OI’S Civilian-to-Military Delivery System®
The cornerstone of the OI Civilian-to-Military Delivery System® is the Civilian Ration® (called C-rat®). Designed for delivery to the frontlines, C-rats are individual quart-sized baggies that contain a personal note from a caring civilian at home and a few items such as snacks, games and personal care products. The most important part of the C-rat is the letter from a person who has never met that Soldier, Sailor, Marine or Airman, but takes the time to write his or her expressions of care and concern.
OI volunteers in 15 distribution centers across the country work with schools, churches, synagogues, civic groups and corporations in their community to create the C-rats. Volunteers pack and ship 50 C-rats per 12 inch cube box weighing no more than 30 pounds. This design accomplishes three key objectives:
- Instead of 100 boxes reaching 100 troops, with the OI system 100 boxes reach 5,000 troops thereby streamlining delivery, conserving resources and opening up the military mail system to allow needed equipment and letters from families to be a priority delivery.
- OI boxes easily load on to supply transports including helicopters and Humvees.
- The plastic baggies make distribution in theater as easy as “grab and go.”
Furthermore, all shipments to the frontlines are coordinated through unit commanders thereby ensuring military resources are not negatively impacted and boxes make it to their intended destination.
(Security restrictions forbid the general public sending items or packages to “any” service member.)
And in the spirit of the “no one left behind” creed, enough C-rats are sent so that at mail call everyone in that unit gets a package. For many it’s the only communication from home they receive.
Only those items that meet the strict standards set by the military and OI are sent to troops on the frontlines.
Support of Military Families and Veterans
OI is also mindful of the needs military families have at home and of veterans who served before. Approximately 25% of the items OI receives are given to family groups on military bases, VA hospitals and other veterans organizations.
Guidelines for C-Rats ®
Below are general guidelines for OI C-rats. All C-rats must be coordinated through authorized OI Area Managers or OI Box Coordinators. To participate you must register (link) with OI as a volunteer.
- It goes without saying that nothing illegal or pornographic will be shipped.
- All items must be small enough to fit in a QUART SIZE (7 in. x 8 in.) zippered plastic baggie. We try to keep the baggies as flat and lightweight as possible. Remember, our troops are provided for so the C-rat is a treat! It is best to include only three or four items in each baggie. The most important part of the C-rat is the letter from a caring person back home.
- All items that go in the eyes, ears, nose, mouth, or on an open wound (band aids, Neosporin, OTC pain relievers/medications, foods, gum, toothpaste, toothbrushes, dental floss, Chapstick, Q-tips, eye drops, etc.) MUST BE SAFETY SEALED BY THE MANUFACTURER. This is the only way we can ensure they have not been tampered with.
- Candy, gum, or foods of any kind that are twist wrapped cannot be shipped.
- Toothpaste that is in a glued box from the manufacturer is acceptable; toothpaste that is in a box secured only with tabs is unacceptable, unless the tube of toothpaste itself has a foil seal.
- Tea Bags/Coffee in sealed packages only – i.e. Maxwell House Singles or Earl Grey Tea.
- No envelopes or stamps will be sent.
- Pressurized cans of any kind will not be shipped by the post office.
- The most important items we ship to the troops are letters from the American people. The notes do not have to be long; just a short note about yourself, what’s going on back “home”, or some words of appreciation. Enlist the help of your family, friends, club, group, local schools, scout troops, church groups, etc.
- NO LAST NAMES, PHONE NUMBERS, AND/OR ADDRESSES from anyone under 18 years of age.
How You Can Help
There are many ways you can get involved! Below are just a few ideas. But remember, in order to be an OI® volunteer you must first register – it’s free!
Make a Donation
Operation Interdependence ® is a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization and donations are tax deductible charitable contributions to the extent permitted under law. All cash donations will be used in a general fund unless specifically declared otherwise. Please make monetary donations to Operation Interdependence and mail to:
Operation Interdependence 2695 Patterson #2-147 Grand Junction, Co. 81506
“Adopt-A-Box” for the Troops
Today there are approximately 325,000 US troops deployed around the world. Our goal is to send each of them a C-rat ® from home every month during their entire deployment. To achieve this we rely on the generous financial support of corporations and caring individuals like you. Our average shipping cost per box is $30 or $0.60 per service member. You can “adopt” boxes of C-rats for the troops! OI will enclose a special letter in each box noting it was “adopted” by you or in honor of someone you love:
- A $30 donation adopts one box and 50 troops will receive C-rats. This represents support for a Platoon during one month of deployment.
- A $90 donation adopts three boxes and 150 troops will receive C-rats.
- A $600 donation adopts 20 boxes and 1000 troops will receive C-rats.
- A $1,800 donation adopts 60 boxes and 3000 troops will receive C-rats.
- A $3,000 donation will adopt 100 boxes and 5000 troops will receive C-rats.
Letters to the Troops
We are always in need of thoughtful, handwritten letters from caring civilians. Troops also enjoy pictures drawn by children.
Setup a Collection Box
Setup a collection box at your office, school, church or synagogue where people can donate product for C-rats. Some have been very creative with this including a day where employees dress up in military fatigues! See the Guidelines for C-rats for products that can be shipped to the frontline. We invite a donation of $1 per pound of product collected to support our shipping costs.
Hold a “Packing Party”
Hold a “packing party” where volunteers make C-rats ®. This involves getting the product and quart-sized plastic baggies donated, writing letters, packing the items in the baggies and raising the $30 per box of 50 C-rats ® for shipment.
Want to help military families and veterans?
Only those items that meet the strict standards set by the military and OI are sent to troops on the frontlines. All other generous gifts will be donated to family groups on military bases, VA hospitals and other veterans organizations. Such donations represent about 25% of OI’s total distribution.
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