The Mail You Send

This list is for the Family & Friends of Peace Corps
Volunteers about to depart for Ukraine. Peace Corps sent it to me, and now I'm sending it along to you!

Now, hopefully you’ve heard this before, but: We really, really want you to write us! Peace Corps is one of the hardest, loneliest things we’ve ever done, and we need to know you’re thinking about us. Specifically, we need physical evidence. E-mail is fine, but a lot of us don’t have access. And nothing, absolutely nothing, compares to a letter that we can hold in our hands. Those of us who are finishing our service and are leaving Ukraine, know that this is absolutely the best thing you can do to support your Volunteer.

We are not too proud. We will beg. (And, just in case your Volunteer actually is too proud, we’ll do it for him. Put this up on the fridge to remind you.) Please, please, please…write us! We need you!

Now, some of you might want to send us something more than a letter. To help you, we asked ourselves a few questions: What was the best thing I got? What made me feel loved? What do I wish someone had sent me? This list is the result.

Some Suggestions

· As much as we would love to get a package, what we really want is to know you’re thinking about us. A nice, long letter will make us as happy as a package.

· Always include a note, even if it’s only a couple of sentences.

· If we ask you to send us a few things, throw something extra in there, too. Everyone loves a surprise.

· Remember when we were kids and dreaded “practical” gifts? Well, now we don’t. Send us socks!

· Remember, it probably won’t come home with us! We love it, we use it everyday, we can’t live without it…but we still don’t want to bring it back. A lot of the things you send us will probably be re-gifted when we leave.

· Almost all packages are opened by customs officials. Presents are unwrapped. Cards are opened (if there’s money anywhere in there, it will probably be found and confiscated). Everyone loses a package at some point, or receives one with half its contents missing. So, don’t send anything valuable.

· If you do need to send something valuable, go through Meest. Even if you don’t live near a Meest location, you can mail a package to them in the US, and they will send it on to Ukraine.

Things We Love To Get

New CDs
Books! Books! Books!
Magazines. Some popular ones are: gossip magazines (like US and People), pop culture magazines
Sunday comics and interesting article clippings

Foods & Kitchen Items
Pasta sauce mix packets (pesto, alfredo, etc.)
Taco and fajita seasoning
Other seasoning mixes, especially “ethnic” flavors
Ranch dressing mix
Tabasco or other hot sauce
Spices: cumin, turmeric, allspice, ground cloves, chili, ginger
Parmesan cheese
Mac&Cheese (or just the powdered cheese mix)
Peanut butter
Energy bars
Hot chocolate
Real coffee (ground) (Caribou or Starbucks are best)
Rice Krispies
Reeses Peanut Butter Cups
Reeses Pieces
Oreo pudding, Jello pudding mix
Ziplock bags
Can opener

A Few Random Things
Body lotion
Family pictures!
Scotch tape with dispenser
Crayola “super tip” markers
Index cards
Random funny dollar store items

Theme Package Ideas

Sometimes it’s easier to put a package together when you have a theme in mind.

Movie Night: a DVD or two, Jiffy Pop popcorn (the kind you take camping, not microwave), junior mints, red hots, Dr. Pepper (or Mountain Dew, or root beer).

Mexican Night: fajita or taco seasoning, hard or soft taco shells, Mexican rice mix, a small can of jalapenos, salsa, a can of refried beans. Sombrero optional.

The Christmas Package: small holiday decorations and ornaments (these also make great gifts for our host families and friends), wrapped gifts, candy canes.

The Any Holiday Package: gifts that epitomize an American holiday. For example, candy corn, a book of ghost stories for kids, a pumpkin carving kit, decorations, pumpkin pie mix and spices, valentine cards, candy hearts. These things make the holiday feel real for us, and let us share our holidays with our Ukrainian friends.

Pampering Kit: face masque, foot scrub, bubble bath, loofa, nice lotion, nail polish, pedicure/manicure tools.

Housewarming: a classic family music CD (that you listened to together), pictures, homemade goodies, candles. Something to welcome us to our new apartments (when we finally get there) and make it feel like home.

Things That Are Available in Ukraine

The following is a list of things that are either readily available to buy in Ukraine, or things that Peace Corps provides us with.

1. Over-the-counter medications
2. Russian/English dictionary
3. Office supplies