? If you were deployed, what items did you hope to receive?