Bridging the gap to the Iraqi battlefield

Filed under: Opinion |

This summer, while you crank up your air conditioner, slap steaks on the grill and dive into cool pools, more than 137,000 U.S. soldiers stationed in Iraq will fight it out in a highly hostile environment where temperatures regularly exceed 130 degrees and danger is always eminent.

Although military leaders do their best to ensure a good quality of life, many troops stationed there for an extended period of time find themselves feeling forgotten, without luxury items or the ability to find things that remind them of home.

“Seeing the photos of our men and women in such a dry, desolate place made me want to personally fly over a cargo plane full of presents from home,” says Cynthia McKay, president and CEO of Le Gourmet Gift Basket, Inc.

McKay advises that instead of wallowing in guilt, you can be part of a crusade to boost morale and make sure no soldier feels forsaken.

Mustering her resources, McKay adopted a platoon in Iraq and now sends troops weekly care packages filled with special treats from her business, Le Gourmet Gift Basket, to help soldiers pass the time and to let them know how much they are missed back home.

Filled with items from Le Gourmet’s inventory, her care packages include popcorn, coffee, a myriad of treats and various entertainment gifts. McKay also includes other materials that are often hard to find oversees such as books, magazines and “non-government issue” toiletry items.

“The women especially appreciate special soaps and shampoos,” says McKay, citing the fact that approximately fifteen percent of troops are female.

McKay coordinates and gathers up inventory and pays for all the shipping, which occurs every five to six days so that men and women in the trenches receive a steady supply of goods from home.

“It’s a big morale booster for the troops,” says McKay. “The boxes are always swarmed when they arrive.”

If you, your family, business or organization would like to make a commitment to adopt a platoon and provide regular support, McKay offers ideas and tips on what to send and shares secrets for successful packing.

Suggested Items

n Copy of the local Sunday newspaper

n Magazines

n Movies (Many troops have DVD players on their laptops. Try films such as “The Matrix,” “Mr. Deeds,” “Meet the Parents,” “T3,” “How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days,” “Maid in Manhattan” or “Miss Congeniality.”)

n CDs (Good picks include albums by OutKast; Jay-Z; The Yeah, Yeah, Yeahs, the White Stripes; the Hives; D.O.R.K. and Blink 182.

n Baby Wipes

n Snacks (Send food such as cheese and crackers, nut mixes, beef jerky or popcorn.)

n Books (They don’t have to be new. Some soldiers read a book a day and would appreciate anything.)

n Coffee

n Bug Repellant (non aerosol)

n “Non-government issued” versions of soap, razors, etc.

Packing Tips

n Make sure all food is non-perishable and non-melting.

n Pack toiletry and food in separate boxes. Fragrant stuff makes food taste funny.

n Don’t include too much chocolate. It has a high melting quotient.

n Select food items that are individually wrapped. (Given the choice between Twizzlers in individual packs and a bucket of Red Vines, go for the Twizzlers.)

n Pack objects as tightly as possible. Use magazines or paperback books to cushion more fragile pieces.

“Our soldiers aren’t just doing a job, they are making a supreme sacrifice for us,” says McKay. “Keeping them supplied with a few friendly reminders of home is the least Le Gourmet can do for our boys and girls.”

Find out more about how you can adopt a platoon and lift a soldier’s spirits by sending regular reminders home. Contact Cynthia McKay at (800) 934-4386, or or visit

Article courtesy of Feature Source