Sent with care: MooreMart celebrates 50,000th package
NASHUA - As MooreMart founder Paul Moore prepared to seal his organization's 50,000th care package inside the National Guard Armory on Saturday morning, the Nashua resident said he's never been more proud of the many generous volunteers in his home state at a ceremony in front of a few hundred people.
There were legislators of past and present, Girl Scouts, Boy Scouts, parents of deployed military, members of Granite State veterans' groups, teenagers and grandparents at the event.
Some had been there since the beginning, while others were experiencing it for the first time. As the pile of sealed packages grew, ready for shipment to over 2,000 members of the armed services serving in the Middle East, it was clear that the 7-year-old nonprofit, supported entirely by volunteers, wouldn't be slowing down anytime soon.
In addition to the packages being sent to Iraq and Afghanistan in time for the holidays, MooreMart volunteers also shipped packages to retired veterans residing at the Tilton Retirement Home, veterans in transition staying at Liberty House in Manchester, Buckingham Place and Dalianis House in Nashua, and the Veterans Hospital in Manchester. Packages were also sent to hospitalized veterans at Bethesda Naval Hospital in Bethesda, Md., as well as to chaplains offices in the Middle East for distribution to orphanages throughout Iraq and Afghanistan, and to the Morale, Welfare and Recreation (MWR) offices in the Middle East for distribution to any serviceman or woman who arrives during Christmas week.
"As long as there are men and women in harm's way, we'll be keeping those care packages coming," said Moore.
Among those lending a helping hand was recent gubernatorial candidate Jackie Cilley, who stopped by with her husband, Bruce, to assist in the efforts. Cilley called the event "community building."
"When you get people to respond to a higher purpose, that's when they really come together," she said.
Founded in 2004, MooreMart has sent care packages to servicemen and women from 49 different states; 75,000 soldiers in all. The organization has also sent a cumulative 6.5 tons of relief supplies to families in war zones, all thanks to the help of 11,000 volunteers.
Most of those volunteers are from New Hampshire. Moore's brother, Brian Moore, can attest to the power of the packages. During one of the Army National guardsman's tours of Afghanistan, he was touched by an encounter with a very young soldier, who'd just received a MooreMart care package.
"He grew up a ward of the state; in his entire life he'd never received a piece of mail that wasn't a bill," Moore said. "We're sending soldiers things they can touch. Seeing those cards, those drawings from schoolchildren tells us that somehow, somewhere life is still alright."
Nashua Mayor Donnalee Lozeau lauded the Moore family for their devotion to the cause - and for making thousands of strangers feel like cherished friends.
"Here's a family who looked at their brother and knew what he was facing," Lozeau said. "It all started as a small idea based on an act of love."
Londonderry resident Drew Crete, a member of the MooreMart resource team, said collection efforts are a year-round endeavor. The tam began at Londonderry's American Legion Post 27 in 2005, collecting items and funds to help make sure no request for a care package goes unheard.
"Our job remains the same today: to secure donations and cash to make sure these shipments still happen," Crete said. "We're a family and I'm honored to be part of something bigger than all of us."
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