Box Month is in Full Gear

posted Nov 15, 2018, 9:32 PM by Hearts in A Box   [ updated Nov 18, 2018, 8:08 AM by Jill Schultz ]

Yes, we know you haven't heard from us in a while. Sorry about that, but it's been for a very good reason. Since the Fish Party in August, we've been busy little bees getting ready for the big shipment near Thanksgiving. This year is shaping up well! Here's just a few of the things we've been up to!

Girly Bags

During September and early October, we collected hundreds (thousands?) of small toiletries and trinkets to build over 300 "Girly Bags" full of things our female military personnel can't always find on ship or operating in a forward area. This is one of our favorite feel-good activities each year.
Sheryl and Pam pick toiletries for Girly Bags

Sheryl and Pam organize toiletry sets .

Holiday Crackers

Once Girly Bags are completed and our tables are free for the next project, we begin collecting Halloween Candy to build Holiday Crackers. These pretty little treats not only have lots of candy in them, we also include useful little items, including personal care, drink mixes or hot sauce, and fun things like jokes, riddles, or balloons. This year we made 1200 crackers, including hundreds of non-chocolate varieties for those deployed to hot environments.  Thank you to all the individuals, schools, and clubs who donated leftover Halloween candy and to Brewed Awakenings and Jafferson Computers for being our drop-off locations. We have A LOT of awesome candy!

 Volunteers fill and wrap Christmas Crackers  Volunteers fill and wrap Christmas Crackers
 L: Candy collected at Ann Arbor Skyline HS and Eberwhite Elementary.     C: Volunteers fill and wrap holiday crackers.               R: The lovely results!

Building the PX   

Finally, once the crackers were finished and our tables were empty yet again, we started inventorying all we'd collected in donations throughout the year and determined what initial items we'd need to buy based on historical purchases. Military needs are usually pretty predictable! Candy, healthy snacks, caffeine, toiletries, entertainment. 

The beginnings of our PX.

Next steps? Gather military names, review their wish lists, purchase special items, and start packing. This is where we are right now in the process. We'll update you with our shipment stats soon. This year's shipment will occur on 11/24.


Sponsor-a-Box Program Takes Off

posted Aug 26, 2018, 7:24 PM by Hearts in A Box   [ updated Aug 26, 2018, 7:25 PM ]

We're pleased to announce our newest program - Sponsor-a-Box!

Last year, we shipped ONE TON of food, personal care items, and entertainment to Americans deployed globally in all branches of the military. That equated to 208 boxes and about $3500 in shipping costs alone– and in 2018, we want to beat that total!  This year, the cost to ship just one care package is approaching $20 … and this is where we need your help.

To offset our greatest expense – shipping – so that we can focus on what goes into the care packages, we are having an ongoing Sponsor-a-Box fundraiser.  For a donation of just $20 per box, we will fill and send a care package to an American military unit in time for the December holiday season. Basically, you pay shipping, we pay to fill it with goodies, and we do the heavy lifting! It’s a simple way to show your support of our military, while letting us take care of the details. 

If you choose, we'll include a personalized note from you in all boxes you sponsor and we'll keep you posted on the packages journey, including where it's going (if provided by the unit) and will let you know about any feedback we get from your unit. For those of you doing this for your organization, we can provide photos and results of our 2018 efforts for your own website and communications. Corporate sponsors will be also belisted and linked on our website’s Sponsors page.

If you'd like to participate, you can download the attached Word form, fill in your information, and return it to us with your donation via the instructions on the form. 

Thank you!

3rd Annual HIAB Fish Party Nets Major Support!

posted Aug 26, 2018, 5:23 PM by Hearts in A Box   [ updated Aug 26, 2018, 7:49 PM ]

Smiling grizzly bears image
Our third Fish Party since becoming Hearts in a Box is in the books and we want to thank everyone who helped make this our most successful event yet! Shout out to those who helped plan and set up the event, to those who brought delicious dishes and beverages to share, and especially to those who attended and helped gather 100s of awesome box-filling products and - are you ready - raise OVER $2800 to help fill and ship our care packages this fall. 

The party was held on Saturday, August 25, under cloudy, threatening skies, but Mother Nature cooperated in the end and just a spritz of rain came.  Over 70 family members and friends, old and new, enjoyed the summer evening and a non-traditional Fish Party meal of brisket and pulled pork BBQ.  We introduced a new program at the party - Sponsor-a-Box ... and we were so happy with the reception it received! For $20, individuals or families can sponsor a box, and if they choose, our team will contact them to include the sponsor's personal message for the recipients and will also share any feedback we receive from their sponsored unit. 

