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Christmas Around the World

The holiday season is once again upon us. Most of us will spend the holidays at home, surrounded by the ones we love. There is a large group of citizens, however, who don't have that luxury. Citizens who willingly sacrifice time with their families so you will have the freedom to enjoy time with yours: thousands of United States Military personnel deployed to Bosnia, Kosovo, the Gulf, Korea, remote sites, and ships/subs, all over the world.

There are several ways that we, safe in our homes, can help make the holidays a little brighter for those who give us our freedom.

Operation Dear Abby. The Pentagon has kicked off its annual "Operation Dear Abby" partnership with the famed advice columnist who solicits Americans to send holiday greeting cards and letters to servicemembers stationed overseas.

For the last 16 years, Abigail Van Buren, through her nationally syndicated column, has asked letterwriters to bring goodwill and cheer to the men and women of the U. S. armed forces during the holiday season.

Cards and letters should weigh 13 ounces or less and should be sent to "Any Servicemember" at the following addresses:

  • For servicemembers stationed in Europe and South West Asia, send letters to: Operation Dear Abby, APO AE 09135.
  • For servicemembers stationed in the Mediterranean Basin, send letters to Operation Dear Abby, FPO AE 09646.
  • For servicemembers stationed in the Far East, send letters to Operation Dear Abby, APO AP 96285.
  • For servicemembers stationed in the Pacific Basin, send letters to Operation Dear Abby, FPO AP 96385.

Major U. S. military aerial mail terminals and fleet mail centers overseas are being used as mail hubs. The hubs will receive the mail and distribute it to all services in their respective areas.

Correspondence can be sent through Jan. 15, 2001. After that date, the hubs will close and will no longer accept mail for these addresses.

Additional information about Operation Dear Abby is available on the Internet at: http://www.hqda.army.mil/mpsa/programs.html#dearabby

Operation Christmas Card 2000. Homefront invites you to join their efforts to help deployed military personnel obtain Christmas cards to send home to their loved ones. In several cases, military personnel are stationed at locations where they can't purchase Christmas cards, or where there is an extremely limited supply. The folks at homefront take donated, unused spare Christmas Cards and help distribute them to deployed service men and women where needed.

You can get more information about Operation Christmas Card 2000 at: http://www.operationchristmascard.org/

The USO. The USO is chartered by Congress as a non-profit charitable corporation. It is not a part of the United States Government. It is endorsed by the President of the United States and the Secretary of Defense. Each President has been the Honorary Chairman of the USO since its inception. The USO mission is to provide morale, welfare and recreation-type services to uniformed military Personnel. The original intent of Congress-and enduring style of USO delivery-is to represent the American people by extending a "Touch of Home" to their military members. Thus, although some USO programs/services are similar to those provided by other agencies, the hallmark of the USO has been and will continue to be HOW, as much as WHAT, services are provided.

Nearly Eighty cents of every dollar spent by the USO goes directly to programs and services to support service men and women and their families overseas.

You can make a donation to the USO by visiting: http://www.giveuso.org/

Military Mail. Everybody has good intentions when selecting and sending gifts, but good intentions will carry one only so far if packages arrive too late or damaged.

To assist people in sending gifts out on time, Military Postal Service Agency experts each year publish deadlines to get cards and packages in the mail. To ensure cards and packages arrive at their destination by Christmas, experts recommend the following guidelines.

  • Packages going to military APO and FPO addresses sent standard mail must be shipped by Nov. 6.
  • Space-available mail, or SAM, must be sent by Nov. 27.
  • Parcel airlift mail, or PAL, must be sent by Dec. 4.
  • First class letters and cards and packages sent by priority mail should be mailed by Dec. 11 to ensure on-time delivery.

SAM packages are first transported domestically by surface and then overseas by air on a space-available basis.

SAM parcels must be less than 15 pounds and 60 inches in length and girth combined.

PAL service is space-available air transportation for parcels up to 30 pounds and 60 inches in length and girth combined.

Different fees apply for standard mail, SAM, PAL and priority mail.

Special Note: Some Muslim countries (such as Saudi Arabia) have laws against displaying Christian symbols. Please keep that in mind when sending cards and letters to the Persian Gulf (Southwest Asia). You'll not want to use envelopes with Christmas decorations on them as customs may refuse to allow them to enter the country.

Some of the Above Information Courtesy of DOD Newsreleases

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