As the Postal Service says, mail and morale go hand in hand.

That's particularly true now as many Utahns and military personnel from other parts of the United States are serving as part of Operation Desert Shield in the Middle East.And, as anyone who has ever been away from loved ones will tell you, there's nothing quite like a letter or a package from home.

Now is the time to be making preparations for sending mail to individuals who have been sent to Saudia Arabia, other areas of the Persian Gulf or to other locations where military personnel are serving.

Many military personnel come from families who will probably write to them regularly and send packages containing gifts and other items.

But other men and women serving in the military in the Middle East and other areas of the world don't have families - or perhaps even one person - with whom they can maintain contact. They should be remembered, as well.

Utahns with family members in the military in the Middle East should send mail to their specific unit, but for individuals wanting to boost the morale or extend friendship to an individual they may not know, there are ways to do that, too.

The communications section of the Salt Lake City Division of the U.S. Postal Service supplied this information:

In writing to an individual who is a part of land-based troops, address your letter or package to: Any Service Person, Operation Desert Shield, APO New York, 09848-0006.

To write to an unidentified individual assigned to a ship, address your materials to Any Service Person, Operation Desert Shield, FPO New York, 09866-0006.

If they are to arrive by Christmas, letters to military personnel in the Middle East should be mailed before Nov. 26. Parcels going surface mail to that area should be mailed by Nov. 3, and by Nov. 16 if they are sent air mail. The Salt Lake Post Office encourages mailing even before those dates because of the large volume of mail expected.

All American military personnel overseas will benefit from early mailing, not just those in the Middle East.