On this Memorial Day, I thought I tell you about a worthwhile U.S. charity: Books for Soldiers. It is a Website where deployed soldiers can list the books they would like to read, and then people can volunteer to send the requested books. It is a charity I have supported on and off for the past three years, and it is fun!
While the majority of the requests are for thrillers and mysteries, you can often find very varied wishlists. I have sent The Great Gatsby to a father who wanted to read the book with his daughter, for whom it was required school reading. I have sent Calvin and Hobbes cartoons to a soldier in Kuwait who was as big a fan of the cartoon as I am. I have sent some classics to someone who took an online course in Russian literature while stationed in Afghanistan. And last week, I received a postcard from a medic to whom I sent Gentleman Ambulance Drivers of World War I two years ago. She is on another deployment now, and I’ve already picked out a few new books for her.
While it may seem a little daunting to ship to a military base at first, it is really very easy. If you are just sending a book, it’s easiest to use a bubble envelope and send it as media mail. If you decide to send a little more than just a book—maybe you want to include some snacks—then you can use a flat-rate box from the post office. You will need to fill out a customs form at the post office, but don’t let that deter you. If I can do it, you can do it! (If you are an Amazon Prime member, you can ship books directly to your soldier for free, without having to worry about customs forms!)
There are lots of tips and tricks on the Books for Soldiers Website, so maybe you have a few extra minutes to check it out. While it is not guaranteed that you get a reply from the person to whom you’ve sent a book, if you include your e-mail address, chances are you get a quick note of thanks.
And even if you don’t want to send a book, maybe you feel like donating a little money (tax-deductible!) to the site to keep it running.
Happy Memorial Day!