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Sunday, August 17, 2014

Moore Mart celebrates 10 years of shipping compassion to troops overseas

NASHUA – To the soldiers who receive them, every single one of the 65,000 care packages the volunteer group Moore Mart has sent to U.S. troops deployed in Iraq and Afghanistan over the past 10 years is special.

But it can be said the 1,100 packages that went out in Saturday’s latest shipment are just a tad extra special, given that they came on the 10th anniversary of Moore Mart’s founding. ...

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NASHUA – To the soldiers who receive them, every single one of the 65,000 care packages the volunteer group Moore Mart has sent to U.S. troops deployed in Iraq and Afghanistan over the past 10 years is special.

But it can be said the 1,100 packages that went out in Saturday’s latest shipment are just a tad extra special, given that they came on the 10th anniversary of Moore Mart’s founding.

And nobody connected with the immensely successful and heartwarming mission, which blossomed out of Sgt. Brian Moore’s fairly routine 2004 request that his family send him and his squad some cleaning supplies, wanted to let Saturday’s anniversary pass without pausing to thank the hundreds of volunteers, including countless donors, throughout New Hampshire who have contributed goods and manpower to growing Moore Mart far beyond its early expectations.

“Some say it takes a village, but in the case of Moore Mart, it took a state,” co-founder Carole Moore Biggio, Brian Moore’s sister, said at the outset of Saturday’s hour-long event held at the N.H. National Guard Armory in Nashua.

Biggio read off the numbers: Ten years, 65,000 care packages, $1.4 million in donations, 24,000 Christmas cards and nearly 10,000 cases of Girl Scout cookies.

“When my husband was deployed in Iraq, what meant the most to him was receiving something from back home,” said U.S. Sen. Kelly Ayotte, R-NH, referring to her husband Joseph Daley, an Iraq War veteran.

While the food, kind letters and supplies were greatly welcomed, Ayotte added, a big part of receiving the packages was the thought behind them. “It wasn’t so much the Girl Scout cookies and things, but that people back home were thinking about them,” she said.

That Moore Mart also sends care packages with candy, toys and things like soccer balls for the soldiers to give children living in the midst of war “brings so much compassion home to these children suffering through these years of war,” Ayotte added.

She and N.H. Senate president Chuck Morse presented resolutions of commendation to Moore Mart. Ayotte’s counterpart, U.S. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, D-NH, called Moore Mart “a perfect example of how a small group of volunteers can make such a huge difference in the world.”

Mayor Donnalee Lozeau agreed, saying that while most every Nashuan, and Granite Stater, know the story behind Moore Mart, the project also stands as “a great indication of how one person’s idea can grow into something they never imagined.”

“I can’t believe it’s been 10 years,” Lozeau said, adding that Moore Mart, in addition to providing necessities and goods to soldiers and boosting their morale, has also served folks on the homefront who found Moore Mart the ideal way to fulfill their desire to aid U.S. troops in some fashion.

“It gives many people a purpose, a way of helping,” she said. “This is great … 10 years of helping bring a little piece of home to our soldiers so far away.”

It was Biggio and her brother Paul Moore, a lawyer and former circuit court judge, who packed those first boxes with cleaning supplies to help their brother, and threw in some soap, dental supplies and coffee for him and his buddies.

They followed up, sending more items, and requests began pouring in.

Soon, the two turned conference rooms at Paul Moore’s law office into packing stations.

One day, when grateful recipients likened the volume and frequency of the shipments to the retail giant Wal-Mart, Moore and Biggio coined the name “Moore Mart,” and, tongue in cheek, dubbed Moore’s office “Moore Mart World Headquarters.”

Among the current and retired military officers who spoke Saturday was Maj. Gen. William N. Reddel III, the adjutant general of New Hampshire and military chief of staff to the governor.

“You make the difference to people who serve,” Reddel told the Moore family and the scores of volunteers present. Moore Mart packages are especially important, he said, for those soldiers who otherwise wouldn’t receive any mail or care packages from home.

Reddel, who has packed more than a few care packages himself, said the best part is what goes in last.

“It’s such a great feeling to slip that note into that package,” he said to applause.

Dean Shalhoup can be reached at 594-6443 or dshalhoup@nashuatelegraph.com. Also, follow Shalhoup on Twitter (@Telegraph_DeanS).