This year marks a transition for this long time tradition. While the Fish Party will always be an important part of our history, next year as our Alaska fishing crew considers selling their fish camp, we will be saying goodbye to fish and hello to a new theme. If this year is any indication, no one will starve.

For supporters who sponsored a box, we will be in contact with you in September or October regarding your box so that you have time to prepare a card or letter to include as the first thing they see when they open the box. We will be running the Sponsor-a-Box program indefinitely, so if you'd like to get involved, click HERE.

Our New Kroger Community Rewards Number

posted Aug 18, 2018, 10:42 AM by Hearts in A Box   [ updated Aug 18, 2018, 10:42 AM ]

Hey Kroger Shoppers!

We were notified recently by Kroger that our NPO number for Community Rewards has changed to FK138.  For those of you who are already signed up under our old number, there's nothing you need to do. Kroger is permanently cross-referencing the old and new numbers for your convenience.

Find us on kroger rewards under account FK138
If you haven't signed up for this program yet and you shop Kroger regularly using your Plus Card, you can sign up easily at Look for us by name or by NPO number FK138. 

Afterward, when you shop at Kroger using your Plus Card, Kroger donates a percentage of the value of your purchases to Hearts in a Box. What an easy, care-free way to help us provide our military men and women hundreds of care packages full of goodies during the holiday season. 
The contributions we received from Kroger last year helped us ship extra boxes over our original goal.


Golf League Fundraiser is a Winning Round

posted Aug 15, 2018, 11:45 AM by Hearts in A Box   [ updated Aug 15, 2018, 11:46 AM ]

On August 1, the Wednesday Night Tee Party Golf League held their annual charity golf outing and this year, Hearts in a Box was their chosen beneficiary. The ladies league plays weekly during the summer at Rolling Meadows Golf Course in Whitmore Lake and every year, they select a non-profit based on nominations submitted by their members. Their committee then reviews information provided by each non-profit and the general membership votes to pick ultimate designee. We were honored and excited to learn that they chose our organization!

Several HIAB board members and volunteers attended and enjoyed seeing the excitement and passion everyone has for supporting our military men and women. These generous and welcoming women raised over $2000 for our program ... an incredible effort that will make a huge difference in helping us meet our goals for shipping this year!

On behalf of our board and the Americans we support, thank you to everyone involved with the league who made this successful evening possible! 

Hearts in a Box display table
 Golf carts ready to go

You Drop It, We Ship It. Our Donation Drop-Off Locations are Ready for You!

posted Apr 3, 2018, 3:42 PM by Hearts in A Box   [ updated Apr 3, 2018, 8:32 PM ]

Do you or someone you know travel a lot? If you're like most of us, you probably collect all the little hotel freebies -- the shampoos, conditioners, lotions, manicure kits, and so on. If you're also like most of us, they usually get tossed into a box at home and rarely used. Meanwhile, our men and women deployed to remote locations often do without these types of items. We hear from many that their bases don't have a PX or they're out in forward areas on patrols and return to stores that are already sold out. Surprising Fact: The US Military doesn't operate like a hotel! You may not even have realized that simple things like shampoo, soap, feminine protection, and other personal care items are not routinely available for some of our troops. 

image of toiletries with quote "when the PX is sold out, little things matter."
You can help us fix that!

We're pleased to announce two new Product Donation Drop-Off sites in the Saline and Ann Arbor/Ypsilanti area! You'll find a drop-box at these locations and you can swing by them anytime to donate toiletries and other items we need for our care packages. 

7025 E. Michigan Ave (at Moon Rd)
Saline, MI  48176 
Jafferson Computers
4005 Carpenter Rd (at Ellsworth Rd)
Ypsilanti, MI 48197

Download the attached flyer to learn more about this program and see a full list of the items you can drop off for our troops!  

Please share with family, friends, and co-workers who might be interested in helping ... it's a great project idea to share with scout troops, church organizations, or even your employer if they're open to it. If you have a batch to donate but can't get to these locations, please email us at and we'll try to arrange other options for you!

Thank you for your help in supporting this new effort ... and thank you to our friends at Brewed Awakenings and Jafferson Computers for being our eager partners! 

