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 Nov 16, 2017, 6:08 PM ]

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. 

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!

Join us for a Veteran's Day Fundraiser with LuLaRoe and Brewed Awakenings

posted Nov 10, 2017, 7:35 PM by Hearts in A Box   [ updated Nov 10, 2017, 7:38 PM ]

LuLaRoe Fundraiser FlyerJoin Lularoemichellemarievip this Saturday, November 11, from 3-5 pm at Saline's Brewed Awakenings Cafe for a fundraiser benefiting Hearts in a Box. Both of these awesome local businesses will be donating 20% of their sales during this time to help with our Hearts and Heroes care package shipment this holiday season. 

This is a critical time of the year for our organization and we are thrilled to be having this event on Veterans Day and on the very weekend when we're beginning to fill and prepare our 200 boxes for shipment just before Thanksgiving. It's the perfect partnership on the perfect day ... a great kickoff to our very busy week ahead. We're proud and thankful to work in a community that is so incredibly supportive of our efforts and we thank everyone involved in this weekend's events.

Several Hearts board members will be at the fundraiser to help everyone learn more about our organization and answer questions. We look forward to seeing you there!
Brewed Awakenings is located at 7025 E. Michigan Avenue, Saline, MI 48176.
Read about us and the Veterans Day Fundraiser in today's Saline Post article.

How Sweet it is! Box Month Continues with Holiday Crackers

posted Nov 5, 2017, 8:49 AM by Hearts in A Box   [ updated Nov 5, 2017, 9:50 AM ]

Sometimes we kind of scratch our heads at those "National Day of _____" or "_____ Awareness Day" calendars. It all seems a little random [National Clean Your Virtual Desktop Day], and even a little commercial, at times [National Sunglasses Day].  When a small army of Hearts volunteers got together on November 4 to fill and wrap holiday "crackers" with candy and trinkets for our military care packages, what we saw on those calendars made perfect sense for a change:  #NationalCandyDay and #StressAwarenessDay

Do we know candy? Do we know stress? Yesss! And this time of year, we live on both!300 pounds of candy!

Since November 1, our procurement team has been on a mission to collect scads of deeply discounted Halloween candy that is a core product for our boxes. In addition to purchasing about 250-300 lbs, we also received generous donations from Saline residents via the NextDoor Saline program, students at Ann Arbor's Eberwhite School, and several others. On Saturday, our volunteers gathered to put together our shiny, happy holiday crackers using a lot of that candy, plus some little items like, fortunes, riddles, drink and coffee sticks, personal care items, and tie-dye balloons. Wrapped in festive paper, these pretty little items fill a lot of care packages and give everyone a change to open a "little something" when the box arrives.

Volunteers assembling holiday favorsFestive holiday crackers filled with candy
Yesterdays' effort yielded 700 crackers! One more day of work today will get us up to the 1150 we're supplied to build. We thank all of our dedicated candy agents and cracker engineers for their help in getting us past another landmark in our Box Month preparations. It's been a sweet weekend and your good work has reduced Team Hearts' stress a lot! Of that, we're very aware! 

The Race is On! First Leg: Girly Bags

posted Sep 20, 2017, 9:39 AM by Hearts in A Box   [ updated Oct 30, 2017, 8:02 PM ]

The mad rush toward Thanksgiving Week box shipments is in progress as part of our team worked over the past few days to organize and assemble our favorite item: the Girly Bags. These are the cosmetics bags and travel pouches we fill with the travel- and sample-sized products we receive over the year from many of our supporters. Our female soldiers are just as tough as the guys they work beside, but we always hear from many of them: "We just want to smell nice again!"  In addition to providing them a little luxury, these tiny travel size items are perfect for packing when missions go mobile.

Do you or someone you know travel a lot for business or pleasure? We collect these items year-round and we'd be happy to help set you up as a collector!

Just one table of the travel sized products we use to make our gift bagssome of the personal care items we use in our bags

A couple hundred finished girly bags

The 2017 Fish Party Nets over $2500 to Support Hearts and Heroes

posted Aug 30, 2017, 8:41 PM by Hearts in A Box   [ updated Aug 31, 2017, 6:55 PM ]

It was a beautiful summer day in Michigan last Saturday when Hearts in a Box held it's Annual Fish Party Fundraiser and Raffle. A crowd estimated to top 100 enjoyed an evening of fine (or should we say "fin"?) food, 50s jukebox music, and a Soda Shoppe-themed atmosphere while socializing and raising funds for the HIAB Hearts and Heroes campaign. We're thrilled to report
that our generous party-goers and sponsors helped us raise over $2500!

