HILLSBOROUGH, N.J. - A caring message and a few simple pleasures from home can make a big difference to our servicemen and women serving abroad. That is the underlying mission of Operation Shoebox New Jersey, a Hillsborough-based, non-profit organization dedicated to providing our troops serving abroad with their favorite snacks and toiletries.

The Rotary Club of Hillsborough is proud to support their mission for the eighth year with the Club’s annual holiday packing event, scheduled for Saturday, Dec. 7th, from 10:30 a.m.-2 p.m. at the Hillsborough YMCA, 19 East Mountain Road.

Members of the community are invited to participate in this special event to assemble the gift packages.

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“Being away from home during the holidays can be difficult for anyone,” said Tricia Marciano, president of the Rotary Club of Hillsborough. “Spending the holidays deployed in a foreign and often hostile environment away from family and friends is a sacrifice none of us would welcome. That is why we must do our part to ensure they know we care.”

The annual packing event draws hundreds of community volunteers, young and old, who help assemble the food items and toiletries that fill the many boxes that are then shipped overseas to our troops. Volunteers from the Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts, veteran and service organizations, and entire families come out each year to show their support.

To help make the event festive and fun, there is a DJ, free hot dogs and drinks, cake sales, and a raffle. To participate in the packing event, volunteers need only arrive at the Hillsborough YMCA between the hours of 10:30 a.m.-2 p.m.and Rotary volunteers will provide packing instructions.

The cost of shipping these care packages to the servicemen and women is funded by donations from the Rotary Club of Hillsborough and caring members of the public. Cash donations to off-set shipping costs can be made at the event or sent in advance by check to Operation Shoebox, 152 Route 206, Hillsborough 08844.

Donations of appropriate, non-perishable food items, snacks, and toiletries can be dropped of at the same location.

Operation Shoebox New Jersey, based in Hillsborough, was founded in February 2005. It is an all-volunteer grassroots organization dedicated to collecting donated supplies and shipping care packages to U.S. troops based in more than 150 countries overseas.

Operation Shoebox New Jersey seeks donations of food and personal care 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, small bags of pretzels and chips, small tubes of toothpaste, toothbrushes, small packets of moist wipes, soap, deodorant, small canisters of powder and small bottles of shampoo.

Rotary brings together a global network of volunteer leaders dedicated to tackling the world's most pressing humanitarian challenges. Rotary connects 1.2 million members of more than 34,000 Rotary clubs in over 200 countries and geographical areas. Their work improves lives at both the local and international levels, from helping families in need in their own communities to working toward a polio-free world.

The Rotary Club of Hillsborough has over 35 active members from Hillsborough and surrounding communities. Members include business and professional leaders who provide humanitarian service, encourage high ethical standards in all vocations, and help build goodwill and peace in the world.  The Hillsborough Rotary serves the Hillsborough community. The Hillsborough Rotary Club meets every Wednesday, at 6:15 pm, at The Landing Restaurant in Hillsborough.

For more information about the event and making cash or in-kind donations, please visit the website at hillsboroughnjrotary.com.