5 Care Package Alternatives During Quarantine

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Fact: I never had to deal with deployment during a quarantine and a world-wide pandemic.

Another fact: No one has since World War I.

Unless you’re 100 years old, you’ve never done this either. We’re all flying blind. And that’s a little scary as we try to navigate what all of this is and what it means for our lives.

Some things can’t be changed. They’re immutable, even in the face of a pandemic. But other things–like care packages– can be adapted so you’re putting yourself at the least amount of risk possible.

Unless you live somewhere that is completely untouched by COVID-19, chances are you’re under some kind of stay-at-home order. Even if your state is opening up again, there’s truly no reason to put yourself at a higher risk just to go shopping for care package supplies.

I mean, care packages are fun. And sure, they’re even important. But they’re not contract-a-potentially-deadly-virus important.

Whether you're sheltering in place or aren't in the mood to go out too much, use these ideas to send a lot of love, even when you're not making care packages. #quarantine #covid #coronavirus #ideas #happymail #military #deployment #carepackage #carepackages #missionary #missionaries #college #collegestudent #collegestudents #soldier #sailor #soldiers #sailors #craft #idea #inspiration

Especially when there are other options that are much, much safer. Options that let you stay at home, in your PJs, and shop online. And as a bonus, some of these options even support veteran and military spouse owned businesses. (Win, win, win-win-win!) Check these out:

1. AU-Rate

Consider sending better, not just sending more. AUrate offers a variety of options using recycled gold and ethically sourced gemstones– from silver earrings to gold necklaces–and multiple price points. Every piece comes in beautiful, plastic-free packaging and with a travel pouch for storage.  While it might not be cookies and granola, it’s a luxurious gift… and will be a surprise for anyone you send it to.

2. Troopster

Not out and about? Not feeling like ordering 40 different things from online stores… and then still taking time to create the care package and send it? Let Troopster do it for you. Founded by a veteran who is also a military spouse, Troopster’s mission is to send awesome care packages to military members. Pricing is affordable and the packages are jam-packed. Have a loved one with a special diet or considerations? Troopster offers a variety of tailored packages, from keto to vegeterian, from bath products to food products. There’s even a subscription option that you can essentially set and forget– ensuring that no matter what the pandemic throws at you on the homefront, your deployed honey continues to get care packages from you through Troopster.

3. Sandboxx

Created by a Marine veteran, Sandboxx makes sending letters to military folks–including bootcamp recruits–as easy as writing a text. Using the Sandboxx app, you can attach photos and write a letter to your loved one. They’re printed and shipped overnight to your recruit. Your recipient also gets a pre-paid and addressed envelope along with letter stationery so there’s never any excuse for not writing back. You can send a gift card in the letter too, which easily takes the place of a care package, ensuring that your loved one can buy what he or she wants and needs. One letter costs roughly $4 to send; however, there are discounts for bulk purchases of letter credits.

4. Send it directly

While Amazon has recently cut back on their services because of the pandemic, many items are still available for shipping to APO/FPO/DPO addresses. Not sure what your loved one needs? You can always send an electronic gift card. If you’re shipping a physical item directly from Amazon to your deployed person, don’t forget to send a gift message with the box– it’s free! Have something else in mind that isn’t Amazon? Send direct from a retailer that ships APO/FPO/DPO. Need some inspiration? Check these businesses that ship to military addresses.

5. Go digital

Whether you want to be more environmentally friendly, aren’t into creating care packages, or don’t want shop for care packages during the middle of a pandemic, digital gifts are a great option as care package alternatives. Consider these ideas which you can purchase with a few clicks or taps:

  • I mentioned it just above, but I’ll mention it again: electronic gift cards! If you want to make sure that your loved one can use them during deployment, double-check the store’s APO/FPO/DPO shipping policies first. (Pro tip: The Commissary and Exchange both offer online sales of gift cards. The Exchange will deliver the gift card electronically; the Commissary will send a physical card. Even if you do not have base access or a military ID, you can purchase Exchange and Commissary gift cards to send to someone else.)
  • Audible is the premiere audiobook platform. You can gift 1-month, 3-month, 6-month, and 12-month subscriptions.
  • Purchase a subscription to a work-out app or game that your loved one enjoys. Just make sure they can access it where they are.
  • Prime Music Unlimited offers unlimited, ad-free streaming of more than a million songs. And, as an added bonus, the subscription also includes free Kindle book borrowing.

BONUS! Send coffee

Swatara Coffee Co. is a veteran-owned, brick-and-mortar coffee shop that ships to APO/FPO/DPO addresses. Send bags of coffee (whole bean and ground options) or consider the Coffee Shop in a Box gift set as options to keep your soldier, sailor, airman, or Marine topped off with caffeine and a morale boost, all while supporting a veteran who dreamed up his coffee shop while deployed to Afghanistan. (Full disclosure: I am a part-owner of Swatara Coffee. Co. The other owner is John!)

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