For many young Marines (19-24 years old), military deployment is their first time away from family and home. For most, it is also the first time out of the U.S.
No matter age or travel status, many Marines get very, very few (or no) pieces of mail for their entire deployment (usually a year)! This is an absolute travesty!
If you'd like to adopt a Marine, I recommend two sites, though there are surely others.
They will connect people who want to adopt a Marine with a Marine who'd like some State-side TLC and/or who receives very little support from his family and friends at home.
The first is that of Ryan Rust, of Florida Racing Green, a young man who races stock cars, while maintaining a 4.0 grade point average and helping to organize this adoption effort. He and his family work with local Marines and their families to match up a Marine with someone who'd like to "adopt."
You fill out the Web form, and you'll be contacted by e-mail.
This site is of the "loving hands at home" type, and because of that sometimes you are able to be matched with the kind of Marine you prefer (female Marine, Marine in great need of letters, Marine from Colorado, etc.). They'll do the best they can to match you up, but most of the time you receive contact information for Marines' names they currently have.
The second is anymarine.com. This is a larger-scale endeavor.
Marines who would like to act as contacts between deployed Marines and those of us at home, sign up at anymarine.com. We indicate which unit we'd like to adopt, based on information about the unit that the contact person provides to anymarine.com. Boxes and letters are sent to that contact, with attn: any Marine or any female Marine. The contact person then gives the letters and boxes to those to whom they would mean most.
E-mail received from contacts are given on the site, along with information about the contact Marine's unit, such as where they are serving, what their duties are, how many Marines are in the unit, and so forth. Sometimes the contact will tell you where the unit's Marines live in the States or where they were stationed before deployment. Some e-mails are detailed, and some are not. Some are merely lists of items the Marines could use, but most are more chatty and tell something about the unit. Every now and again, the contact person will provide updates on the unit on anymarine.com. Sometimes photos, too!
Read the "fine print" in the "header" when you select the unit.
If you want a particular type of service member, such as a female Marine, you aren't able to state this is what you want. So, if you prefer a female Marine, choose a unit that has females in it. Many have zero. A few have five or so. Very few units are primarily female Marines. If you want a female Marine, you'll have to scour around. (I have been able to find some units with only one female Marine.) I like to adopt female Marines because I figure they could use some more estrogen in that high-testosterone environment!
If you want a unit of a particular MOS [that's military-speak for "military occupation specialty"] or a unit that was stationed at a particular base before deployment, usually such information is given or you can deduce it.
When you choose a contact to whom to write, all things being equal, choose a contact whose unit has a return date the farthest in the future. If mail (especially boxes) is delayed, this increases the chance that your stuff will arrive after your Marine comes home!
This site has a good deal of "detail information" and links to commercial concerns that are benefactors, offer care package items at a discount, etc. By clicking on the emblems of any of the other service branches, you'll be presented with the same format for that branch as with the Marine pages. Or, follow my list of direct links.
I have used both sites but have been able to find particular kinds of Marines (females, for example) through Ryan Rust's program since this is a small organization, dealing with fewer Marines but in greater detail.
Last updated August 22, 2006.