Like a lot of people, I'm conflicted about the war in Iraq. I marched against it, but now that we're there I feel we have to do what it takes to fix the situation before leaving. In the meantime, I feel terrible about servicepeople who are on extended tours, risking life and limb for what I feel is is an unnecessary war. Is there anything I can do for our troops?

David, Manhattan

Books For Soldiers and Operation Paperback are two great organizations that collect books and other items to send to soldiers stationed in areas that might not have access to movies or even television. BFS also sends books to soldiers in VA hospitals where long hours in bed or rehab can often be made easier by an entertaining book or magazine.

Before you send anything, be sure to read the sites's guidelines thoroughly. Because these bases are located in the Middle East, magazines like Playboy or Maxim might be considered offensive to local religious beliefs and are even illegal in many Islamic countries. So ix-nay on the ornography-pay. And because of the stress many soldiers are under, keep anxiety-inducing books about Armageddon or biowarfare out of your care packages. (BFS recommends mysteries as appropriate fare over, say, the novelization of The Day After Tomorrow.)

We recently received this request which is making its way around the Internet, in which a soldier describes life on a base and the incredible encouragement a package from home can create for the people on the frontlines of the war in Iraq:

Every single day, we face enemy direct fire outside the "wire" and enemy indirect fire inside the wire (we are mortared and rocketed on a regular basis inside the base).  Your packages will be a phenomenal morale boost. When our soldiers receive your packages, it's a little bit of home 7,000 miles from U.S. soil.  The positive impact of your packages will be immeasurable.  Your package will not only express your care and concern for our soldiers, but also represent a much, much needed break in the monotony we face each day.  We eat the same foods on a 3 week cycle, day in and day out.  We see the same things day in and day out in our small post exchange.

Our soldiers would appreciate the following items: dried fruit, popcorn, candy (hard, soft), Pez and Pez dispensers, gum, cakes, cookies, power bars (EAS, Met-RX), nuts, chocolate (all types of M & M's), coffee (ground coffee, Starbucks would be greatly appreciated, soldiers love and live on coffee!!!), white exercise socks, Gold Bond powder, magazines, newspapers,
soft cover books, and anything else you can think of to surprise our

Why Pez dispensers, you ask? We are told that soldiers often hand them out to kids in neighboring towns as a gesture of good faith. New CDs are also a good way to help soliders feel a little more connected to what's going on at home. "Anything Nerf" is also a common request. (As yummy as your mother's brownie recipe may be, Ask Gothamist does not recommend sending home-baked goodies as they are often flagged by customs and not allowed through to their destination. Better to stick with basic, packaged stuff.)

You can send your package to the following address:

Iron Ranger Battalion and Devil Brigade
CPT Moses Scheinfeld
HHC/1-16 IN
1 BCT, 1 ID (M)
FOB Ar Ramadi/Camp Junction City
APO AE 09394

Priority Mail ensures quick delivery. You might also include a note of gratitude or just a quick hello explaining who you are. It will mean the world to our troops and is a great way to honor their service this Memorial Day.