Volunteers needed to help at weekend Supermarket Shopping Sprees Call (908) 698-0333 for further information . . . Sept. 19 Girl Scout Packing Basking Ridge YMCA. . . Sept. 29 VIII annual Operation Shoebox New Jersey Golf Classic at Neshanic Valley Golf Course - Golfers, sponsors welcome . . . Oct. 1, Johnson&Johnson/Janssen employees packing, Titusville . . . Oct. 3, Hillsborough Rotary Air Show, Central New Jersey Airport, Hillsborough . . . 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

Vintage aircraft fly in for Military & Veterans Appreciation Day
Saturday, Oct. 3 at Central New Jersey Airport

Click image to download flyer

Click image to download flyer

HILLSBOROUGH – Vintage fixed-wing aircraft and modern-day Medevac helicopters will fly in to Central Jersey Regional Airport on Saturday, Oct. 3 to help Rotary District 7510 raise funds that will be donated to various charities and foundations dedicated to assisting the US military and veterans.

Rain date is Sunday, Oct. 4. Admission is free.

The day begins with an American flag flyover that will circle the airfield during the National Anthem.

Visitors are invited to the Military & Veterans Appreciation Day from 1-5 p.m. to view the aircraft and other attractions, including airplane rides, childrens’ games, fire apparatus and a performance by the Somerville Pipers & Drums.

There will be a raffle for a 1-hour scenic airplane ride for 3 people to New York Harbor and up the Hudson River courtesy of TriState Aviation.

Entrance to the airport is at 1034 Millstone River Road.

Other scheduled attractions include a tethered hot air balloon ride.

The event will include outreach and information for members of the military, families and veterans provided by several organizations.

There will be food vendors, live bands, clowns, face painting and other activities for children.

Walgreen’s will also offer flu shots.

Participating organizations include Operation Shoebox New Jersey and Operation Chill Out.

Rotary District 7510 includes 45 chapters in a five-county area comprising Somerset, Hunterdon, Union, Middlesex and Mercer counties.

Rotary International is a worldwide service organization of businessmen and women dedicated to community service and humanitarian causes.

Operation Chillout, based in Long Valley, is seeking new and unused clothing that will be donated to homeless veterans. Requested items include knit cap and gloves, wool/nylon blend socks, insulated underwear and hooded, zipper sweatshirts in sizes large and extra large.

Operation Shoebox New Jersey, based in Hillsborough seeks donations of food items that are placed in personal care packages shipped to members of the US military deployed overseas. Requested items include canned tuna, canned fruit, 1 oz. boxes of cereal, dried fruit, trail mix, granola bars, beef jerky, boxes of 16.9 oz. packets of drink mix and small snack bags of pretzels and chips.

Both organizations will host displays at the event where donated items can be dropped off.

The airport is located at 1034 Millstone River Road, Hillsborough.

Further information is available by calling Hillsborough Rotary President John Shockley, (908) 576-4333 or TriState Aviation at (908) 576-4333.

Operation Shoebox New Jersey hosts VIII annual Golf Classic at Neshanic Valley Golf Course, Tuesday, Sept. 29

Sign up today for the VIII annual Operation Shoebox New Jersey Golf Classic Sept. 29 at Neshanic Valley Golf Course in Somerset County. Golf Week ranks NVGC as one of the Top 50 in the country!

Best Ball Scramble format, Putting Contest, Longest Drive Contest, Hole-in-One contest and lots more! Grab & Go lunch, Awards Banquet, Open Bar.

Check out attached brochure. Sponsors welcome, Tee Box signs, Contest sponsors opportunities. Call (908) 698-0333 for more information.


Erika Rose at Operation Shoebox NJ


AT&T Pioneers help OPSHBX NJ

Ten members of the AT&T Pioneers visited Operation Shoebox New Jersey headquarters in Hillsborough Aug. 6 to help assemble care packages and bag loose candy for shipment to US troops overseas. The volunteers packed 100 boxes and 811 bags of candy.

Ten members of the AT&T Pioneers visited Operation Shoebox New Jersey headquarters in Hillsborough Aug. 6 to help assemble care packages and bag loose candy for shipment to US troops overseas. The volunteers packed 100 boxes and 811 bags of candy.


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! 


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



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

Jan. 31 – Pathmark Supermarket, Lincoln Boulevard, Middlesex;
Feb. 7 – Pathmark Supermarket, Lincoln Boulevard, Middlesex;
Feb. 8 – Pathmark Supermarket, Lincoln Boulevard, Middlesex;
March 28 – Pathmark Supermarket, Lincoln Boulevard, Middlesex;
March 29 – Pathmark Supermarket, Lincoln Boulevard, Middlesex;
April 11 – Pathmark Supermarket, Lincoln Boulevard, Middlesex;
April 25 – Pathmark Supermarket, Lincoln Boulevard, Middlesex; 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