Guests vied for 18 incredible prizes provided by area businesses. After everyone dropped tickets in the jar of their favorite prizes, winning tickets were drawn by a special guest, Sgt. Ed LaFay, and his daughter. Sgt. LaFay is the friend of HIAB Director Stephen Taritas who first inspired our care package program years before we became a non-profit. We were thrilled to have him with us and thank him for his continued service to our country! We're also pretty happy with that idea he helped us with so long ago. How far we've come!
Sgt. LaFay and daughter draw raffle tickets

And now for some heartfelt gratitude from the Board of Directors to everyone who made this event possible. We are truly blessed with supporters who love our mission as much as we do!

--To all who helped plan, clean, cook, organize, supervise, entertain, or just keep everything moving in the right direction before, during, and after the event. You are too many to name, but you know who you are and we appreciate you all more than you can imagine!

--To our 2017 Corporate Sponsors: Handeholder Products Inc, Conlin Travel, Stante Excavating, and TPS, Inc. for their generous financial support of our programs.

--To those organizations and individuals who provided us such a fine array of raffle prizes for this year's drawings: Hilton Garden Inn - Ann Arbor, The Graduate Hotel - Ann Arbor, TownePlace Suites by Marriott - Ann Arbor, Emagine - Saline, Real Seafood Company - Ann Arbor, Stella & Dot, The Purple Rose Theatre, Vera Bradley - Briarwood, Lake Forest Golf Club, Mac's Acadian Seafood Shack, Aubree's Pizzeria and Grill, Sandman Creations LLC, and Robin Owen Photography. Thanks to Robin, too, for photographing this event for us. (We can't wait to see what you captured!)

And finally, a HUGE thank you to everyone who joined us for the party. From the delicious food you added to the potluck to the products you donated for filling care packages to the financial support you provided through your support of our event and raffle, you are the #1 reason we succeed in meeting our goals each year. Bless you one and all!

Here are a few more moments from the event. 
Guests dressed in 50s attire enjoy the Soda Shoppe props
putting the Fish in the fish party

Selling tickets and collecting product donations for care packages


Nothing Fishy about our Weekend Plans

posted Aug 22, 2017, 8:04 AM by Hearts in A Box   [ updated Aug 22, 2017, 8:07 AM ]

It's D-minus 5 until our big 2017 Fish Party Fundraiser and this year is shaping up to be our biggest and best yet! The weather is supposed to be perfect, we have lots of food, beverages, and entertainment lined up, and our Raffle prizes are looking awesome! We love seeing how our friends and families show their love for our mission on this special day in our HIAB history.

We also thank our corporate sponsors who provide financial support
  • Stante Excaviting
  • Conlin Travel
  • Handeholder Products, Inc.
  • TPS, Inc.
and raffle donors for helping us make this Fish Party better than ever:
  • Hilton Garden Inn- 1 Complimentary night in a standard room 
  • Townplace Suites by Marriott- 1 Complimentary night in a studio suite
  • Graduate Hotel Ann Arbor- 1 Complimentary night w/parking
  • Aubree’s Pizzeria and Grill - 2 x $25.00 gift cards
  • Mac's Acadian Seafood Shack - $50 gift card
  • Real Seafood Company - Gift Card
  • Lake Forest Golf Club- 2 x 18 Hole Green Fees Certificates 
  • Emagine Cinema - 2 Golden Ticket Admission passes
  • Vera Bradley - Iconic Vera Tote with a medium cosmetic bag
  • Stella and Dot - 3 individual prize packages including jewely, accessory bags, and a large weekender tote
  • Detroit Tigers Baseball A pair of outfield box seats to the 9/23 game with the Twins, plus a Tiger Den Pass
  • Sandman Creations - Two pairs of engraved Yeti insulated mugs
  • Cooler package: a rolling soft-side cooler filled with a variety of storage containers
  • Munchin' in Michigan gift basket: including Michigan-made wines and food products

2017 Fish Party to Offer a Big Catch of Fun and Prizes

posted Aug 4, 2017, 8:20 AM by Hearts in A Box   [ updated Aug 4, 2017, 1:21 PM ]

