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Build the perfect care package

Whether it’s to show support in a time of crisis, to help someone start a new phase of life or just to let a loved one know you’re thinking of them, sending a care package is like sharing a piece of your heart.

Even a few small items can make such a difference in a person’s day, and most can be found at your local grocery or drug store. Wondering where to start? Here are a few simple care package ideas for six special groups:

Service members

Give your loved one in the Armed Forces a taste of home with their favourite nonperishable snacks – especially ones with extra protein like nuts and energy bars. They may be experiencing a lot of downtime, so board games, cards, movies and even video games are always appreciated. And because they may be on the move, easy-to-carry items like travel-size toiletries and instant coffee or cocoa packs are preferable to full-size. Don’t forget to cheque your country’s regulations for sending items overseas (here’s the info for the U.S. and for Canada).

Cancer patients

Support a friend on her cancer journey with items that will help her stay comfortable, like warm blankets and socks, lip balm, water and snacks. Puzzles, books and movies can keep her busy during long treatment sessions. Add wet wipes and hand sanitizer so she can stay germ-free when she’s out and about. Tuck it all inside a versatile Thermal Tote or All-In® Organizer and include a personal note to show that you’re always there for her.

University students

Your baby is all grown up and on her own for the first time. Help her tackle “adulting” tasks with items like cleaning supplies, laundry pods, a first aid kit and microwave-safe cookware. Encourage her to connect outside of text messages with pre-addressed, stamped postcards to send home. Healthy snacks and single-serve foods will fuel late-night study sessions. Pack it all in a Crossbody Organizing Tote, which – bonus! – doubles as a great school bag.

NICU parents

Having a new baby in the NICU can be a long and stressful experience for new parents. Most-wanted items for parents of preemies include gift cards for local restaurants, gas cards to pay for trips to and from the hospital and snacks for long days at the NICU. Fill a Double Duty® Caddy with self-care items for mom like essential oils, a water bottle and a hardcover journal to document their journey.

Foster kids

Many child welfare organizations collect care packages for foster children, who may have to leave their homes quickly with only a garbage bag filled with a few items of clothing. Build a “welcome bag” for their foster home by packing a Cinch Sac with fun items like crayons and colouring books, stuffed animals and simple games. Include toiletries like a toothbrush and toothpaste, and help them feel secure in their new space with a blanket and nightlight or flashlight. School supplies are another much-needed item for children navigating new environments.

Your local children’s mental health unit

You may be surprised to learn that one in five children is living with a mental illness. Stigmas surrounding mental and behavioural health mean these kids often don’t receive the visibility and support they need. Considering putting together care packages for kids in your local children’s mental health unit with books, puzzles, art supplies and games to help break the stigma and support these kids on their journey.

Looking for more ways transform children’s mental health and support life-changing research? Round Up! your order to the nearest dollar or make a donation of any amount when you shop Thirty-One this month.