I had SO much fun putting together packages for the troops that it led me to believe that maybe I should do something different with my life - like spend other people's money and shop for them. I'm really grateful to my job for allowing us to do this and really thank our troops for defending the ol' U.S. of A.
First, I went to REI.com to find bags to put all of the goodies in. There are 11 people in Crash's group (troupe, battalion? I'm embarrassed to admit I can't remember what to call troopmates - so I call them troopmates) and we made individual packages for each. I scored these "Flash Packs" on sale - and they are beyond cool. They are made of rip-stop nylon, have loops on the outside for hanging things like water bottles, pockets on the inside - which you can reverse the whole pack and put the pockets on the outside if you want, and if you don't need a backpack, there is a hole in the top to put a water tube through so you can convert the pack into one of those camelback water backpack things. Also - ever the fashionista, they come in a nice array of colors (of which I bought an assortment, for the soldier who may prefer lime green over black - speaking from Navy brat experience, it can get boring to have a wardrobe made up of only khaki, blue and dark green).
My next step was to fill the pack with travel size toiletries. I think I bought the entire travel section at CVS. 11 of each - and even though I told the checkout tech that there were 11 of each, she insisted on ringing everything up individually. Don't get me started - it took forever. I couldn't help but think of my trusty Clueless bible when Cher is Captain of the Pismo Beach Disaster Relief - "Daddy, some people lost all of their belongings, don't you think that includes athletic equipment?" So I thought with a smile as we piled in every toiletry imaginable "Some troops have been in Afghanistan for a year or more, don't you think that means they need travel size toilet paper and hair gel?" Like Cher, I would have put skis in the packs if I could have fit them...Anywho, it was fun.
In the bag.
Then I went over to City Sports and bought "Light Hiking" socks. Hopefully, these are awesome. I don't really know what it feels like to spend all day in combat boots (other than the pain-inducing hell of Doc Martens) - but I'm hoping these socks will make it easier. They feature a padded foot, the Coolmax system, ventilation, etc.
We also included a TON of Beef Jerky from a place in Naples, Florida. But my favorite goodie was from the guys at Bell Wine & Spirits. Rob had sent me out in search of cigars the troops might like. I don't know anything about cigars, being that I'm just a woman - I know I smoke them and when I'm at Shelly's I don't like to spend more than 13 dollars on them. At Bell they had a promotional package with four assorted cigars and a cigar cutter - but they only had 2. So I asked - Oh Man, can I get 11 of these?? The Bell man was skeptical, but made a call to his supplier anyway. Well, whoever their vendor is sent over 11 wonderful white boxes with silver ribbon that contained 4 cigars, a cigar cutter and a pack of matches. I couldn't have been more appreciative. (They have a great wine selection as well for you DC people).
I don't really know if these are good cigars - but I hope they're enjoyed.
I love love love giving gifts - especially good ones. It was so nice last week to take brief breaks from real work to traipse around and shop for the troops. I personally think the packs are going to be a wild success - and at least I hope that they convey from MHM to our Heros overseas that we're thinking of them and appreciate their service dearly! Thanks!
And special thanks to my Uncle - a veteran himself - who steered me in the right direction for many of these items. :)