Volunteers needed to help at weekend Supermarket Shopping Sprees Call (908) 698-0333 for further information . . . Nov. 10, Middlesex County College Veterans Club packing, Edison . . . Nov. 14, XI annual Christmas Packing, Manville VFW . . . Dec. 5, V annual Hillsborough Rotary Christmas Packing, Central Jersey YMCA . . .

Help Us Help Them

Operation Shoebox New Jersey is in urgent need of funds to pay for the care packages we ship to our troops overseas.Each package costs approximately $25 to ship U.S. Parcel Post. To ensure the continuous flow of care packages, we must continue to raise funds. Please be as generous as you can, and help put a smile on the face of a Soldier or Marine. Operation Shoebox NJ is a registered non-profit organization. All contributions are tax deductible. Make a donation on-line by clicking on the paypal button below.

Operation Shoebox New Jersey


HOO-rah!! Four Marines at a base in Afghanistan are excited to receive personal care packages from Operation Shoebox New Jersey

Four Marines at a base in Afghanistan are excited to receive personal care packages from Operation Shoebox New Jersey

“Adopt a Soldier” for the holidays

Why not add include a soldier, a sailor, an airman, a Marine or a Guardsman as part of your family this holiday season? Mail call is the highlight of the day, especially during the holidays.

“Adopt a Soldier” and send an eight-pound Christmas care package overseas through Operation Shoebox New Jersey and put a smile on the face of someone far from home and family.

Each box includes two boxes of Girl Scout cookies, three bags of loose candy, a 1-gallon bag of toiletries anda 1-gallon bag of food items – plus we’ll include a personalized Christmas card, just let us know how to sign it.

Send your name and address and a donation of $25 to:

Operation Shoebox New Jersey
“Adopt a Soldier”
P.O. Box 273
Somerville New Jersey 08876

All donations are tax deductible. “Adopt a Soldier” is also a great way for you and your co-workers to spread holiday cheer. We’ll be happy to play Santa for you!

Operation Shoebox New Jersey hosts volunteers at 11th annual Christmas packing at Manville VFW

MANVILLE – Volunteers are invited to join Operation Shoebox New Jersey staff pack gift boxes and send Christmas greetings to U.S. troops deployed around the world at its 11th annual Christmas packing and Santa’s Workshop on Saturday Nov. 14.

The packing and workshop will be at the Kavanaugh VFW Post #2290, 600 Washington Ave., Manville, with registration at 11 a.m., followed by opening ceremonies. Packing begins at 11:30 a.m. A light lunch will be provided.

Soldiers and Marines who were recipients of OPSHBX NJ gift packages are expected to attend and extend their thanks to the volunteers.

OPSHBX NJ will provide crafts material for volunteers to make ornaments that will be packed inside each gift box.

Volunteer packers are encouraged to donate personal care items for shipment, including snacks and toiletries. Check the shopping list on our website and bring along a bag of needed items.

The packages sent overseas will include a box of Girl Scout cookies donated by the Girl Scouts Heart of New Jersey council; bagged Halloween candy donated by area dentist offices and schools; cans of tuna, cans of fruit, trail mix, beef jerky, gum, candy, granola bars, powdered drink mixes, coffee, tea, oatmeal, hot chocolate, toothpaste, tooth brushes, ear swabs, moist wipes, sun block, eye drops, soap, shampoo, socks, stationary, envelopes, pens, batteries and other items.

Volunteers will also have the opportunity to sit down and write a short letter or Christmas card to the troops; all cards and letters will be inserted into the boxes. We’ll also add stuffed animals and other gift items for the troops to hand out to young Iraqi and Afghan children.

Since its founding in February, 2005, OPSHBX NJ volunteers have shipped over 96,000 personal care packages overseas.

Financial support is also needed to help pay the costs of shipping the packages. All donations are tax deductible. Call Operation Shoebox New Jersey headquarters at (908) 698-0333 for further information.



