C-Rats ®

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.

Here’s what one California girl wrote in her letter:

“My name is Elizabeth and I am six years old. My family and I have filled this little bag with many things just for you. There are things in this bag which you can see, like toothpaste, soap, lotion, and shampoo. But there are many things you cannot see. My heart, my love, my respect, and most importantly, my prayers for you to return home safely to your family very soon.”

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.
  • Candy, gum, or foods of any kind that are twist wrapped cannot be shipped.
  • Toothpaste that is in a glued box from the manufacturer 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. Maxwell House Singles or Earl Grey Tea.
  • No envelopes or stamps will be sent.
  • Pressurized cans of any kind will not be shipped by the post office.
  • 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.