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Hoosier Musings on the Road to Emmaus

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Military Transient Care

My buddy Mark is now a full-time Air Force chaplain, currently serving at a major military hub in "Southwest Asia" -- a staging area for many servicemen and women as they move to and from duty stations throughout what the rest of us call the Middle East. The chaplains there try to maintain a supply of travel-size toiletries (shampoo, toothbrush & paste, deodorant, etc.) and other useful items for these service members, many of whom are “in transition” for days with little or no access to their own personal belongings.

This is where you come in. Think about all those little unused bottles you bring home from business trips and vacations... here's a way to put them to work. Of course, if you are able, you might also buy a few extra things to contribute as well; they are available at most grocery or department stores.

Especially helpful items include (but are not limited to)...
  • Tooth paste
  • Toothbrush
  • Toothbrush holders
  • Dental floss
  • Shampoo/conditioner
  • Styling gel/mousse
  • Deodorant
  • Disposable razors
  • Contact lens solution
  • Skin cream/lotion
  • Shaving cream
  • Lip balm
  • Hand gel/sanitizer
  • Cards/note paper
  • Envelopes
  • Pens
  • White tube socks
  • Foot powder
  • Coffee (ground, not whole bean)
  • Gum
If this sounds a lot like a list of necessities at a homeless shelter, you're not too far off. I'm told the living conditions for transients there are not too awfully different. Except a whole lot hotter.


Top 10 Shipping Suggestions

  • 1.Use “Priority Mail Flat Rate” boxes, available at the Post Office. The large size (12”x 12” x 5 1/2”) will be given a discounted shipping rate when sent to APO/FPO addresses (this is true whether or not it is pre-marked as a special APO/FPO box. What matters is the destination address).
  • 2.Collect liquid items together in Ziploc bags (1-2 extra-large bags for all of them will usually do) to prevent spillage during shipment.
  • 3.Add packing material as needed to ensure all items fit snugly and do not rattle around.
  • 4.Put a note inside, to let the chaplains know who you are and where the box came from.
  • 5. Seal the box with packing tape.
  • 6.Say a prayer for those who will receive it, and for those whom they serve in turn.
  • 7.Address the box as follows. DO NOT USE ANY OTHER DESIGNATION. Noting the country or using any other information confuses the Customs people, and the box may be delayed or not delivered at all.
Jack’s Place Transient Ministry
379 AEW/HC
APO AE 09309
  • 8. Complete a US Customs form to accompany each box (the people at the post office can help with this, if it is confusing).
  • 9. Take box and Customs form to the Post Office and send it on its way.
  • 10.Take an empty box back with you, and begin again!


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