Operation Shoebox New Jersey poised to celebrate milestone event – 100,000 care packages

Operation Shoebox New Jersey expects to hit a major milestone during the Dec. 5th Christmas and holiday packing at the Hillsborough YMCA – volunteers will assemble, pack and ship care package number 100,000.

Founded in February, 2005, Operation Shoebox New Jersey is a volunteer organization dedicated to maintaining a supply line of personal care packages that are shipped to U.S. servicemen and women deployed around the world.

“What’s remarkable is never once have we had to pay for anything that is contained in all of those care packages,” said Rod Hirsch, founder and executive director. “Every item – soap, toothbrushes, toothpaste, shampoo, cereal, beef jerky, tuna, fruit, snacks, and dozens of other items – have been donated by our supporters over the past ten years, and they continue to do so,” Hirsch added. “It is a tribute to everyone’s patriotism and compassion.”

The packing is sponsored by the Hillsborough Rotary. Volunteers are asked to register between 10:30-11 a.m. A light lunch will be provided by the Rotary.

OPSHBX NJ anticipates several hundred volunteers will attend; soldiers and Marines who were recipients of OPSHBX NJ gift packages during their overseas deployment are expected to attend and extend their thanks to the volunteers.

Hirsch said the goal is to pack at least 1,000 care packages with Rotary members and volunteers at the YMCA, located at 19 East Mountain Road in Hillsborough.

Volunteer packers are encouraged to donate personal care items for shipment, including snacks and toiletries. Check the shopping list on the website – www.opshoeboxnj.org – and bring along a bag of needed items – moist wipes; powder; deodorant, toothbrushes, toothpaste, small pop-top cans of tuna and fruits, trail mix, beef jerky and 1oz. boxes of dry cereal.

All care packages shipped overseas include a boxes of Girl Scout cookies donated by the members of the Girl Scouts Heart of New Jersey council and bagged candy donated by schools and area dentist offices.

Volunteers will also have the opportunity to sit down and write a short letter or Christmas card to the troops; all cards and letters will be inserted into the boxes.

There will be raffles with hourly drawings for prizes and gifts.

OPSHBX NJ will also be selling its 2016 gift calendar, filled with photographs of US troops overseas.

Financial support is also needed to help pay the costs of shipping the packages. All donations are tax deductible. Operation Shoebox New Jersey is a 501C3 non-profit corporation; all donations are tax deductible.

Everyone will be encouraged to Adopt a Soldier by making a $25 donation to sponsor a holiday care package that will include a sponsor letter with a personal message inserted into each box.

“We’re hoping everyone will make the $25 donation to Adopt a Soldier,” said Rotary member Dr. Dan Marulli, coordinator of the packing event. “In so doing, they will make the soldier, sailor or airman a member of their family for the holiday season,” he added.

The Hillsborough Rotary works throughout the year to support Operation Shoebox New Jersey.

“The Rotary values its relationship with Operation Shoebox New Jersey and is honored to support our soldiers,” Marulli said.

Operation Shoebox New Jersey will also be selling a variety of items during the event to raise funds to pay shipping costs.


Further information is available by calling Operation Shoebox New Jersey at (908) 698-0333.

New Jersey Heroes presents $15,000 grant to Operation Shoebox New Jersey


Operation Shoebox NJ Founder and Executive Director, Rod Hirsch, and NJ First Lady Mary Pat Christie

TRENTON, NJ (April 13) – Operation Shoebox New Jersey has received a $15,000 grant from the New Jersey Heroes Foundation for the third year in a row.

First Lady Mary Pat Christie announced over $120,000 in New Jersey Heroes grants to 18 organizations previously selected as New Jersey Heroes. The grants, which must be used within twelve months from the date of the award, will help the recipients to further enhance the mission of their respective organizations through new programs and services.

