Cardboard Shipping Boxes for Troops

Some of my friends and I decided to start a little outreach when we were sophomore’s in college, and we were able to keep it running through the rest of our time at the school and even hand it down to others when it was time for us to leave.  I hear that it is still running smoothly, and has even expanded to surrounding campuses.  We called it “Cardboard Shipping Boxes for Troops”.  It was a very simple idea that started with people dropping off small cardboard shipping boxes at a certain spot on campus.  We advertised that we would get donations from local businesses to fill the boxes with and then send them to military personnel overseas.


Now, my brother had been in the service years before and he readily admitted that getting care packages in the mail from complete strangers was very uplifting, especially when they came with a hand-written letter.  He said that one of of his friends actually got married to a girl that had sent a care package, and he wrote back to her.  My brother did say that things like toiletries were a dime a dozen.  Everyone was sending them.  But what the troops were really after were oreos, or good coffee, or books.  He said that when his squadron got care packages they would unload everything onto a table that was out in the hall.

The table was sectioned off with boxes.  Boxes for candy, boxes for soap, boxes for gum.  Whoever got to open the box naturally had first dibs, and he said that when he came across a box of kettle corn popcorn he snatched it up like pure gold.  So when we decided to launch Cardboard Shipping Boxes for Troops we did go to local businesses for donations, but we went to the local coffee shop and got bags of really good coffee, and we sent a coffee maker for good measure.  We went to the local eye doctors and got sunglasses.  We sent homemade chocolate chip cookies by the dozens.  If we were low on supplies we were always sending out those chocolate chip cookies at least.  It turns out that there is nothing quite so valuable as some of those.

So if you ever get a chance to drop a box off at your local Cardboard Shipping Boxes for Troops site, be assured that the best is being done to send the best possible care package!

Brianna’s Moving Boxes

Brianna sighed and blew a stray piece of hair out of her eyes.  Her forehead was damp with sweat, and the problematic strand didn’t go very far.  As a matter of fact, it blew out and then swung right back and got tangled in her eyelashes.  She sighed and pushed it back, pinning it into place with a clip.  Gathering all of her strength, from the inside out, she picked up another stack of moving boxes.  She tried not to think of the finality, of everything that came with moving.  It was never just as simple as packing your stuff and moving it from one location to another.  The process was stressful from start to finish.  Especially when you had to do it alone.  Especially when it was the end of something that you didn’t really want to end.

In Brianna’s case, it was the passing of her father.  Her mother was moving down south, and the home her parents had shared for thirty plus years needed to be split up, shipped out, and sold off.  Unfortunately, none of her brothers or sisters decided they had room in their garages for moving boxes full of memorabilia, and so they blew off the reality of all the work by saying, “You take it all, Brianna, whatever you want.  We know Dad would want you to have it.”  What this meant was that Brianna got to be the one in charge of it all.  She got to go through each piece of her past, and decide which pile to put it in.  Did it get donated?  Did she take it?  She wanted so much of it, but at what point do you just have to stop?  She wanted to save so much of it for her own children, but how do you choose which things are the most important?

Her mother had run away to Florida shortly after the funeral.  Exhausted and traumatized from the swift and violent sickness her late husband had succumbed to, she couldn’t even begin to fathom shutting down her old life.  She needed it just to disappear.  And that was what Brianna was trying to do.  So, little by little, it disappeared into the moving boxes, and some would go down south, and some would go home with her, but most of it would go home with strangers.  Maybe that was better.  After all, it was just stuff.  None of it would bring her dad back, and she wasn’t getting rid of her memories.

The Difference Between Shipping Boxes and Shipping Cartons, Pt. 1

Is there one?  …Oh, you didn’t hear my question?  It was: what is the different shipping boxes and shipping cartons?  Before taking on this job of writing about packaging and shipping supplies, I would have just assumed that there was none.  In fact, I would have assumed that “carton” was just another word for “box”, and vice versa.  Well, apparently there is a difference.  I scoured the internet for information, searching websites and discussion forums (apparently this question has been asked by more than just myself, and by people who do not write about packaging and shipping supplies.  That is kind of surprising if you ask me, but who am I to judge?).

I have to take a minute to relay what the average Joe was saying about how shipping cartons are or are not the same thing as shipping boxes.  Many of the posts were liberally seasoned with phrases like “omg” and “haha” along with some keyboard emojies that meant to exhibit a great sense of humor, or a sense of bafflement, or even just an expression of being unamused.  If you are so unamused by a question (“who cares?”), then why even bother replying to it?


