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Wednesday, Oct. 22, 2014

Utah website designed to make sending military care packages easier

By Jed Boal, Deseret News

Published: Tue, Dec. 10 10:23 p.m. MST

 Mick Garrison created SoldierSend.com after he tried to send a care package to a friend in Iraq and failed. He said it was too time consuming and figuring out shipping was difficult. The site offers a place for people serving overseas to create a wish list and have family, friends or even strangers fulfill their wish. The site sends packages out the day the order is received.

Mick Garrison created SoldierSend.com after he tried to send a care package to a friend in Iraq and failed. He said it was too time consuming and figuring out shipping was difficult. The site offers a place for people serving overseas to create a wish list and have family, friends or even strangers fulfill their wish. The site sends packages out the day the order is received.

(Winston Armani, Deseret News)

NORTH SALT LAKE — Thousands of military men and women are serving overseas, but military life doesn’t always allow for a break on special days.

A new website, soldiersend.com, has created a military gift registry to make sending care packages to soldiers and Marines stationed abroad easier than before.

The idea came to Mick Garrison, CEO of SoldierSend, when he tried to send a care package to a friend in Iraq. He realized that he had to go to several stores and figure out the shipping rules, so his care package mission ended quickly and unsuccessfully.

“I’m embarrassed to say he didn’t even get the package, so I thought there’s got to be an easier way,” Garrison said.

So he did some research and interviewed many people serving in the military and family of those in the military. After two years, he came up with the SoldierSend.com website.

The new site matches the needs and wants of military members with the generosity of supporters — and takes care of the logistics.

"We've streamlined all of that,” said Alex Milne, SoldierSend marketing director. “All they need to do is get on, click, swipe. We take care of all of that."

Garrison said he wants to make sure those serving in the military overseas are not forgotten or taken for granted.

“I think about them leaving their families, especially during the holiday season, and that’s scary,” Garrison said. They’re the most brave people you can imagine. I can’t even imagine what they go through mentally and physically. If sending them some beef jerky and warm socks can make them feel better, I’m in.”

He said no one asks for anything crazy. They usually ask for things like batteries, socks, snacks or a football. “Just fun and simple stuff and goodies," Garrison said. “They want to be reminded of home.”

The soldiers create profiles and can shop from simple and specially tailored lists of items derived from their research and interviews with soldier. Food, personal-care products, footwear, clothes and entertainment that are all geared specifically toward the military lifestyle are available on the site.

People can search for a friend or soldier who is serving overseas and send them a package. Supporters can also just take care of anyone they want to on the registry.

“You can see their picture, you can read a little bit about them, and you can click on their registry and go, ‘Oh, I’d love to send it to this guy. I don’t even know who he is,” Garrison said.

News of the site is being spread through word of mouth, and through social media like Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.

“We’re relying on the military, once they receive items, to spread that word wherever they may be to their base,” Milne said.

While the company is in the process of streamlining its shipping procedures and growing the business, it's not storing a lot of items in a warehouse. But when it receives an order, it is shipped out the same day.

Email: jboal@deseretnews.com

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