“I am proud our New Jersey Heroes Foundation was able to expand its grant program for 2015 to help these remarkable organizations continue to do good work in their respective communities throughout the Garden State,” said Mrs. Christie. “Our New Jersey Heroes recipients represent such a broad coalition of causes that touch many people in so many ways. With these grants, we’re providing these groups with an opportunity to make an even greater difference by giving them the ability to improve and expand their programs to further reach community members in need.”

Operation Shoebox New Jersey, a volunteer non-profit organization based in Somerset County, has shipped over 90,000 personal care packages to US troops deployed overseas since it was founded in February, 2005.

Rod Hirsch, founder and executive director, was selected as a New Jersey Hero in December, 2011. The First Lady and her staff visited Operation Shoebox New Jersey headquarters in Hillsborough to present the award to Hirsch and to help pack care packages.
“Our selection committee was very impressed with the number of care packages you were able to send, and in turn, soldiers you were able to reach in 2014,” said Casey Mahoney, executive director of New Jersey Heroes.

“Through your community contributions, you are helping to make New Jersey a better place for all our citizens,” she continued. You serve as an excellent example of what a New Jersey Hero is. You are a real inspiration to us and people throughout New Jersey. Keep the great work.”
Since 2013, the New Jersey Heroes Grant program has increased from $100,000 to $120,000 and from twelve recipients to eighteen. Overall, approximately $320,000 in grants has been awarded to twenty-four organizations over the past three years.

HILLSBOROUGH: Auctions raise $20,000 to aid Shoebox group

Operation Shoebox New Jersey hosted its annual wine reception, dinner and live auction on Saturday, Feb. 28, at Room with a View at Neshanic Valley Golf Course.

Former New York Yankee Cy Young Award winner and Somerset Patriots field manager emeritus Sparky Lyle helped the cause with autographed baseballs, a signed copy of his “The Bronx Zoo” book and a signed limited-edition giclee (fine art digital prints made on inkjet printers) from 1977, the year he won the Cy Young Award as the best pitcher in major league baseball.Artist James Fiorentino donated four other limited-edition giclees, including the “Core Four” of New York Yankees teammates Derek Jeter, Andy Pettitte, Mariano Rivera and Jorge Posada.New Jersey Adjutant Brig. General Michael L. Cunniff spent a few minutes emphasizing the importance of deployed U.S. soldiers receiving care packages from Operation Shoebox New Jersey.Joe Bodnar of Bodnar’s Auctions, two-time winner of the N.J. Society of Auctioneers’ (NJSSA) bid-calling championship, helped sell more than 70 items to the guests, helping to raise $20,000. Items were all donated by individuals and businesses, including retailers and restaurants, throughout central New Jersey.

MANVILLE: Rod Hirsch hatched his idea of goodies for troops in ’69

Operation Shoebox celebrates 10 years and 90,000 packages

DATE POSTED: Wednesday, February 18, 2015 5:28 PM EST
By Gene Robbins, Managing Editor

Rod Hirsch, Operation Shoebox NJ

Assemblyman Jack Ciattarelli, Rod Hirsch, Assemblywoman Donna Simon and Brigadier General Michael Cunniff came Saturday to present Operation Shoebox’s founder Hirsch with proclamations and gifts. (Photo by Gary Wiesner)

When he was a high school lad pursuing his Eagle Scout award in 1969, teenager Rod Hirsch saw his fellow Scouts fulfilling their community service obligation by clearing trails and building park benches.

At the height of the Vietnam War, he had an unusual and incendiary notion for the day — to send “goodie bags” to soldiers in Vietnam. His arguments carried the day, and for a year or more he sought and organized donations and mailings abroad.

Little did he think that germ of an idea in Boy Scouting would turn into a fulltime preoccupation 40 years later for Mr. Hirsch, now 62.

Mr. Hirsch is the spirit and force behind Operation Shoebox New Jersey, an ever-expanding idea that brings hundreds of volunteers together several times a year to remind service members abroad that they are remembered and appreciated.

