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Pentagon offers advice on sending gifts to the troops


WASHINGTON -- Nearly 6,000 donated gallons of Haagen Dazs ice cream, 11,300 portable radios, 5,000 Sony "Walkmans," 612,900 fruit juice boxes, 455 camcorders and 250,000 blank videotapes, 20,000 Frisbees and 100,000 packages of M&Ms; have already been delivered to Persian Gulf troops.

In addition, a number of department stores, restaurants and other organizations are picking up shipping costs for donated gifts.

Mail shipments to the Persian Gulf are running at about 382,000 pounds a day, said Dennis Hauck, international military mail coordinator for the Postal Service. Despite the overload, "Delivery to individual GIs is 100 percent guaranteed," he said. "Whether we can do it in timely fashion is another question." Allow at least 10 days, he advises, and mail Christmas cards now.

As gifts, the Defense Department recommends board games, disposable cameras, hand-held computer games, writing materials, rubber -- not pigskin -- footballs, cotton socks and T-shirts, pocket knives, tweezers or shoe laces. As food gifts, the Pentagon recommends beverages in powdered form, individually wrapped hard candies, dry and crisp cookies, fruit cakes, dried fruits and dried meats -- but not pork.

Mail to Saudi Arabia goes at domestic rates; mail from Saudi Arabia is free. To reach a specific service member, you must include his or her complete name, unit number and APO number.

Packages intended for random "equitable distribution" by the military should be addressed "Any Servicemember." Such packages intended for Army, Air Force and Marine Corps troops in Saudi Arabia should be addressed: Any Servicemember, Operation Desert Shield, APO New York, 09848-0006. Mail for unnamed Navy and Marine Corps personnel aboard ships should be addressed: Any Servicemember, Operation Desert Shield, FPO New York, 09866-0006.

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