BRIDGEWATER, NJ - More than 400 volunteers persevered on a hot and humid summer day to help Operation Shoebox New Jersey assemble 1,200 personal care packages that will be shipped to United States military personnel deployed around the world.
The Somerset Patriots hosted Saturday’s event at TD Bank Ballpark. Manager Emeritus Sparky Lyle, a fixture at the ballpark packing each year, stood in line with the volunteers, many of them members of the Patriots’ Fan Club, to pack bags.
Volunteers loaded up the Operation Shoebox New Jersey truck at the organization’s headquarters and warehouse in Hillsborough late Friday afternoon and began unloading at TD Bank Ballpark at 8 a.m. Saturday.
Three hours later the packing began as a long line of volunteers picked items from bins lined up on the concourse of the ballpark, filling gallon plastic bags with food and toiletry items.
Those bags were sealed and placed in personal care packages along with boxes of Girl Scout cookies and tins of assorted nuts, along with other loose items, including boxes of cereal, batteries, first aid kids, socks and decks of playing cards.
Cards and letters of well wishes were also placed in each box.
Four personal care packages were placed in a larger shipping box, taped shut and wheeled to the truck, parked outside the ballpark.
The truck was unloaded back at headquarters, with the last box carried into the building in Hillsborough at 2:45 p.m.
Saturday’s effort increased the number of personal care packages shipped overseas by Operation Shoebox to 108,000 since it first began its humanitarian mission in 2005.
Operation Shoebox is a volunteer, 501C3 non-profit organization.
More packing events are planned through the end of the year, with several more already scheduled for 2017.
Volunteers are welcome. View the website at www.opshoeboxnj.org or call 908-698-0333 for further information.