“We’re not a political organization. We’re a humanitarian one,” he said Tuesday. “We try to take care of our men and women overseas.”

On Saturday, working one of two annual packing events in the Manville VFW, volunteers assembled more than 1,000 six-to-eight-pound boxes of personal items and snacks to be shipped overseas.It was also an opportunity to stop and appreciate a decade of public service for Operation Shoebox. Mr. Hirsch was given two rarely presented medallions — one from Governor Chris Christie and one from the state’s top military officer — for his service.Brigadier General Michael L. Cunniff, who, as adjutant general, commands more than 9,000 soldiers and airmen of the New Jersey Army and Air National Guard, was on hand in uniform to make the presentation.The governor commended Mr. Hirsch by letter for positively answering the question of Martin Luther King Jr. — that “Life’s most persistent and urgent questions is ‘what are you doing for others?’”As is normal with Shoebox packages, each soldier’s gift will have two boxes of Girl Scout cookies, three bags of loose candy, soaps and lotions, and sundry items like puzzle books and canned tuna.Every box will carry some handwritten notes from citizens or kids. This week, there were a lot of Valentines from the Hamilton School in Bridgewater, Mr. Hirsch said.Mr. Hirsch is the first to deflect the praise to the hundreds of volunteers who help organize events and continue to donate money and items and time to the effort.

For instance, Manville dentist Dr. Gary Small stood inside the rectangle of tables ready to refill bins from which a constantly moving line of young and old, big and small volunteers plucked items to fill zip-locking plastic bags with the variety of items.

Much of the candy was donated from “buy back” campaigns of Halloween candy by Dr. Small and other dentists.

“Sometimes I just stand back, look around and think ‘holy cow,’” Mr. Hirsch said. It’s overwhelming to think the idea I had would have such lasting power and impact so many lives on both sides of the ocean.”

Before Shoebox, Mr. Hirsch’s passion was as a career newspaperman for 35 years. He left the weekly Somerset Reporter, a successor to the Somerset Messenger–Gazette, in 2007. He still writes freelance and teaches journalism classes at Rider University.

One day, while putting together a feature page for the Reporter, he saw two stories about individuals’ efforts to pursue the same objective of gift packages — examples of caring, sharing and patriotism. It occurred to him that the weekly newspaper might be able to latch onto the idea as a marketing promotion.

His bosses approved, and in February 2005 he held an organization meeting. Steve Kalafer, a major auto sales businessman in Hunterdon and a part owner of the Somerset Patriots, stepped forward with kind words about Mr. Hirsch and a $5,000 check as seed money.

“When he did that, I knew this was going to work,” said Mr. Hirsch.

Today, in addition to earning a living, Mr. Hirsch’s mind is a constant whirlwind. He woos corporate donations in one moment, arranges packing hall sites in the next and checks in with volunteers in a third. He figures out when he can fill his small truck with 24 boxes and take them from Operation Shoebox’s base in the Veterans Industrial Park in northern Hillsborough to the Manville post office for mailing.

He wouldn’t give it up for the world.”It’s very rewarding to know you have touched so many lives in a positive way,” he said.Marine Sgt. Zach Sanders, a recipient of care packages in Afghanistan and the son of Somerset County Sheriff Office Lt. Bob Sanders, attended Saturday to thank OPSHBX NJ volunteers for their efforts.Mr. Hirsch and Sgt. Sanders have been communicating for a few years, and the then-lance corporal agreed to display a “New Jersey Heroes” banner and take a photo with it and fellow soldiers in Afghanistan.The banner had been given to Mr. Hirsch by state first lady Mary Pat Christie when she selected Mr. Hirsch as the ninth “hero” in her program. After it was signed by Sgt. Sanders and comrades in Afghanistan, they signed it on the back and returned it to New Jersey, where it was given back to Ms. Christie in 2012.

Operation Shoebox 2016 calendars now available!