It's Time to Check Your Kroger Rewards Charity and Make Sure It's Hearts in a Box!

posted Mar 15, 2018, 9:05 PM by Hearts in A Box   [ updated Aug 18, 2018, 9:55 AM ]

[UPDATE: Kroger recently notified our program manager that they are no longer making annual charity confirmation necessary. You can now keep Hearts in a Box as your Kroger Rewards Charity indefinitely. You can use the instructions below to edit your selection or sign up if you're new to the program!]

We started our Kroger Community Rewards program almost a year ago and we've received some welcomed financial support thank to your shopping and claiming us as your charity. Just in case you forgot, Kroger requires that you re-establish your charity every year. It's easy to check on your status! The next time you shop Kroger, save your receipt and look at the bottom. If it says you're supporting Hearts in a Box, your're still okay. If it doesn't, then you should reset your selection on your Kroger account summary.  

Kroger Receipt showing Hearts in a Box as the Charity
If you haven't signed up yet and you have a Kroger Plus Card, you can easily link it to Hearts in a Box so every time you shop at Kroger, eligible purchases will trigger a donation to us that will help fill and send care packages to our troops. Kroger guarantees a quarterly donation of $25, but let's not stop them at that amount! Sign up today and help us while you shop without even having to think about it - just be sure to use your card or your alternate ID (account phone number) when you check out.  

Our Kroger NPO number is: FK138. Use this to find and select us when setting up your Community Rewards information.

Register or update your account online at
  • Current online Plus Card customers can click Sign In and add/update their Kroger Community Rewards selection under Account SettingsAccount Summary, and by making sure that their account is tied to a Plus Card and Phone Number.
  • New online Plus Card customers can click Register and complete the process for setting up a Plus Card online account, entering the Community Rewards information at the end.
If you don't have a Plus Card, you can get one at the Customer Service Desk at any Kroger. Your Community Rewards selection must be re-confirmed annually and we will notify you regularly about the need to do this.

Thank you for your continuing support of our mission and our programs!

The Best Gift of All

posted Mar 15, 2018, 8:53 PM by Hearts in A Box   [ updated Mar 15, 2018, 8:57 PM ]

The volunteers of Hearts in a Box really enjoy the ups and downs and hard work involved in getting ready to ship care packages to our troops each year. We know there's no expectation of a response because we have total faith in our shipments making it to their destinations.

The best gifts we get are those unexpected responses from the men and women who received our care packages. It's fun to read more about them ... whether it's a quick line to say "thanks!" ... or a longer missive that tells a story, we appreciate the time and effort they take from their busy and important work to let us know they enjoyed what we sent.

We received a lot of feedback this year. Here are some highlights, with many other letters still in reserve to show later, too.

"Thank you very much for taking the time and effort to send our Soldiers your lovely Christmas boxes while we are deployed to Kuwait and Iraq. We have received some boxes and are making sure they go to all our Soldiers. Our Soldiers deployed to Iraq are in some pretty remote locations and they will truly appreciate your kindness, again thank you very much for your support." CSM, 1st TSC OCP

"Good Day, I wanted to thank you for the care packages. We have been receiving so much support from so many great Americans. We have been really busy and getting into the Christmas Spirit. We have decorated throughout our work spaces and we're planning on having Christmas party. A photo of most of us. The Marines are doing great and we hope to hear from on you soon." Marines in Kuwait

Marines in Kuwait who received our packages.
" The other day our Division of Sailors onboard the USS Theodore Roosevelt (based out of North IA) received your care package's. Our Sailors of men and 
women were very excited opening the package's especially the ones that do not get a lot of m
ail. They loved all the goodies inside. We shared everything and are very grateful. We are ITs sland, C(Information Systems Technicians), we basically control the Computer Network and help the sailors set up their email and what not.  A big Thank you from the Sailors in Combat Division onboard the Air Craft Carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt!  We mailed you a letter but not sure when it would get there so we d
ecided to send you an email as well. 
Personally I am from Los Angeles, CA I am married and have 4 kids. 2 boys ages 11 and 8, and boy/girl twins age 4. When I am not at work or deployed I love spending time with my children and try to do as much as I can with them to make up for lost time from being away. I am actually 4.5 years away from retirement and looking forward to being home a lot more. Once again thank you for all your support!" Sailors of the USS Theodore Roosevelt

Army recipients in Kuwait

"Thank you so much for your holiday box to the Head and Neck Trauma team at the Combat Support Hospital in Baghdad!! We appreciate your generosity and thoughts!" 

