I am having problems logging in. What should I do?
Log-in problems are typically caused by cookie corruption. We recommend these steps.
1) Delete all BFS cookies in your browser; there may be as many as six.
2) Clear your browser cache.
3) Once on the BFS log-in page, refresh the page at least three times.
4) Reattempt log-in.
What is the tax status of BFS?
BFS is a ministry of the Order of the Red Grail, an American non-denominational church. Donations are tax-deductible. You can download our IRS 501(c)(3) approval letter in PDF format.
Are all the addresses on the site current?
Yes. We delete all requests after 30 days to keep the lists fresh and up-to-date.
Can we just ship books or other requested items to you?
NO. We discourage people from donating books or other items directly to us. Sending books to us to forward to the troops adds more than a week to the shipping and doubles the total cost of postage. Why ship to us when you can ship to the troops directly for the same price?
Remember that you can send books, DVDs, or CDs MEDIA MAIL rate. Once it leaves the military post office in the States it is just as fast as priority mail to Baghdad and dirt cheap. Any items sent directly to us are not guaranteed to make to the hands of soldiers or veterans.
Where can I drop off books?
Nowhere. You cannot drop books off at a military base; nor do we have any drop off locations. All books must be sent directly to the troops.
How do I change my screen name?
You can’t. Because of the large amount of requests for this, we have discontinued editing screen names for users. If do not like your screen name, use another email address and register for a new account or contact one of the site Administrators.
I have a lot of books I want to send to a unit. What do I do?
All packages must have an individual’s name on the package. Packages going to addresses with no name are typically destroyed. We suggest looking at requests in the “Group Requests” forum if you have a large number of items to send.
What is an Official BFS Volunteer?
We have added a new layer of security for 2005. To gain access to troop addresses, you MUST register for a BFS account and then fill out and submit the Official BFS Volunteer Application.
I need you to send me an address. Can you send me one?
No. BFS is a self-service site. Once you are approved as an Official BFS Volunteer, simply go to our message board (you can get there by clicking on the BOOK REQUESTS link at the top of the page) and take a look at the posted requests. You will see all five military branches listed and you will then see a long list of requests. Click on a request and the address will come up along with information about what the troop has requested. Once you have SHIPPED a carepackage to a soldier, go back to the forum and list what you have sent so no one else will send a duplicate.
What troops can make requests?
Any deployed soldier, airman, sailor, Marine, or Coast Guardsman who has an APO or FPO address.
What requests will BFS not honor or post?
We will not post requests for pornography, digital devices (e.g., digital cameras), or electronic devices (e.g., video game systems). We try to focus on books, DVDs, CDs, video games, and relief supplies.
Can we send hardback books?
Yes! Any book is better than nothing, but if you have the choice, please send the paperback version because it is smaller, lighter, and easier to carry. If you have a larger number of hardback books, look for requests for books for base libraries.
Can I send comic books?
Oh yes, they are very popular.
What about magazines?
Magazines like Southern Living, Popular Mechanics, Sports Illustrated, Time, Newsweek; just about everything has been requested. Just please refrain from sending pornographic materials.
Can I send romance novels?
Yes, there is not a problem with racy covers as was the case during the Operation Desert Storm. Of course, many troops are not interested in romance novels, so only send them in response to requests for these types of books.
Can you track down a soldier for me?
No. We do not maintain that type of data; for security reasons, we also cannot share information about the troops who make requests through BFS.
I am deployed but need to keep my address private, what should I do?
Send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org with your name APO/FPO address, your .MIL military email address and your request.
My scout troop, church, company or civic group wants to help. Do you have any guidelines?
Here is our advice for a company, scout troop, or church or other group that wants to send packages to troops.
1) Tell everyone. Send out an email, mention the project in a meeting, or send out a memo to everyone in the organization. Tell them about the site and let them get a good look at BFS; that helps drive enthusiasm.
2) Remember to collect funds for postage; always check to see what is the most economical rate for you to use (media rate is great for sending boxes of books). Military bases no longer accept packages for soldiers so you may not drop them off there.
3) Collect the books and other entertainment or care package items (paperbacks, hardbacks, video games, CDs, and DVDs are all fine). You can place donation boxes around your workplace, place of worship, or meeting place. After two weeks, you will probably not get any more donations. Be sure to remind people of the troop support drive halfway through. It is also a good time to remind them to bring in spare boxes to ship and tell them of the packing party to come.
4) Get the boxes. At the beginning of the drive start gathering shipping boxes. Packed boxes that weigh more than 25 pounds are not recommended.
5) Get the customs forms; you will need to complete one for each box you send. Forms are available at your post office or you can order them online at www.usps.com. Especially if you are in a more rural area, you may need to go to several post offices to get enough. Our local post office is out of the forms quite often.
6) Get the addresses. This step should be saved until last; that way you will get the most recent addresses. You must be an Official BFS Volunteer in order to access the message board forums where we post the troop addresses.
Note that you may NOT share these addresses with your group (addresses may be shared only with other Official BFS Volunteers). This is a security measure that is required of us by the Department of Defense. You may, though, print or copy the requests with the addresses removed or blocked out so your group members can refer to them when they are packing the boxes.
7) Have a packing party. Have your group sponsor a cook-out or other event and get everyone in on the festivities. After the hot dogs have been consumed, set up an assembly line to pack the boxes, apply the shipping label, and fill out the customs forms (use neat handwriting). The last step is to drive the boxes to the post office.