I just stumbled on this thread and I got really choked up because I didn't realize there were so many people supporting our deployed Americans. I recently returned from a deployment to Iraq and I can tell you that you all have great ideas. However, I just read the post letting everyone know that Bath and Body Works is having a sale. I love B&BW but realistically, it's the LAST thing us women are looking for. Sure the smell is nice, but the bugs like it A LOT and it's a nightmare wearing anything that has a scent. Every once and a while it's great to "girl up" but for day-to-day stuff, soap and lotions that are unscented are really the best bet. Also, batteries are very important. Most places do not have lighting for force protection reasons, so batteries in flashlights are in big demand because they get used so often - saves us from tripping over everything! A list of most-needed items: Gold Bond (or similar) medicated powder for our smelly, overused feet; disposable razors and shaving cream because water is a premium and we can only take 3-5 minute showers (when available); unscented wipes; FDS (or similar) feminine wipes/spray/powder for obvious reasons; LIP BALM!!; bug spray; Raid (if possible); sunblock; and finally - something you've made!! We get all sorts of things people have made and they mean more to us than all the candy you could send. Schools send us pictures and cards that kids have drawn and we always put them up on the walls. Everything over there is brown - the ground, the landscape, our uniforms, the buildings, the cars - you love to see color every once and a while.
If you are interested in sending something to help the children of these countries, ask your "adopted" troop to send you the address of the Chaplain's office, civil affairs team or the local Provincial Reconstruction Team. The place I was deployed to provided school supplies to Iraqi children. I can't even begin to describe to you the look on these kids' faces when you hand them a backpack with school supplies in it. It's something I wish I could share with each and every one of you. It really hits home how much we as Americans take for granted. They need backpacks (small, inexpensive ones), pens, pencils, notebooks, rulers, pencil cases, construction paper, erasers, soccer balls, markers - pretty much anything you buy for your kids for school, they need. The only consideration to have is the supplies can't have any religious connotations. Disney is OK but keep an eye out for half-naked mermaids (Ariel) or princesses (Jasmine)! Some things they get are very iffy.
Again - thanks for all you've done! I would like to let you all know that the care packages you are sending are truly making a difference in our lives. THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU!!!