I had the opportunity to work with several groups of children and I asked them to do me a favor. They were asked to write a letter to a soldier or marine and I mailed them to strangers whose addresses I found through a wonderful organization called AnySoldier.
This is how the site works: "This effort is 110% voluntary.You send your support, and maybe some stuff, directly to whatever unit or units YOU select. We have volunteer Soldier "contacts" on the "Where to Send" page. They list what the folks they represent want and need...All the Soldiers involved in this effort are military volunteers stationed in areas that are in harm's way. You send your support (letters and/or packages) addressed to them and when they see the "Attn: Any Soldier®" line in their address they put your letters and packages into the hands of Soldiers who don't get much or any mail first. Everything is shared."
I received feedback from the actual people I've sent letters to, and they have all been absolutely positive. Their words reassure what I already know about soldiers: They are selfless, brave and remarkable.
So even if you do not have willing children to help you send encouragement to troops, just a simple card or letter will make a difference. And if you are feeling extra generous, you can ship packages overseas.
You can order a free military care package from the USPS by following the instructions found here. I ordered one on February 9th and I received it yesterday. In the kit were four medium flat rate boxes, two large flat rate boxes, five priority mail labels, six customs forms and envelopes, and a small roll of tape. It takes less than two minutes and you can request this kit up to four times.
You can also order more boxes and customs forms online through the USPS site. The large flat rate box gives you the best deal because you get a $2 discount when you ship to an APO or FPO address. Of course, these materials can also be found at your local post office.
This site had the easiest directions on how to fill out the customs forms using unusual military addresses while this one has detailed tips on shipping to Iraq or Afghanistan.
I hope this post convinces you to spread some encouragement to the troops. Please let me know if you are interested in getting my husband's address because I'm sure he needs a little love, too.