By Sharon Foster
American Forces Press Service
Oct. 27, 2008 - Whether you are a young soldier leaving boot camp for a tour in Germany or a seasoned military police officer working in Iraq, receiving a care package from home can be a huge pick-me-up. A Web site launched in September provides many ideas to families and friends wanting to send care packages to love ones stationed abroad. Abby Tymchak of Wayne, N.J., was inspired to create the site, called "The Soldiers Family," when she found out her husband, Army Sgt. Scott Kowalski, was being deployed overseas for at least a year. Initially, she said, she did not want to think about the deployment, but after reality set in, she realized their relationship was going to be through the mail for a year.
"One of the things my husband stressed to me on his first deployment in 2003 to Cuba was how much care packages from home helped him," Tymchak said. "He wanted me to send him lots of care packages, because they really help him to keep going."
In collecting and packing items for her husband, Tymchak started gathering ideas from friends who had deployed spouses and friends in the military who had been deployed themselves. With so much information, Tymchak said, she wanted to share it with others. She decided to launch the Web site to share ideas, she said.
"I have been building this Web site since the beginning of summer, and I was finally ready to launch it in late September," Tymchak said. "I set up the Web site in a way so that everyone -- including friends, parents, spouses and children -- can go to it and get ideas as well as share their ideas on the Web site forum."
Tymchak's Web site not only gives care package ideas for spouses, children, family and friends, but also shares holiday care package ideas, such as sending a soldier "Halloween in a Box," filled with tricks and treats. The Web site also includes a list of items commonly requested by deployed servicemembers and provides information on how to package and ship care packages.
"My Web site is not only a place to get information, but a place that everyone can share their own ideas," Tymchak said. "It's not just for friends and family of servicemembers, but the servicemembers themselves can submit ideas and talk about things they received that meant a lot to them."
The Web site does not currently mail care packages, but Tymchak has not ruled out the idea.
"I am always keeping my options open, and that might become a possibility," she said. "This Web site will continue to be a work in progress as I continue to create new ideas for those out there who are a part of our military."