MANVILLE, NJ — Operation Shoebox New Jersey is putting out a call for volunteers to help form an assembly line and pack boxes for shipment to U.S. troops deployed around the world.

The nonprofit volunteer organization, which will celebrate its 15th anniversary next year, will host its annual Veterans Day packing at the Manville VFW, 600 Washington Ave., on Saturday, November 9, beginning at 11 a.m. The VFW has been hosting OPSHBX NJ packings twice a year since 2005.

Families, school organizations, corporate groups, retired veterans, friends and neighbors are all invited to volunteer at the event.

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A truck will unload supplies that have been gathered over the past several months at area supermarkets and stored at OPSHBX NJ headquarters in Hillsborough beginning at 8 a.m. Volunteers will set up the donations of food and toiletry items, and stage the assembly line and tape the boxes that will be filled with gallon bags containing the donations in preparation for the 11 a.m. packing.

An added treat will be bags of Halloween candy. The care packages will also include cards and letters of well wishes collected from schools, churches and other organizations.

The event will be dedicated to the memory of three individuals who played a significant role in the success of OPSHBX NJ, which has sent 165,000 personal care packages overseas since 2005:

Alison Marie Wildman was a resident of Somerset County who was killed in the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center in New York City on September 11, 2001. Her family established the Allison Marie Wildman Foundation in her memory, and has contributed substantial financial support to OPSHBX NJ the past several years.

Linn Smith, who served in the Navy on a minesweeper during the Cold War, was president of the Canal Walk Veterans Club in Franklin Township and an active volunteer with Operation Shoebox New Jersey. He died on Veterans Day in 2016 at age 79.

CWO 4 Patrick DeChirico (Ret.) served 43 years in the Marines and was one of the original Operation Shoebox New Jersey volunteers. He died in July 2019 at age 82.

Operation Shoebox New Jersey is a nonprofit 501C3 corporation based in Somerset County. The organization hosts 10to 12 packing events each year, and relies on the generosity of its supporters for contributions to help pay the expense of shipping its personal care packages overseas. Retail items will be available for purchase at the November 9 packing, including shirts, hats, pins and other merchandise.

The final packing of the year will be held at the Hillsborough YMCA on Pearl Harbor Day, December 7, co-sponsored by the Rotary Club of Hillsborough.

Further information is available by calling Operation Shoebox New Jersey at 908-255-4172.

Rod Hirsch, founder and executive director of Operation Shoebox New Jersey, is the owner and editor of TAPinto Somerville and TAPinto Hillsborough