Giving Back DIY

November 1, 2019| photo & articles by jessica robbins

Every Thanksgiving, my family gets together to assemble care packages for people in need. This year, we have chosen to put together care packages for local, currently-deployed soldiers in the military.

My grandmother was a school secretary. While my grandpa was deployed, she gathered the neighbors to assemble care packages and send them to their deployed loved ones. These simple packages really do make a significant difference to the soldiers. Let's keep this tradition going by sending our love to a soldier in need. 

Will James Middle School History teacher, Hunter Jones’ Will James Soldier Support Team has sent out nearly 8,000 care packages and 12,000 letters to soldiers from Billings. They send the deployed soldier one care package and two letters a month. Below are some ideas for the contents.


  • Priority Mail Flat Rate boxes
  • Individual flavored drink packets
  • Protein: tuna, jerky, nuts, dried fruits, protein bars
  • Snacks: pretzels, trail mix, crackers
  • Hard candy: taffy, licorice, Starburst, suckers (Remember to choose candy that will not melt.)
  • Toiletries: wet wipes, chapstick, travel size lotion, or sunscreen 
  1. You can pick up Flat Rate Priority Mail boxes at the post office in different shapes and sizes. These work well because of the flat fee to ship, no matter the weight. You don't have to purchase these boxes; request the sizes you want at the Post Office. Although shipping donations are always accepted, it is not mandatory to include shipping costs with your care packages.
  2. Fill the boxes up with items you’ve selected. The soldiers have their own water bottles, so they love to add the flavored drink packets to their water. Add the protein (high-energy protein bars are much appreciated), snacks, and hard candy. Toiletries go in last. Remember only to add new, travel-sized toiletries.
  3. For a special treat, I have my kids draw pictures and make thank-you cards. There is just something exceptional about a handwritten, thank-you card!
  4. Drop off filled boxes to Hunter Jones (406-281-6100) jonesh@billingsschools.org. Please do not seal the packages.
  5. Hunter would love to hear from you and add a deployed soldier from Montana that you know, to the list of recipients. If you are unable to assemble a physical care package, donations for postage are always needed, as well.

Originally printed in the November 2019 issue of Simply Family Magazine

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