The 2017 Fish Party, our annual private fundraiser, is less than a month away and we're excited to be offering a great new slew of prizes for our guests to win. Attendees will have the opportunity to participate in a raffle for prizes from some of our awesome donors! Here's just a taste of what we have lined up: 
  • Hilton Garden Inn- 1 Complimentary night in a standard room 
  • Townplace Suites by Marriott- 1 Complimentary night in a studio suite
  • Graduate Hotel Ann Arbor- 1 Complimentary night w/parking
  • Aubree’s Pizzeria and Grill - 2 x $25.00 gift cards
  • Lake Forest Golf Club- 2 x 18 Hole Green Fees Certificates 
  • Emagine Cinema - 2 Admission passes
  • Vera Bradley accessories- (2) Items
  • Stella and Dot jewelry and accessories- 2-3 items 
  • Detroit Tigers Baseball Tickets plus a Tiger Den Pass
Our team is busy adding even more great options to the list. We'll "catch" you later with more details about the prize list and after the event to share what we know will be great results!

Smile for Hearts in a Box on for Amazon Prime Day!

posted Jul 5, 2017, 5:02 PM by Jill Schultz   [ updated Jul 6, 2017, 6:36 AM by Hearts in A Box ]

Amazon Smile reminder for Amazon Prime Day
When you #StartWithaSmile on #PrimeDay, Amazon donates to Hearts in a Box.
Shop for great deals at

Amazon's third-annual Prime Day is on Tuesday, July 11 and will feature more than 100,000 deals exclusively for Prime members, making it one of the biggest shopping days of the year. Hearts in a Box wants to remind all Amazon shoppers to sign up and shop at! When you make us your designated charity, on Prime Day or on any day you shop using the "" URL, Amazon will donate to Hearts in a Box.

It's easy to sign up and after that, you just need to remember to shop Amazon Smiles instead of regular Amazon. (If you try to shop standard Amazon afterward, it will even pop up a reminder that you should use the Smile site!) You'll have access to all the same products and features. There's no extra cost to you ... just easy, stress-free shopping and a simple way to support our Hearts and Heroes care package campaign. That's a win all the way around!

Happy Birthday to the US Army! Hail to the Stars and Stripes!

posted Jun 14, 2017, 8:08 AM by Hearts in A Box   [ updated Jun 14, 2017, 8:08 AM ]

June 14, 2017 seems like just any other day. We go to work or school or on about our business without a great deal of deep thought on what this day is really about or why we celebrate it at all. We might hear that it's Flag Day, but the banks are open and the mail is being delivered. It can't be too much of a big deal, then, can it? 

It's also the 242nd birthday of our U.S. Army. Most of us don't know this at all, so few cakes will be sacrificed in its honor today, outside of those served on our bases around the world. It's a big deal to them, certainly, but what can it mean for the rest of us? 

The facts on these two observances:

Flag Day remembers day the Second Continental Congress passed a resolution adopting of the flag of the United States on June 14, 1777. In 1916, President Woodrow Wilson officially established June 14 as Flag Day in a proclamation; National Flag Day was established by an Act of Congress in 1949, though to this day, Flag Day is not recognized as an official federal holiday. June 11–17, 2017 is designated as National Flag Week, during which time U.S. citizens are encouraged to fly the American flag for the duration of the week.

The United States Army celebrates this date because it is the day on which Congress adopted the Continental Army in 1775. 

There are many reasons to celebrate our flag and our Army (and all our armed services), but one thing stands out overall. Flag Day reminds us of the symbol of our country. Thirteen stripes for the people of thirteen colonies who had the bravery to seek their freedom from tyranny back in 1775, many of whom served in that very first Army to the peril of their reputations and their lives. Fifty stars to represent the growth of the U.S.A from those thirteen colonies into the fifty unique, valuable, and beautiful states that make up our union. No matter our differences and in spite of the squabbles and fights found in any family as large and diverse as ours, in the end, we are still that flag. Stitched together in a pattern that unites us, whether facing a stiff wind or relaxed in peaceful calm, whether new and crisp or tattered through life's battles...we are that flag. And our Army continues, 242 years later, to defend and protect everything it stands for.

Stop and think about that today, if not every day. Be kind to each other. Support each other. Be our flag and fly for those who've defended it every day since June 14, 1775. It's certainly something our mission guides us to do and we're proud and happy to do it!

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