Wednesday 16 August 2017

Appeal over gifts for Afghan troops

Britons have been urged to stop sending Christmas presents to soldiers in Afghanistan
Britons have been urged to stop sending Christmas presents to soldiers in Afghanistan

Well-wishers sending Christmas presents to soldiers in Afghanistan have been urged to stop - because they are clogging up the postal system and stopping letters and gifts from military families getting through.

Army bosses said they greatly appreciated the torrent of gifts sent to those serving abroad but appealed for people to make donations instead.

Major John Leeper, commanding officer of Operation Herrick Postal and Courier Squadron, based at Camp Bastion, said: "For personnel deployed overseas, personal mail from loved ones is very important.

"Unfortunately though, the system can be completely overwhelmed by the public's generous donations, which results in mail from family and friends being delayed.

"The huge and unmanageable number of welfare parcels sent by well-meaning members of the public, particularly in the run-up to Christmas, causes real difficulties.

"While all of us recognise and are grateful for the public's generous intentions, it would be so much better if members of the public could channel their goodwill into making a donation to one of the MoD's recommended Service charities.

"These charities send out packages - containing items the troops really want and have requested - in a co-ordinated way which does not hold up personal mail, or put unnecessary pressure on resources."

Well-wishers' gifts, while appreciated, can often cause problems, the Ministry of Defence said.

Lieutenant Colonel Gareth Baker, staff officer responsible for operational welfare, said: "All of us in the Armed Forces are enormously grateful for the generosity of people who want to support us. But packages from strangers can never make up for the delay they cause to mail from our loved ones.

"The message is absolutely clear: if you wish to show your support for the troops, the most effective way of doing so is to support an official registered service charity, such as SSAFA Forces Help."

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