10847813_10154991527715157_7213791508046570053_nThe 2016 Operation Shoebox New Jersey Calendar makes a great last-minute Christmas gift. We selected photos sent to OPSHBX NJ from overseas and blended those pictures with images of volunteers here in New Jersey at packing events and fund raisers. It’s a stirring reminder that more than 150,000 Americans in uniform are overseas helping to make order of a chaotic world. Cost of the calendar is $18. All proceeds will help ship personal care packages overseas.You can use your credit card and pay via PayPal on our website – www.opshoeboxnj.org or you can send a check to: Operation Shoebox New Jersey, PO Box 273, Somerville, NJ 08876. Please, help us to help them. Salute their sacrifice and make them a part of your Christmas holiday. Call (908) 698-0333 for more info! 

Thank You for Your Service Marine Lance Cpl. Brett D’Alessandro, pictured with Somerset Patriots Manager Emeritus Sparky Lyle, at right, and Rod Hirsch, founder and executive director of Operation Shoebox New Jersey was the guest of the Patriots and OPSHBX NJ at the July 5th game. D’Alessandro, a resident of Verona, returned home from a deployment in Afghanistan earlier this year and is working on establishing a non-profit organization, BackpacksforVets that will help homeless veterans.


Thank you from Southwest Asia


Along with the rest of the crew of USCGC MAUI, we would like to extend our warmest thank you to everyone who was involved in sending us so many care packages! On a year-long deployment, your packages, thoughts, and support are most heartily welcomed. The candy and cookies are always a morale booster, and in an area with high winds, sand, and of course, the salty seas, the body wash and moisturizer all went very quickly.

We hope everyone is safe and healthy back at home, making preparations for Halloween! It is an honor and privilege to serve.
Fair Winds and Following Seas,
LTJG Jamie Kim
Executive Officer
USCGC Maui (WPB-1304)
Patrol Forces Southwest Asia

Shopping Sprees

Nov. 7, Saturday, ShopRite, Elizabeth Avenue, Somerset
Nov. 14, Saturday, Stop&Shop, Route 31, Flemington
Nov. 15, Sunday, Stop&Shop, Route 31, Flemington
Nov. 21, Saturday, ShopRite, Route 22, Branchburg
Nov. 22, Sunday, ShopRite, Route 22, Branchburg
Dec. 6, Saturday, Stop&Shop, Route 206, Raritan
Dec. 7, Sunday, Stop&Shop, Route 206, Raritan
View More

Recent Packings

Oct. 7 – The IT Shared Services Regulatory Compliance team at the Johnson&Johnson facility in Raritan joined OPSHBXNJ  volunteers to pack 75 personal care packages.
Oct. 6 – Employees at the Johnson&Johnson Consumer Products facility in Montgomery helped pack 100 care packages for shipment overseas.
Sept. 27 – Girl Scouts from the Heart of New Jersey Council helped Operation Shoebox New Jersey volunteers pack 500 personal care packages for shipment overseas at the National Guard Armory in Franklin.
View More


Thank you from Bahrain


I wanted to say thank you so much to Troop 489- Brothers Ben and Sam Elliott as well as their parents Rob and Shelly Elliott, My fellow Girl Scouts in Service Unit 72, Fire Company #2 in Hillsborough NJ, and your community that donated items for the care package myself and fellow brothers and sisters in arms received!! We are very thankful; you made smiles come across all our faces as we head into these holidays abroad.
A special thank you to Ben, Orchard Hill Elementary School, Mrs. Kotch’s 1st Grade class. Ben please be on the look out for my card to you and your classmates :); Ava and the Basilone family, thank you for your heartfelt wishes; Makensie we love you too; Alexa Ramirez thank you for your kindness; Selina C. thank you for the drawing it is on my desk :); and I received another drawing with no name but to that special little someone thank you. I will send a photo of my staff and collection of cards afterwards.
Your gift was a true touch and we can’t thank you enough. Happy holidays and remain safe. Until we write again
Rachel Singh, PS2 USN Bahrai