And They're Off! Taped, Loaded, and Shipped - SUCCESS!

posted Nov 21, 2017, 11:02 PM by Hearts in A Box   [ updated Nov 27, 2017, 5:44 PM ]

The past two days, as in years past, have been bittersweet. On Monday we packed our tidily taped boxes into a U-Haul truck, then Tuesday, we delivered them to the Ypsilanti Post Office where their journeys continue this very moment to places all around the world where our military protects and supports the USA and its allies. 
The Loading Crew with the filled U Haul two of three carts full of boxes at the post office.
First the purely sweet: We met a big stretch goal by shipping over ONE TON ... 2100 pounds and our tale of the tape was a record, too! The shipping receipt was 25 feet long ... the printing of which is always good drama at the end of a long day at the USPS. Overall, we shipped 205 boxes (up 25 from 2016): 201 boxes today and four departed a little early last week. Our processes were improved, our stress levels lower as a result, and all-in-all, our initial results show great success!

Team selfie at the Ypsilanti Post office

But why bittersweet? You have to understand how deeply involved 
we get in the stories of the men and women we "adopt". For most, we have their unit "bio" ... perhaps an idea of where they are, how they live, what conveniences they have, and what their wants and needs are. We start to know them by name... Darius, Santiago, Stephanie... or by our names for them. Iceman. The ladies from Kyrzwhatsitstan. The K9 corps. We know if they live on MREs, are too hot for chocolate, and have no access to a PX. We get so involved in their stories and pack their boxes with such care that when it's all over, we feel a little bereft. It's something we work on all year, but from late October until Thanksgiving, this is our life. Our sleep suffers and our partners fend for dinner on their own. We are in the zone. Or perhaps "in the box"?

And then suddenly, we're done. We look around wondering what to do next, then we remember. This is the reason we exist. To send those packages to the four corners of the world. Then spend some time with our families. Get some long-overdue rest. Then get back to work again, starting the march toward November 2018. We'll be working on tying up loose ends through the rest of the year and hope to hear back from some of our troops. We look forward to sharing more with you about our incredible year: memories, gratitude, results as we wrap up 2017 with happy hearts.

Boxing Week Continues after a Successful Veterans Day Weekend

posted Nov 16, 2017, 6:08 PM by Hearts in A Box   [ updated Feb 10, 2018, 11:36 AM ]

Our busy Veterans Day weekend, which kicked off with our LuLaRoe-Brewed Awakenings Cafe Fundraiser and wrapped up with 150 of our 200 boxes filled, was a very satisfying whirlwind. It was the kind of weekend where blessings were counted not only in numbers (funds raised, supplies consumed, boxes packed,) but in the multitude of ways we grew our Hearts in a Box community. 

The team at the LuLaRoe Brewed Awakenings Fundraiser
Things happened quickly for us after LuLaRoe and Brewed Awakenings came to us to suggest a fundraiser on Veterans Day. A simple community calendar entry spawned an unexpected Saline Post article. We joined with our longtime supporter, Kim Kaster of Brewed Awakenings, and met LuLaRoe Michelle Marie's Michelle and Brittany McQueer, who immediately became passionate supporters as well. They kept their sale open on our behalf for the entire weekend, promoting sales diligently until they reached the LuLaRoe corporate matching level. And who knew that soldiers like brightly patterned tights to keep them warm and comfy under their uniforms? That nugget of information led to the duo collecting over 50 donated tights from other LuLaRoe businesses to include in some of our care packages. Something they can enjoy for the comfort and have fun with because of the bright, fun colors and patterns that are decidedly not "military". In short, this fundraiser was, to borrow from the movie Casablanca, "the beginning of a beautiful friendship"!
Two volunteers pack care packages with food and toiletries

The next day, a group of volunteers, many new to the box-packing process, joined us for our most efficient and fast-moving packing day ever! They filled approximately 150 care packages, prepped inventory lists for customs forms, and exceeded every expectation we had for the day. We are thrilled to add new volunteers to our efforts as we continue to expand our reach locally and help others feel the joy we do when we see that pile of packages grow, ready for shipping in time for the holidays.

What's next? Filling out customs forms, packing the remaining boxes, and topping everything off with our packing peanuts (Halloween candy, not styrofoam!) and the cards and letters prepared by several classrooms and scouting organizations. We're on course for our biggest and best year yet ... and thank everyone who's helped us
in any way to reach this point!

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