Don't wait to send the holiday packages and letters to servicemen and women overseas.
The first holiday mailing deadline is just days away.
Thursday, Nov. 13, is the deadline for sending holiday packages to troops stationed overseas using Parcel Post to all Air/Army Post Office (APO) or Fleet Post Office (FPO) zip codes.
The military care kit, or "Mili-kit," makes it easier for military families and friends to send care packages to their loved ones stationed overseas. Since the inception of the military care kit, the U.S. Postal Service has shipped more than 150,000 kits. The kit contains three flat rate boxes, two cube boxes, nine address labels and 16 customs forms.
The kit may be ordered by calling the USPS Expedited Package Supply Center at 1-800-610-08734. There is no charge for the kit.
The Priority Mail Flat Rate boxes included in the kit may be shipped to any APO/FPO in the world, regardless of weight, for $10.95 when postage is purchased at the post office retail counter, or $10.50 when purchased online at usps.com.
All packages and mail must be addressed to individual service members as required by U.S. Department of Defense regulations.
The postal service places APO/FPO mail on special charter flights, commercial airlines and military service aircraft to reach armed services members overseas as quickly as possible.
The Department of Defense has issued the following guidelines for addressing mail to military and civilian personnel deployed in Operation Iraqi Freedom: Use the service member's full name, include the unit and APO/FPO (Air/Army Post Office or Fleet Post Office) address with the nine-digit zip code. Click-N-Ship customers should be advised the postal service and the military will continue to add and update valid APO/FPO addresses for online labels.
Include a return address.
For packages, print on one side only with the recipient's address in the lower right portion. Or print a postage-paid label online at Click-N-Ship, which will automatically standardize the APO/FPO address if it has been added to the postal service database.
There are also certain factors to consider when sending packages to the troops overseas. To make sure package contents arrive in good shape, take these into consideration:
* Extreme temperatures. Desert temperatures typically exceed 100 degrees,
* The box. Select a strong box with room for cushioning. On recycled boxes, cover all precious labels and markings with a heavy black marker or adhesive labels,
* Cushioning. Cushion contents with Styrofoam or bubble wrap to keep items from shifting. Consider double-boxing fragile items, with cushioning inside and between the boxes to absorb shock,
* Batteries. Battery powered items will sometimes get turned on during shipment. Remove and wrap the batteries separately,
* Sealing. Tape the opening of the box and reinforce all seams with 2-inch wide tape. Use clear or brown packaging tape, reinforced packing tape or paper tape. Do not use cord, string or twine, and
* Include a card describing the content. Improperly wrapped packages can fall apart during shipment. Including a card inside, listing the sender's and recipient's addresses plus a description of the contents, helps in collecting items.