Perhaps the two most popular answers were: same thing different name, and shipping cartons hold boxes/are compartmentalized.  It seems that both answers are correct.  Yes, you can call a box a carton, and you can call a carton a box, especially depending on which part of the world you live in (as one deeply insightful and well-travelled individual so graciously pointed out).  Another part-time, unofficial anthropologist discussed the history of the orignal words.  For example: carton comes from the Italian word cartone, which means “pasteboard”, and cartons just so happen to be made out of paste/cardboard.  But it’s also true that sometimes a carton holds several boxes (and the example of a carton of cigarettes was used again).  This small-time anthropologist went on to deduce that a “boxwood” is a type of tree, and since boxes were originally made out of wood that is how they got their name.  However, nowadays, most boxes are also made from cardboard, making “shipping cartons” interchangeable with “shipping boxes”.

The whole thing apparently really baffles people, and I don’t blame them.  One thing is for certain, though, and that is that customers tend to use the word “box” and people actually in the packaging and shipping industry tend to use the word “carton”, and this will be discussed further in part 2.

The Difference Between Shipping Boxes and Shipping Cartons, Pt. 2

Welcome to part 2 of “The Difference Between Shipping Boxes and Shipping Cartons”.  These articles are meant to be interchangeable, so if you missed the first part you shouldn’t have a problem hanging with us here in part two.  As a matter of fact, you didn’t miss much at all.  We simply deduced that the word “box” and “carton” are interchangeable because cartons are made from cardboard, and boxes used to be made from trees but now they are primarily made from cardboard as well.  Also, we discussed how you could say that a carton holds smaller boxes of something (a carton of cigarettes was the most popular example).

We ended by saying that a customer would probably say “shipping boxes” whereas a producer slash mover slash individual involved in the shipping and packaging industry would probably say “shipping cartons”.  Why is completely uncertain.

Keeping along the same trajectory of discussion, if you happen to go to a website that sells packaging and shipping supplies they will more than likely refer to boxes and cartons interchangeably.  Their menu probably advertises “boxes and cartons” above “bags” and “cans, jars, and bottles”.  Or if you select “shipping cartons” you are taken to the same page that “shipping boxes” takes you to.

While in part 1 of this topic I primarily talked about what discussion boards had to say on it, this part is more devoted to what I found on actual packaging and shipping websites.  For one of the websites, they referred to their boxes when talking about packing or shipping more household type items, like food and clothes.  When they started talking about shipping cartons, though, they referred to transporting freight.  Which could more or less be the exact same thing said in different words, since “freight” is just referring to “a load”.  Or “freight” could be seen as much heavier and bulkier items, such as a bunch of boxes put into a carton.  Also, it seems that a fairly common opinion is that cartons are made of two different parts, a bottom and a lid.


Once again, at this point in history, it seems like the words “box” and “carton” are more or less used interchangeably.  Whereas at one time the two probably distinguished between products, whatever developments in technology has rendered that distinction obsolete.  Therefore, “shipping cartons” may have differences when compared to “shipping boxes” or, then again, they very well may not.


Cardboard Shipping Boxes in Suburbia

Every day, riding our bikes home from school, we would spot the cardboard shipping boxes a ways off, as if they were a signal to our brains, and we would pick up speed and race past that house with our eyes trained straight ahead.  It was of the utmost importance that we did not make contact with any part of the house.

We all thought that the man who lived there was watching us, and that if he thought you were taking notice of him or his property he would hunt you down and add you to his list of victims.  This is because there was a legend about this guy, who of course lived alone.  His blinds were always drawn, and every window and every door was always closed, even to the garage.  The odd thing about this particular situation was that this man’s home was not in disarray- there was no peeling paint, there were no overgrown weeds and hedges.  He did not drag a metal garbage can scraping down the driveway.  In fact, everyone got the opposite vibe from him.


There was not a leaf out of place on his lawn.  The landscaping was done to perfection, all the flowerbed lines perfectly cut and maintained.  Every single flower and blade of grass was healthy.  We often saw him kneeling on his gardening mat, with a plastic bucket next to him, and he would pick out blades of grass and browning petals.  At his front door there were always those cardboard shipping boxes.  The UPS guy made a delivery just about every stinking day.  We could always expect to see one sitting there when we road by, and then we would checkjust before supper and it was always gone.

We speculated as to why he dealt with so many cardboard shipping boxes, and all’s we could come up with was illegal activity.  We figured body parts, cleverly disguised in machinery.  We figured torture tools, because no one would look at such innocent mail and think: murder material.  I think we all knew that the whole thing was just a story that the neighborhood kids fixated on, but then we were also afraid that it was really true, while we were trying to think that it wasn’t.  Whatever the case, we moved away when I was in seventh grade, and to this day whenever I see cardboard shipping boxes waiting on someone’s doorstep I get a little chill down my spine.