Overseas Holiday Shipping Deadline Nears

October 12, 2004 – Posted at 2:38 p.m. CDT

JONESBORO -- Unless you have access to a flying sleigh, you might need to think about how you're going to get Christmas gifts to troops overseas. It's common knowledge that the earlier you ship, the more you can save. But for troops in the Middle East, mailing early can mean a gift from Santa in time for Christmas.

"Things as simple as a letter make a big difference over there," said, Naval Petty Officer Opey Barr.

"I spent 24 years in the military so I know what the troops are looking for right now. Mail from home is the most important thing they can get," said Daniel McMackin who works at the Jonesboro Post Office.

And the clock is ticking...the military has implemented an October 15th deadline for parcels and packages to be delivered overseas in time for Christmas.

"I've seen quite a bit of packages come across all of the counters for the troops in Iraq," said McMackin.

But the post office has it's own deadline. Sending gifts priority or first class mail will allow you a few extra shopping days.

"If you're going to ship just a normal Christmas card, they're suggesting no later than December 11th to get it there on time. If you're going to ship parcels, packages; if it goes out priority, December 11th seems to be the date they're picking," said McMackin.

Since September 11 th , there have been restrictions placed on mail being sent to troops over seas. Now days you can't send a package or card to just any serviceman, you have to have a name and an address. When mailing items remember, you can't ship tobacco, alcohol, pork or food products containing pork.

"Anything that you receive while you're out there away from home is a good thing and Christmas holiday definitely," said Barr.

If you haven't found the perfect gift yet, don't worry. You can still mail to the Middle East as late as December 20th and have guaranteed delivery through the u-s postal service. But be ready to pay, a five-pound package will cost you about $75 dollars to ship.