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Operation Christmas Love: 5 Ways to Fill a Military Care Package

12/21/2010 04:16 pm ET | Updated May 25, 2011

We were only two weeks into my husband's deployment. The kids and I happily went to Target and my 3-year-old dutifully kept me on task by reminding me we were there to shop for daddy. It was time to send him his first "box of love." I asked her what she thought he needed. She said vaseline for his ashiness, toothpaste and Q-tips. I thought that was sweet.

"Oh, Mommy!", she exclaimed. "Don't forget a pink purse." I think I had to draw the line there.

The second time we went shopping, it was with way less patience and whole lot less ingenuity. I couldn't think of one single thing to send Kenyon. We had been sending drawings that the kids had done, pictures, notes, knick-knacks and what-nots. Pretty soon, it was going to be called a "box of crap." As I recalled how much it would cost to send him a few boxes per month, and the mental fortitude to keep it all up, I knew it was time to call in reinforcements. "Operation Box of Love" was now in full effect.

If you've ever been stumped on what cool stuff to fill that next box with, try Operation Box of Love. Here's what I did:

1. Emailed all his family and friends. Seriously, all of them. Before my husband left, we got the customary "let us know if we can do anything." Well it was time to call in some favors. I emailed them all and gave them the invitation to join me in keeping him happy with some comforts from home. I told them we couldn't fight the war so we were in charge of his morale. I officially named this campaign OPERATION BOX OF LOVE and included some ROE (rules of engagement).

2. The rules were simple. Fun stuff. Cool stuff. Notes from the kids. Pictures from the kids. Pictures of family vacations. Nothing risqué or questionable. I told them don't send anything they wouldn't show Jesus, just information about what was going in that particular family member's life. Meanwhile, I asked Kenyon what specific things he'd like to receive.

3. I counted out the weeks left for his deployment. It was a lot of them. I assigned everyone a week. Since no one refused to help, they were happy to be told what and when to send a box.

4. I made a spreadsheet with family member's names and week number (beginning with Sunday) for when the box was to be sent. They had a full six days to get it in the mail.

5. I made it a game for everyone. It was a secret to my husband who was up next and what they would be sending. Family members could join in the game by including in their box clues or hints as to who would be sending the next box. It was like Christmas every week for him.

Everyone enjoyed this... and we're still enjoying it until he gets back. This really helps take the pressure off me as I'm neck-deep in the responsibilities I've assumed since he left, and it also helps family remain close to him during this time. The kids and I still send him gifts. And for Christmas we're even planning for that pink purse.