Become A Volunteer
1 – BECOME A VOLUNTEER
Before you can be given access to the troop requests posted on the BFS bulletin board, you must first register for an account and send a notarized form. You can get one HERE. This will give you access to most troop requests. There are some requests that require OpSec (operational security), meaning they cannot post their address publicly. These addresses are post in our Soldiers Requesting Privacy forum. To gain access to these sensitive addresses, you must become an Official Volunteer (OV). To become an OV, you must complete the brief application form (download the PDF here), have it notarized and mail it to us. We realize this is complicated, but we do this to help keep the soldiers safe.
NOTE: When you register, if you have any problems, please e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. Mention your USER ID and e-mail account you used to register or tried to register. Please do not tell us the password you used. Thank you so much for your patience. Also, we have some really strict anti-spam software in place. Unfortunately, it can accidentally flag you as spam. If that happens (it will tell you), do please contact us.
2 – GET AN ADDRESS
Once you are approved as an Official BFS Volunteer, go to our online bulletin board and review the requests posted from soldiers, airmen, marines, and sailors; there are hundreds of them! Scroll through the names and pick someone whose request has not yet been filled.
We also list requests for larger units of troops (e.g., platoons, companies); you may be especially interested in responding to these requests if you have a large number of books or other items to send.
3 – SEND A BOOK OR OTHER REQUESTED CARE PACKAGE ITEMS
Try to send what the troop requests (some will just request “anything”). It’s fine to send used books, DVDs, or CDs; if you have old paperback books that are in good shape, send them (note, though, that it is illegal to send pornography to the areas where most deployed military personnel are now serving). You may also wish to include other needed items to fill the package. See the Care Package Help Guide below for ideas!
Try to send packages in something about the size of a shoe box or similar for quick delivery. The post office also has flat rate boxes that are a good size for mailing to troops. Be sure to include a note and your email address in your package; you could come away with a pen pal!
4 – TELL US ABOUT IT
If you send a package, post what you sent on the bulletin board under the troop’s name. This keeps them from getting multiple copies of the same item and helps us keep track of when requests are filled.
5 – DONATE FUNDS
We try to fulfill all requests that are left unfilled by people at home. Our average cost for a book or care package going to a soldier overseas is about $20; this includes, for example, a book, postage, a brief note, and a small care package. Your donation is deeply appreciated.
5 – SUBMIT A REQUEST FOR A LOVED ONE
If you have a loved one who is serving overseas, submit a request for him or her through the form on the BFS homepage, or ask BFS staff to post a request on the bulletin board and BFS and our Official Volunteers will try to fulfill the request.
6 – TELL OTHERS ABOUT US
If you have co-workers or friends who have family members serving, please tell them about us. We also ask that you mention us in your church bulletin or organization’s newsletter. You can also email your friends about our site. All help is appreciated. We are always looking for more volunteers!
Care Package Help Guide
Avoid sending any type of food unless you personally know the soldier you are sending to. These days, most throw it away if they do not know the sender.
Here are some alternative items that would be better than food…
AT&T phone cards
Baby wipes and body wipes
Waterless hand sanitizer
Saline nasal spray
Soap (non-scented because bugs like scented items)
Shampoo (non-scented because bugs like scented items)
Baggies with Zip Lock
“Gold Bond” type anti-fungal powders
fleece gloves, scarves and blankets
lotion (non-scented because bugs like scented items)
Lidocane 4% cream
If you do send food, we recommend that ANYTHING you send be packaged and factory sealed. Due to concerns for the health and safety of the soldiers, and as much as we don’t want to say this, please do not send home-cooked anything to soldiers other then to your relatives or people who know you. Factory packaged only. Sorry. The soldiers are told to throw away anything that is not in a factory package.
We also recommend that all food items be sent in an individual zip-loc bag so the soldiers can have an easier time of packing their meals for the day. The bags are also useful for a host of other things.
Some other items we have seen requested include the following…
Beanie Baby toys to give the refugee kids. Baseballs, old ball gloves, footballs, frisbees and as one solider put it “anything made by Nerf.”
Try to keep your package the size of a shoe box or similar. When we send out a box, we use FLAT RATE BOXES that the US Postal Service offers. It is a very good deal – you can cram as much as you can in the box and shipping is a flat $12.95. Also, the boxes are FREE from the US Post Office.
Large packages over 25 pounds probably will not get through or they will be greatly delayed or disposed of before they reach the soldier.