All gifts and donations are greatly appreciated. Cubans seem to be short of just about everything. If you give them something they don’t really need, they have the amazing ability to re-gift items or barter or find somebody who needs what you provided. The problem is that you are generally restricted to what you can take with you on your aircraft. If you bring a big box or suitcase full of donations, you will probably have to pay extra to the airline taking you to Miami. The charter airlines usually charge 1-2 dollars per pound over their 44-pound limit.
In the past I have traveled with groups who shipped large containers of medical supplies from the U.S. to Mexico, then onward to Cuba. That is much more difficult now, so your gifts and medical donations are restricted to what you can bring with you. It’s nice to travel very light and appear to be an efficient world traveler, but consider using up all the space you have and push the weight limits by bringing extra items with you.
Medical donations—I suggest to bring at a minimum a one-quart ziplock bag with band-aids, bottles of Tylenol, etc. If you want to bring more, that would be great. You could probably fill up your bag for less than $10 at a dollar store. Everything is appreciated. You will eventually notice a health care paradox, where Cubans are proud of their universal health care system, but it is chronically short of supplies. (Some Cubans blame this situation on the U.S. embargo; others blame Cuba’s economic system. Personally, I believe both these and other factors contribute to this sad situation.) If you need medical treatment as a visitor, the clinic or hospital you visit will likely have adequate supplies and personnel. Upper class members of society and foreigners (such as from Venezuela) receive some of the best care in the Caribbean. For the average Cuban, health care is very inconsistent. The family members of some of my friends have had to bring linens and food to the hospital where their loved ones were being treated.
Having medical donations will help those of us on our health-care tour gain access to clinics and hospitals. And even if you can only donate a small bag of band-aids to a clinic, you can honestly say that you brought medical donations to Cuba. This helps validate our health-care license and program.