This is a follow-up to a previous post, entitled “What to WRITE to full-time missionaries” (CLICK HERE to see that post, or look in the “missionary” section on the right side of the blog page)
Sending a care package to full-time missionaries serving from your ward is a good activity for the youth because it helps them think about those who are serving (and hopefully appreciate them a little more). It can be difficult to figure out what to send full-time missionaries, though – especially if you are restricted by diet limitations or restrictions on what you can send to a specific mission… What do they want? What do they need? What would they really like?
Our friend Alex is currently serving in Brazil (Manaus), so I am somewhat restricted by what I can send there (and by the package size – its $24.00 for me to send a small flat-rate box that is only slightly larger than a VHS tape), but any size larger of box is over $50!!!!! So I keep it small and send only candy/food that I think won’t melt in transit (because it is HOT there!). Check with parents (or the post office) to see what kind of price and box size options you have if you are sending anywhere foreign. Its more expensive than you probably think!
Think “small” and “useful” and/or “fun”
Here are some of things I have sent Alex:
post-it notes, pencils, stickers (to give to kids), scripture markers, silly putty, card games (like Uno), gum with a hard coating (just because I think it won’t melt as easy), pop rocks candy, hand sanitizer (he requested this), sample-size shampoo, sample-size toothpaste, sample-size soap, stain-remover stick (small size, like in travel-size section of grocery store), small lint-roller, PICTURES (pictures of the family, etc), a tie, etc
Check with parents to see if something like socks (or nylons) might be needed and what size they would want. For sisters, if they wear makeup, things like lip gloss and mascara would probably be very welcome (and one less thing they would have to buy themselves!)
Personalized items are always great, too. Our YW sent missionaries care packages a few months ago and along with treats they put in the box, they also made homemade cards, origami neckties, and pillowcases with their handprints (done with fabric paint).
Even if there are no diet or mail issues, please ask the parents of the missionary if there are any mission-specific rules (for example, they are usually not allowed to read books other than scriptures, though some missions have made certain exceptions….. some missionaries are allowed to listen to certain types of music, others aren’t, etc).
Food is almost always the best thing to receive because it is usually in short supply (because of spending money on other things like bike repairs!) and it always nice to get treats. One of my companions got a giant box of mini peppermint patties and we thought that was the best thing EVER! It was a whole display box like you’d see in a mini-mart. It was so cool!
Here are a few more things you want to consider:
Anything non-edible that you send will end up in one of these places:
- In their suitcase that they carry from area to area (very limited space – they have to carry all of their clothes & belongings in their luggage)
- Staying in their apartment after they get transferred – a great ‘bonus’ for the next Elder transferring in!
- Given to a local member (because they don’t have room to take it with them)
- In the trash
- Or, worst of all, they will end up using their (food) money to ship it home (because they don’t have room)
That may sound harsh, but its just reality. My parents sent me a singing Christmas tree one year and my companions and I got a big kick out of it, but it got left in the apartment when I was transferred, because in order to pack it in my suitcase I would have had to left my clothes behind! They didn’t expect me to keep it with me and bring it home after my mission, but a lot of times people send things to missionaries and sort of expect them to keep it. Missionaries live a sort of transient lifestyle – they are asked to move without much notice and what they can’t take with them gets left behind. So if they have just bought a new broom or 80-load jug of laundry detergent and they get a transfer call, its probably going to be left behind for their companion (or their replacement). Its just not practical (or possible) for them to lug extra belongings around.
It wasn’t exactly this same one, but you get the idea!So no matter how much they might like items that you send them, please be aware that unless you are replacing items of clothing that they need, they probably won’t be able to take things with them after their upcoming transfer. Its okay to send fun things like this, but just don’t let it hurt your feelings if they can’t keep it!