“If you find it in your heart to care for somebody else, you will have succeeded.” ~Maya Angelou
CARE Package: The CARE Package was the original unit of aid distributed by the humanitarian organization CARE (Cooperative for Assistance and Relief Everywhere). Although “CARE Package” is a registered trademark, the term has become widely adopted as a generic term for a parcel of food or supplies sent for relief or comfort purposes.
Thanks Mom, for our first care package received in Okinawa! It actually got to Japanese customs on the 17th, and after mailing from the states only on the 12th, I’d say that was fantastic service. As much as many Americans may speak poorly about the USPS, having traveled extensively on 5 continents, I can proudly and assuredly say that we in the United States have the best postal system on the planet…for the cost paid. The package was waiting for us by the time we got our keys and finally around to our PO Box to pick up mail, so, in the infamous words of Bush, “Mission Accomplished,” but for real, this time.
In 1945, the newly-formed CARE organization initiated a program to send food relief to Europe, where large numbers of people were at serious risk of starvation in the devastating wake of World War II. The organization obtained permission from the US government to send army surplus “10-in-1” food parcels to Europe. The “10-in-1” parcels were also prepared for the planned (but never carried out) invasion of Japan, and delivered later throughout Asia and the Pacific. Americans were given the opportunity to purchase a CARE Package for $10USD to send to friends or relatives overseas, where packages were guaranteed to arrive within four months. Even when a donor did not know an address of a beneficiary, CARE would do everything possible to find that person using the last address known and network of contacts and distribution centers abroad. The CARE package in that way became a “missing person” service in the chaos following World War II.
However, in more modern times, we have domestic customs with which to deal on the international stage. Administrative burdens seem to become the rule and standard, you know, when your population is no longer starving and in dire need from abroad. The customs and military officials on Okinawa are nice enough people though to leave this note and all, a step up from our friends at the TSA. Oh, and they did a bang-up job re-taping the box. Mom, good stuff to know if case you’re planning on sending any contraband, like say weapons, or even more frightening and dangerous, Minnesota vowels.
The contents of a CARE Package in the 1940s is approximated by:
1 lb beef in broth
1 lb steak and kidneys
8 oz liver loaf
8 oz corned beef
12 oz luncheon loaf (like Spam)
8 oz bacon
2 lbs margarine
1 lb lard
1 lb fruit preserves
1 lb honey
1 lb raisins
1 lb chocolate
2 lbs sugar
8 oz egg powder
2 lbs whole-milk powder
2 lbs coffee
First thing I did actually was have a “Cup-o-Joe.” And for those not in the know, this term originated in the Navy as a slang and rather unflattering reference to Secretary of the Navy “Joe” Josephus Daniels, who decided to ban liquor aboard ships on November 24, 1913. As added trivia, traditional Navy coffee is in fact brewed very strong, with up to 3 times the amount of more standard measures of grounds, while a pinch of salt is often added to reduce the acidity of the brew….
Those who have never traveled far, far away from home cannot truly understand how substantial of an impact and boost in morale come from the simple act of receiving mail, let alone getting a gaggle of goodies to enjoy. Tastes, trinkets and memories of home can help to renew a spirit that can become mired, lost and confused in its wanderings through a distant, unfamiliar foreign land.
In our case, we have replaced the rather lame coffee pot in our room with the kick-ass hot pot, courtesy of Mom. Jody says thanks for the coffee, AGAIN (she hates coffee and wishes to remind her mother about a past coffee machine gift – wink). Nah, Jody got some stress-reducing chamomile tea, perfect for the tense daze these days getting settled on the island. And, no worries Mom, electrical appliances from America do work in Japan, although off-base appliances that heat or cook do so a little slower since the electrical standard here is 100VAC vice America’s 110VAC. When it comes to electricity, size matters, even 10%, regardless of what anyone might say on the subject!
CARE packet contents were also adapted for different cultural diets as well as non-food items including tools, blankets, school supplies, and medicine as needed and most appropriate. Later in the 1940s, the program was expanded throughout Asia, recognizing the vast need there as well once Europe become more stabilized.
Those of you that have friends or relatives overseas, irrespective of why they may be there, in service of their country or not, would deeply value such a taste of home. But what they would cherish and embrace is the thought and love put behind the deed of assembling and sending care from such distance. If you have ever thought- about-that-care-package-that-you’ve-always-meant-to-send-but-just-never-got-around-to-it, now’s your chance.
Just do it. Even though your loved ones aren’t literally starving as back in the day, they are in a very real sense starved for home. In bringing Home to their homes, where ever they may be, you have truly succeeded in caring…from afar. Thank you, Mom.