Erika Rose at Operation Shoebox NJ
AT&T Pioneers help OPSHBX NJ
Wounded Warrior Amputee Softball Team visits Bound Brook May 30 for 2 charity softball games
Benefit includes Operation Shoebox New Jersey Packing event
The all-day benefit will be at Billian Field, 544 East Union Ave., Bound Brook.
There will be two games at 1 p.m. and 3:15 p.m. Admission is free.
Operation Shoebox New Jersey will host a packing of personal care packages for US troops adjacent to the ball field prior to and during both games, beginning at 11 a.m.
The games are sponsored by the NJABL; all proceeds benefit the WWAST and OPSHBX NJ.
The NJABL will host a “Home Run Derby” with players from both teams competing in an elimination match to help raise funds featuring special guest and International home run king Domingo Ayala. A renowned baseball instructor and celebrity, Ayala promises to step up to the plate to help the cause. In the Dominican Republic, Domingo has been a 7-time Infielder of the Year and 6-time Outfielder of the Year award winner.
NJABL players have paid a registration fee to compete, with all proceeds from the Home Run Derby donated to WWAST and OPSHBX NJ.
The NJABL will also be selling specially-designed shirts and hats to raise donations; a food vendor will be open all day adjacent to the field, with a portion of the sales donated to the cause.
The WWAST is comprised of young, competitive, athletic veterans and active duty soldiers who have lost limbs. The team includes individuals with a variety of amputations — of the arm, above knee, below knee, bilateral below knee, and foot. Some are still in the service, others are attending college while others have moved on to new careers. They now travel the country playing able-bodied teams in competitive, celebrity and exhibition softball games, bringing their special brand of softball, courage and inspiration, according to David Van Sleet, CEO & General Manager of WWAST.
“Our goal is to support and honor our soldiers and veterans’ sacrifices, and to show other amputees and everyone who sees or hears about us that life without a limb is limitless,” Van Sleet said. “Our mission is to inspire and educate others while enhancing the health and welfare of Wounded Warrior Amputees,” he added.
“Our softball program inspires and educates everyone who watches our games, including other amputees and anyone who has challenges to overcome,” Van Fleet said. “It also enhances the health and welfare of the Wounded Warrior amputees who play on our team.”
Founded in March, 2011, the WWAST has played games in hundreds of cities and towns in 32 states, according to Van Sleet.
“We are honored to share the field on this special day with the Wounded Warriors Amputee Softball Team,” said Rod Hirsch, founder/executive director of Operation Shoebox New Jersey. “What a privilege it will be to cheer for these true American heroes.”
Operation Shoebox New Jersey expects to pack upwards of 500 personal care packages that will be shipped to US troops deployed around the world. Everyone is invited to help assemble the care packages, according to Hirsch.
Mike Mazzolla, president and co-founder of the NJABL, has been looking forward to the doubleheader and the opportunity to showcase the talented WWAST team. He booked the game with Van Sleet 18 months ago.
“The moment I spoke to him and understood what they were doing, I knew it was something I wanted to do; the league is excited by the opportunity and looking forward to May 30,” Mazzolla said.
The NJABL, based in Middletown, has over 100 teams and 1,500 players throughout New Jersey.
“I’d been looking for ways to involve the league in charity work; I figured we could do some good for the community, rather than just getting together to play baseball,” he added.
The NJABL teams will be comprised of 10 active duty or veterans of the Army, Marines and Air Force, according to Mazzolla, as well as players who have a family history of military service. Five members of the Bound Brook fire department will also be on the field, as well as an amputee who plays regularly with the NJABL.
New Jersey Heroes presents $15,000 grant to Operation Shoebox New Jersey
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
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.
Operation Shoebox 2015 calendars now available!
The 2015 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 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
USCGC Maui (WPB-1304)
Patrol Forces Southwest Asia
Become a philanthropist without spending a dime!
Help Support Operation Shoebox New Jersey through the Affinity Membership Program sponsored by TD Bank.
If you are already a TD Bank customer, visit any TD Bank location and ask to have your balances included as part of the Operation Shoebox New Jersey Affinity Membership Program; or, open a new account at any office and TD Bank will make a contribution to Operation Shoebox New Jersey. TD Bank will make an annual contribution to Operation Shoebox New Jersey based on the average balance in all members’ accounts. Checkings, savings, money market, CD and retirement accounts are all included in the program.
If 100 people enroll, and their combined bank balance is $2 million, Operation Shoebox would receive a check from TD Bank for $8,000, based on the ¼ percent rate. (See below).
Contributions are calculated at 1/2 percent on checking balances and 1/4 percent on savings, money market, CD and IRA balances. Members’ accounts are not affected in any way by this contribution. Your account balances are used to determine the level of contribution and are kept confidential. It costs you nothing!
There are several ways to enroll in the program. You must use the following code number: A3342. Call Anthony Franchini, manager of the Hillsborough TD Bank, Route 206, (908) 359-7004 or send him an e-mail – Anthony.firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also visit or call your branch of TD Bank; just tell the manager you want to enroll in the program. Remember to use the code number.
The Affinity Membership Program is part of TD Bank’s philanthropy and community outreach initiative, as required by the Community Reinvestment Act enacted by Congress in 1977 to ensure banks give back to the communities they serve.
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
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.