Aloha Kandahar

I had a soldier in Kandahar whose job was to clear roads of IEDs (Improvised Explosive Devices.) I decided that soldier needed a luau.

His base in Kandahar

His base in Kandahar

They already have sand…

When it comes to care packages, troops appreciate anything. While there are staples and standard items, doing themes is fun for both the sender and sendee. I figured since this soldier already had plenty of sand, I would give him a “luau” in a box.

LUAU care package

Luau care package part 2

It’s hard to tell from the picture but, those are TROPICAL flavored Tums and the small brown bag is Kona coffee. I got some cigars and made a cigar box out of a small USPS flat-rate box so they wouldn’t get smushed.

A real luau is a large feast not a hearty snack. However, it is where you gather with friends, wear bright colors and relax. I was hoping my version might make him smile after a long day. Since troops often share what they receive with their buddies, I knew the cigar break would be appreciated and help reduce stress a little.  With or without wearing leis.

Other essential items

Even when I send hygiene items, I’ll still toss in something fun. You never know when a game of dodgeball may break out. It’s good to be prepared.

care package- toys

When my friend Abby found out about the fun-factor she wanted to help think of ideas. I was about to send something to my solider based in the mountains and hadn’t come up with anything yet, so I accepted her help.

ABBY EXCITEDLY:  I know! I know!  How about a kite?

ME:  So… a bright, red, diamond-shape in the sky that can be seen for miles attached to a string that leads directly to his position on the ground?

ABBY:  Oh, that wouldn’t be good. What about a canteen?

ME: I have a feeling the Army gives them canteens. The Army may have even invented canteens.

Abby and I had a good laugh as we decided she should help in other ways. Imagine a kite in these mountains near his base.

Mountains near my adopted soldier's base in Afghanistan


A different box

Of course, there’s more than one kind of box you can fill that makes a difference. That would be a mailbox because a simple letter or postcard can mean a great deal.

One thing I like about Soldiers’ Angels is the opportunity to help other members with their projects. Last week, an “angel” put the word out that her adopted soldier, a female combat medic, and her entire unit (50 soldiers) were having some tough days. The angel wanted to send them a care package filled with encouraging letters and postcards from all across the country. It only took a few minutes to write a letter and postcard. It only cost two stamps and the price of the postcard.

letters to the troops

While the luau box was fun, I love that I can make an impact by doing something small too. Because if there’s one place in the world where little things mean a lot, it’s wherever our troops are far from home.

© Gina left the mall, 2013

17 thoughts on “Aloha Kandahar

  1. Yes Gina, you are right! I don’t always have the funds to send a big box. I got involved with that medic and her unit through one of her official Angels. The medic said there are 13 in her group that are moms who had to leave their children at home while they are deployed. I have a home based business sewing and creating lots of different things. So I packed up a belated Mother’s Day package (large envelope) with 13 colorful little wallets for the moms. Each one had a lucky penny inside.

    But, I’ll have to say that they really love the letter and photographs most of all. I went out and got a set of 24 different colored Sharpie markers and use them when I write. I’ve had soldiers tell me that they keep the letters and read them again and again. Like you said….. a half hour of your time and a stamp is nothing but really means the world to them! Thanks for all you do Gina, especially encouraging others to get involved.

    • Suzanne,
      I LOVE your beautiful, thoughtful Mother’s Day gift to all the deployed moms. I bet they did too!

      As for letters, I’ve heard the same thing. They carry them, re-read them and my adopted soldier saved every single letter and postcard and brought them home. There were quite a few…lol. But they truly meant something to him. It really is amazing how a small act, something that costs very little in time or money, can create such a big impact. And I am happy to spread the word on that:)

      Thank you for all you do for this medic and her unit!

    • Caren,
      Thank you for the kind words! But I have to admit, I feel like the lucky one. Doing these small things makes me feel like I’m making a difference for a pretty amazing group of people. That feels pretty good 🙂

      And any time I find out someone has been inspired here? Well..I wish you could see how big I’m smiling right now…lol.

  2. Thanks as always for the great ideas! I love reading your posts. When you talk about sending one time care packages via Soldier’s Angels, are you doing that thru the LWT group?

    • Thank you Stephanie! And no, I don’t do it through LWT, I do it through TLC. You can find TLC (yes, Tender Loving Care) requests on the Forum page that only members can access. Usually they do this while someone is waiting to be adopted. TLC used to be listed on the main page but that may have changed.
      Hope this helps!

  3. Gina,
    What a fun and thoughtful project, and I can’t believe the effort and creativity involved. Thank you for providing the pictures both of the project and of Kandahar.

    I especially liked the bottle of tropical flavored tums. Nice touch!

    You are great,

    Darin L. Hammond

  4. Gina, I love your luau idea, so festive and creative. I know it’s not the gift itself, but the thought behind it that must’ve brought a smile to your soldier’s face. It’s the caring that’s so beautiful.

  5. What a fun way to brighten up what otherwise looks to be a desolate environment, Gina. I can only imagine the luau your adopted troops will put together…would love to see pix of them in their leis and hula skirts!

    • I had fun putting it together. It’s hard to see in the pic but, the decorations also include a 50ft wall mural of the ocean. If you’re going to “escape” the desert, I figured water would help! And I would’ve loved to see them in luau gear They had it and had fun but forgot to take pics. The soldier felt bad afterwards but I told him all that matters was that he liked it. That means my Hawaiian mission was accomplished!

  6. What a brilliant idea, to send a gift box to a soldier. It must really make their day to see a little of what’s back home all packed up neatly as a surprise for them.
    Soldiers spend so much time protecting us all around the world, and they deserve a lot more when they return home but that’s not always the case. Whatever can be done to make life a little easier for them is a bonus.

    Glad that you chose to do this for someone Gina.

    And yes, it’s not a good idea to fly a red kite around but it’s a great idea to keep your mate busy on something else, ha ha ha. Lovely post.

    • Well, I’m not the brilliant Many people and organizations send care packages. But since most of the ones I’ve sent involve beef jerky or needed hygiene items, it’s nice to get a little creative now and then. I completely agree that our troops deserve more when they return. And yes, a kite could keep a mate pretty busy! 🙂 Thanks so much for reading!

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