OI’S Civilian-to-Military Delivery System®
The cornerstone of the OI Civilian-to-Military Delivery System® is the Civilian Ration® (called C-rat ®). Designed for delivery to the frontlines, C-rats are individual quart-sized baggies that contain a personal note from a caring civilian at home and a few items such as snacks, games and personal care products. The most important part of the C-rat is the letter from a person who has never met that Soldier, Sailor, Marine or Airman, but takes the time to write his or her expressions of care and concern.
OI volunteers in 15 centers across the country work with schools, churches, synagogues, civic groups and corporations in their community to create the C-rats.
Volunteers pack and ship 25 C-rats per large flat-rate postage box weighing no more than 15 pounds. This design accomplishes three key objectives:
Instead of 100 boxes reaching 100 troops, with the OI system 100 boxes reach 2,500 troops thereby streamlining delivery, conserving resources and opening up the military mail system to allow needed equipment and letters from families to be a priority delivery.
OI boxes easily load on to supply transports including helicopters and Humvees.
The plastic baggies make distribution in theater as easy as “grab and go.”
Furthermore, all shipments to the frontlines are coordinated through unit commanders
thereby ensuring military resources are not negatively impacted and boxes make it to their intended destination. (Security restrictions forbid the general public sending items or packages to “any” service member.)
Furthermore, in the spirit of the “no one left behind” creed, enough C-rats are sent so that at mail call everyone in that unit gets a package. (For many it’s the only communication from home
they receive and only those items that meet the strict standards set by the military and OI are sent to troops on the frontlines.)
What sets OI apart from other organizations is our philosophy that “less is more.” Our goal is to provide each of the nearly 325,000 deployed troops around the world with something from home every month during their entire deployment – and to do so without bogging down the military mail system or taking away from the mission. The OI Civilian-to-Military Delivery System ® reaches more by sending less.
The cornerstone of our system is the Civilian Ration ® (called C-rat ®). Designed for delivery to the frontlines, C-rats are individual quart-sized baggies that contain a personal note from a caring civilian at home and a few treats such as snacks, games and personal care products. The most important part of the C-rat is the letter from a person who has never met that Soldier, Sailor, Marine or Airman, but takes the time to write his or her expressions of care and concern.
Guidelines for C-Rats ®
Below are general guidelines for OI C-rats. All C-rats must be coordinated through authorized OI Area Managers or OI Box Coordinators. To participate you must register (link) with OI as a volunteer.
*It goes without saying that nothing illegal or pornographic will be shipped.
*All items must be small enough to fit in a QUART SIZE (7 in. x 8 in.) zippered plastic baggie. We try to keep the baggies as flat and lightweight as possible. Remember, our troops are provided for so the C-rat is a treat! It is best to include only three or four items in each baggie. The most important part of the C-rat is the letter from a caring person back home.
*All items that go in the eyes, ears, nose, mouth, or on an open wound (band aids, Neosporin, OTC pain relievers/medications, foods, gum, toothpaste, toothbrushes, dental floss, Chapstick, Q-tips, eye drops, etc.) MUST BE SAFETY SEALED BY THE MANUFACTURER. This is the only way we can ensure they have not been tampered with.
*Toothpaste that is in a glued box from the manufactuer is acceptable; toothpaste that is in a box secured only with tabs is unacceptable, unless the tube of toothpaste itself has a foil seal.
*Tea Bags/Coffee in sealed packages only – i.e. Maxell House Singles or Earl Gret Tea.
*Pressurized cans of any kind will not be shipped by the post office.
*Candy, gum, or foods of any kind that are twist wrapped cannot be shipped.
*No envelopes or stamps will be sent.
*The most important items we ship to the troops are letters from the American people. The notes do not have to be long; just a short note about yourself, what’s going on back “home”, or some words of appreciation. Enlist the help of your family, friends, club, group, local schools, scout troops, church groups, etc.
*NO LAST NAMES, PHONE NUMBERS, AND/OR ADDRESSES from anyone under 18 years of age.
We Provide Consistent, Long-Term Support
Troops have been deployed around the world for decades and will continue to be for years to come. Our model is designed to create consistent, long-term support of deployed troops.
Does Not Bog Down Military Mail System
OI does not contribute to the logjam of packages often experienced by the military. Instead of 100 boxes reaching 100 troops, with the OI Civilian-to-Military Delivery System ®, 100 boxes reach 2,500 troops thereby streamlining delivery, conserving resources and opening up the system to allow needed equipment and letters from families to be a priority delivery. Plus the C-rats make distribution in theater as easy as “grab and go.”
All participants in the program are required to register before they can proceed. All C-rats are packed and thoroughly inspected by trained OI volunteers before being shipped.
Does Not Compete with Military Exchanges
Many civilians don’t realize that Military Exchanges serve a vital role in the life of military personnel. Not only do they offer products at competitively low prices to deployed troops and families on base, but earnings from sales pay for military morale, wellness and recreation programs. By sending small amounts of goods every month, OI does not compete with the Military Exchange sales.
Adheres to Joint Ethics Regulation
The Joint Ethics Regulation strictly prohibits any federal employee from receiving cash or one time gifts that exceed $20 in value. Additionally, gift items may not exceed $50 (aggregate) from the same source during any calendar year. OI ensures that this Ethic Regulation is not violated and the integrity of the soldier is not compromised. The value of OI C-Rats range from $3 – $4 each and for a 12 month tour the soldier would only receive up to $48 dollars worth of C-Rats, which is below the $50 a year limit.
Support of Military Families and Veterans
OI is also mindful of the needs military families have at home and of veterans who served before. Approximately 25% of the items OI receives are given to family groups on military bases, VA hospitals and other veterans organizations.
Where Units/Coordinator/Reps Are
- Grand Junction, CO (Home Office)
Los Angeles, CA
Laguna Niguel, CA
Dana Point, CA
Ft. Myers, FL
Tarpon Spring, FL