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 contact@heartsinabox.org 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 Apr 3, 2018, 4:35 PM ]

[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: 47130. Use this to find and select us when setting up your Community Rewards information.

Register or update your account online at krogercommunityrewards.com
  • 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!

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

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 smile.amazon.com/ch/81-1372161

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 smile.amazon.com smile.amazon.com! When you make us your designated charity, on Prime Day or on any day you shop using the "smiles.amazon.com" 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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