Collect hotel and sample sized toiletriesEveryone has a bag full at home! Ask your local drug store for free samples of lotion, etc. At conventions, ask those with you to give you their unused toiletries. Casinos will donate playing cards. Ask insurance and real estate agents for small calendars. Talk to your letter carrier about extra in the mail samples, too. Ask your neighbors, church, and club groups to collect items, too.
Conduct a neighborhood scavenger huntTake the “shopping list” and have kids go through the neighborhood asking for donations. Give the list to your kids/grandkids and let them go through your house! You may also conduct a neighborhood drive by asking a grocery store for brown bags and stapling the shopping list to it. Write on the list a day that you will drive by and collect the bags left on front porches. This could also be done through a church or school, handing each person a bag with list.
Call your dentist and ask for a donation of toothbrushes, floss, toothpaste and mouthwashAsk other dentists, too. I happened to see an office, walked in, and received a call the next week to pick up 300 (each) toothbrushes, floss, and toothpaste! Call your medical doctor, dermatologist, etc. and ask for samples!
Collect those free charity greeting cards and stickers that come in the mailAnd those onesy twosy boxed cards that you have left from the holidays. They can all be sent to the troops to send home! Ask your local card shop for unused envelopes. Stickers are also great. We send them to the troops to use on their letters home.
Pick one item from our shopping listItems such as black socks), and spread the word that you are collecting this one item for the Troops. This is a great, easy way to make a big impact. Be creative and tie the item into a holiday. For example, start a “Mom’s love the Troops” drive before Mother’s Day, and collect packages of briefs and panties. Everyone knows the stories about Moms always worried about clean underwear!
Utilize your connectionsIf you know hotel workers, ask about hygiene products, etc.
Donate condiment packets from restaurantsSoy sauce, catsup, etc. make those MREs a bit tastier. (Be sure to pack in zip locks in case they break open.)
Volunteer your time at a care package assembly or other event.
Start a letter writing campaign in your local schools, churches, and organizationsGetting mail from “home” is the highlight of the Troops’ day. Young children can draw pictures. Be sure to add a return address so the Troops can write back!
Ask people to donate money to cover shipping costsAt roughly $1 a pound, it is the program’s largest expense. 100% of all donations are used for care package items, or to pay shipping costs. Checks should be made payable to Operation: Care and Comfort, and donations may be made online, too.