Military Care Packages |

Story by MC1 Edwin Bryan, US Navy -

Let’s be honest, sending a military care package isn’t as easy as it sounds. Yet for deployed service members, receiving one can be the highlight of their week. But knowing how, what, and where to send your love and support can be overwhelming. So, creating an easier way to send military care packages to troops around the world became the goal for one active duty Sailor.

“Having been deployed, bouncing around the Fleet and away from my family, I know how important a care package can be,” said Chelsea Mandello, founder of Troopster, a user-friendly online military care package website. The company was launched on Thanksgiving, and offers family and friends of deployed service members a hassle-free way to build, buy, and send care packages instantly.

As a Navy photojournalist, Mandello knows the hope and happiness that a care package can bring when service members are away from home. She has been deployed for nearly two out of the last three years aboard nine different ships.

“After a very difficult deployment, I had it in my head that I would send care packages to all of my friends still deployed,” said Mandello. “But I was surprised to discover that there weren’t any good sites that made it easy to build and send care packages.”

An easy to navigate website, Troopster provides the option of buying pre-built care packages, or building a package from more than 300 products like specialty toiletries, desirable electronics, tasty snacks, and comfy apparel.

[The website is] very well designed,” said Aliscyn DiPerna, mother of a deployed Sailor, on the Troopster Facebook Page. “[It] makes sending your son, daughter or anyone in the military a gift that they will love a lot easier since [the service is provided] by someone who has been deployed and knows what [service members] want.”

Mandello builds care packages weekly, and ships them around the world through the United States Postal Service. Items are packed in bubble wrap and a four-foot “drop test” is used to ensure the items will be able to withstand the important journey. 

“Each week I’m adding new products,” said Mandello. "I’m reaching out to deployed service members to determine the popular items they want and need, and I want to partner with local businesses to do so.”

According to the Troopster Local Support page, Mandello plans to utilize businesses in the Hampton Roads area such as Jody’s Gourmet Popcorn, located in Virginia Beach, and Norfolk Coffee and Tea Co. in downtown Norfolk.

“I think Troopster is a fantastic idea and has been needed for a long time,” said Chris Stephanitsis, co-owner of Norfolk Coffee and Tea Co. “This will be a great way to build the morale for the Troops and we are happy to be involved.”

Care packages are a symbol of love and support for those serving around the world, and for parents, spouses, and family members, building and sending a care package is now easier than ever.

For more information about Troopster, please visit: