Thursday, November 6, 2008

Baking GALS - Food For Thought

As my team host/manager can probably verify, I had a ton of questions about sending a care package to our soldier. I've never sent anything to an APO address before, or out of the country, so I had a million questions floating around in my head. How much would it cost? Is there a weight limit? Do I have to package it in a certain way? How long would it take to get there?

So I packed up Amie's cookies, cookies, and more cookies, along with some Lemon Heads, Blow Pops (I figured they might've missed Halloween), packs of gum, and some Lipton Green Tea On The Go. The package, with all it's sugar coma inducing glory, weighed a little over four pounds!

Luckily, after waiting in line for what seemed like forever (I usually don't do post office lines. I'm APC proficient!), I found myself being helped by a kind, older gentleman who I soon learned had been working there since at least 1996. Unlike his co-worker beside him, he always had a smile on his face and took the time to answer all of my questions. The whold thing ended up costing me about $11 to send via parcel post ($17 for Priority. Next time, I think I'll consider using a flat rate box!).

As he was pushing some buttons on his computer and making markings on the box, the teller, glancing at the name, asked me if she was coming home for Christmas. I told him I didn't know her and explained the Baking GALS project, and he seemed impressed.

But after our transaction was finished and I headed back to my car, enjoying warm sunshine and crisp autumn air, his question hit me like a ton of bricks. Does she get to come home for Christmas? And if not, when does she get to come home? Does she have a family waiting for her? How long has she been gone? How old is she?

When I signed onto a baking team, I felt like it was the right thing to do. I had the time, energy, and the means to participate, and I knew it'd make some people, who are working very hard for this country, our country, very happy. I knew there was a person I'd be sending things too, and as I put together her package, my mind was filled with thoughts of what else she might like. Doing all this made me feel good inside. But for some reason, she didn't seem all that real to me. I've been treating her like a friend who had just gone off to college. I made her cookies and sent her reminders of "home". But you know what? She's not my friend. I don't know anything about her. And she didn't just go off to college. She went off to serve our country. To fight in a war. Thousands of miles from wherever she considers home. Who knows when she'll be coming back? And how many Halloweens, Thanksgivings, Christmases and birthdays will she (and has she) miss?

I suddenly find myself wishing I could've done more. Maybe signed onto multple teams. Perhaps load the box up more with more thoughtful items. Or perhaps instead of treating this whole thing like a project to feel better about myself, actually stop and think about those on the recieving end of these packages.

All this from one simple question asked by a USPS employee.

1 comment :

Angry Asian said...

those are really good questions! and you're so right about doing this as a means more than making yourself feel better, it's really to make our troops feel better, knowing that there are people other than their families thinking about them.

i wanted to see if we could contact amie so we could write a more personalized blurb about her but alas, i just received the address and her short note about herself. i'm hoping in the next round we'll be able to get more info.

you did a great thing adding more than just cookies. i'm sure amie and the people she'll be sharing the cookie/goodies with will love it!

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