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January 03, 1991|DALLAS M. JACKSON

Actor Paul Newman sent his Own Old Fashioned Roadside Virgin Lemonade. Mrs. Fields sent cookies. And the California Almond Growers Assn. sent nuts.

But the famous and the corporate do not have a monopoly on sending thoughtful bundles from home or chatty letters to GIs deployed in Operation Desert Shield. Anyone can send packages stuffed with goodies, or become a pen pal to someone stationed in the Persian Gulf. It isn't necessary to be personally acquainted with a specific individual.

"The neat thing about it is that mail is distributed at the small-unit level by a commanding officer, who knows on a day-to-day basis who is receiving mail," said Capt. Betsy Sweatt of the public affairs office at El Toro Marine Corps Air Station. "That way, the commanding officer can get packages to the guy who is not getting any mail."

Letters and parcels can be sent to military personnel either on land or ship; the branch of service can also be specified, if desired.

The address for ground personnel is:

Any Service Member

Branch (optional): Marines, Army, Air Force, Navy

Operation Desert Shield

A.P.O., NY 09848-0006

The address for personnel aboard ships is:

Any Service Member

Branch (optional): Marines or Navy

Operation Desert Shield

F.P.O., NY 09866-0006

"Using the Army Post Office or Fleet Post Office is like using regular mail," Sweatt said. "You do need to consider the duration of the trip, and you don't want to send things that will spoil."

Mail sent to the Gulf can take 10 to 14 days to reach its destination and should be wrapped and treated accordingly. It is also a good idea to mark any packages containing audiocassettes or videocassettes: "Magnetic, recorded tape enclosed."

Since U.S. troops are guests of another country, there are a few items that should not be sent because military personnel aren't allowed to have them while stationed in the Gulf:

* Alcoholic beverages of any kind.

* Illegal drugs.

* Weapons and explosives.

* Pork and pork products.

* Material contrary to the Islamic religion.

* Pornography (defined as depictions of the nude and semi-nude human bodies and all sexually-oriented literature and materials).

There is no ban on photographs showing women and girls dressed according to "accepted American standards of good taste." There is also no objection to single copies of Bibles, prayer books and greeting cards associated with religious holidays.

Aside from the relatively few restricted items, putting together a "care package" or establishing a pen pal can be a creative, personal gesture. If there is any question about an item included in a package, contact Marine Corps Gunnery Sgt. Barney Lewis or Maj. John Sayre at the El Toro's Family Service Center, (714) 726-3610.

The following are suggestions put together by the center:

* Everyday items: Pocket combs, toothpaste and toothbrushes, petroleum jelly, disposable razors, nail clippers, eyedrops, sunglasses, hand and body lotion, socks, lip balm, shampoo, hairbrushes, sun visors, sun block, sewing kits, emery boards, deodorant and insect repellent.

* Food and snacks: Chewing gum, cookies, nuts, fudge, dry soup mixes, health food snacks, beef jerky, sunflower seeds, cheeses, corn nuts, hard candies, canned fruits, granola bars, raisins, dried fruits, Pop-Tarts, pumpkin seeds, popcorn, barbecue sauce and international coffees.

* Stationery and entertainment materials: Blank audiotapes, crossword puzzle books, travel-size chess, checkers and backgammon games, jigsaw puzzles, playing cards, dice, sports equipment, writing paper, pencils and pens, stamps, pictures, dominoes, small model kits, joke books, envelopes, recorded "letters," newspaper clippings and magazines.

Source: El Toro Marine Corps Air Station, public affairs office and the Family Service Center

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