Operation Shoebox NJ Sends Care Packages to Troops Overseas


The non-profit organization Operation Shoebox New Jersey sends care packages to soldiers who are stationed overseas. Founder Rod Hirsch told NJ Today Senior Correspondent Desiree Taylor that the idea for the program sprung from an Eagle Scout project he completed more than 35 years ago.

Operation Shoebox New Jersey began about eight years ago with the purpose of sending care packages to American troops in Afghanistan. Hirsch said the organization has also sent boxes to service men and women around the world, including Iraq, Panama, Guam, Japan, Europe and Africa.

Each care package contains four small boxes each with a clear bag of toiletries and food — about 36 items in all. “Basically what we’re trying to do is send small packets of things because they fit them into the pockets of their cargo pants,” Hirsch said. “So it’s very convenient for them.”


Girl Scout cookies are a staple in Operation Shoebox care packages, Hirsch explained, because the group has been donating the sweet treats through the Gift of Sharing program for the past five or six years.

All the items in the care packages are donated. Hirsch said his group collects items at supermarkets on weekends and gets help from many schools, veterans organizations and community-based groups. “Every day people stop by the office and we do stuff in conjunction with corporations as well where they will collect amongst their employees and they’ll donate things as well,” he said.

Hirsch said he did a similar project to Operation Shoebox when he was going for his Eagle Scout award. He gathered recycled newspapers to raise money to buy items to send to soldiers in Vietnam. He said at the time when he was in high school, he had many friends involved in the Vietnam War.

“Fast forward 35 years later or so and I was executive editor of a start-up newspaper and got this going as a marketing campaign to introduce the newspaper to the community. We tried to get the community involved in the project. We were very successful at doing that,” Hirsch said. “I subsequently left the newspaper and founded Operation Shoebox New Jersey as a 501(c)3 organization.”

Hirsch has been named a hero by First Lady Mary Pat Christie, which he said fills him with pride, but he also acknowledges others in his endeavor. “I’m very proud of that as an individual but it also is a reflection of the organization,” he said. “We could not do what we do without the help of thousands of people.”

Related Story: Troops Get Reminders of Home from Operation Shoebox

  • Hope Patton

    Hi I am a Marine Mom who would like for my son and his Platoon to receive shoeboxes while they are depployed to afghanistan they are deploying thisa month and will be deployeds for 7 mths. pleaee contact me at 321-914-8512 and i can give you more info and his deployed address. Thank you

  • Samantha S

    My name is Samantha VA. My church has always done the operations Christmas shoebox for the kids over seas that have never gotten a present in their life. Well, this year I got an idea, why not do that for our troops? So I have been searching for days at this point trying to find an organization that will provide me Troops or Units to send these care packages to. I was wondering if you could help me out on that or maybe you have an operation care package for our troops already. If so, could I send all my care packages to you? My church has about 1,000 members and we are all pretty giving so I’m hoping I will have at lest half of the members list make care packages. Either way, I would be more than happy with any help that you can provide me.

    Thank you in advance

  • Heidi Hartman

    From a Soldiers perspective what you do is amazing! You have no idea how a box full of basic things can change a bad day in Afghanistain to a smile that will cary you through. It’s amazing feeling to have all this support from complete strangers that are thinking of us day and night, that include in their thoughts at all. Its what gets us through sometimes! Thank you for all that you do.

    SFC Hartman, Heidi
    US Army

    • Nicole Carozza

      SFC Hartman, if this is the Sgt Hartman that worled as a recruiter for vineland nj please contact me Asap.. we have been searching all over for you! :) We have a success story for you! Before I publicly post an email.address, please let me know if it is you so i can give you a way that you can get a hold of us. Thanks!

  • katty placeres

    I work for family dollar in paterson nj and we are looking for a non profit organization that helps our troops is thiere any way we can get together and or u can send me more info so we can get involved as soon as possible please u can reach me at kplaceres5@yahoo.com or 8622626079