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  • Staff photo by GRANT MORRIS


    Sen. Kelley Ayotte packs a stocking for a soldier to be sent overseas during Friday evening's Mooremart stocking stuffing event at the New Hampshire Army National Guard Armory in Nashua. The organization was shooting to package and send approximately 4000 stockings to those serving. About 110 volunteers were on hand to make the large task a little easier.
  • Staff photo by GRANT MORRIS Sharon Zeigler shows her husband, Seth, a card she was about to pack into a box during MooreMart’s stocking stuffing night at the New Hampshire National Guard Armory in Nashua on Friday evening. The organization was shooting to package and send about 4,000 stockings to those serving. About 110 volunteers were on hand to make the large task a little easier.
  • Staff photo by GRANT MORRIS


    Facebook - Grant Morris of the Nashua Telegraph


    Seth Zeigler stacks a box on top of others after they've been taped and labled for shipping during Mooremart's stocking stuffing at the New Hampshire Army National Guard Armory in Nashua, Friday evening. The organization was shooting to package and send approximately 4000 stockings to those serving. About 110 volunteers were on hand to make the large task a little easier.
  • Staff photo by GRANT MORRIS


    Aiden Ricard carries a box of finished stockings between two armored artillery trucks inside of the New Hampshire Army National Guard Armory, Friday evening. Approximately 110 volunteered to package stockings full of goodies to be sent to soldiers around the world as part of Mooremart's initiative to get soldiers necessary items they may be lacking while they are deployed.
  • Staff photo by GRANT MORRIS Alex Lane, left, and Joseph Hohmann empty packages of Slim Jims into a box in preparation for stocking stuffing Friday night at the New Hampshire National Guard Armory in Nashua.
  • Staff photo by GRANT MORRIS


    Members of Girl Scout Troop 10868 package tea and hot chocolate into zip-loc bags, Friday evening at the New Hampshire Army National Guard Armory in Nashua. Mooremart was shooting to package and send approximately 4000 stockings to those serving. About 110 volunteers were on hand to make the large task a little easier.
  • Staff photo by GRANT MORRIS


    Finished stockings sit in boxes awaiting their final touches before being packaged into the flat-rate shipping boxes that are sent to military personnel the world over. Mooremart was shooting to package and send approximately 4000 stockings to those serving. About 110 volunteers were on hand to make the large task a little easier.
Saturday, November 12, 2011

Volunteers ready gift boxes for soldiers

NASHUA – The New Hampshire National Guard Armory was a hive of activity Friday night.

Stacks of crackers, candy, hot cocoa and popcorn were piled in one corner of the Daniel Webster Highway facility.

Gloves and hats, hand warmers and sunscreen were in another.

DVDs, toilet paper and boxes of tissue covered several long folding tables.

Piles and piles of handwritten notes and cards took up several others.

More than 100 volunteers buzzed around the large room, stuffing different items into bags, the bags into Christmas stockings and the stockings into cardboard boxes. Dozens of those boxes were being stored in neat rows sprinkled among giant military trucks that serve as mobile Patriot missile launchers.

All the activity was for MooreMart’s sixth annual Christmas stocking packing event. The organization hopes to send 4,000 of the Christmas care packages around the world this year, founder Paul Moore said.

“We want to make sure that everyone deployed from New Hampshire has a stocking,” he said.

Paul and Brian Moore, along with their sister, Carole, of Nashua, formed the nonprofit group in 2005 when Paul and Carole Moore packaged up some hard-to-find “necessities of life” for their brother, Sgt. 1st Class Brian Moore, who was on his second deployment to Afghanistan with the New Hampshire National Guard.

Brian Moore’s buddies asked if his siblings would be willing to send them some items to make their tour of duty more comfortable. Paul and Carole Moore responded, and in doing so, initiated an outreach effort called MooreMart.

Since then, the group has sent nearly 39,000 care packages to troops stationed overseas, as well as to soldiers at military hospitals and homeless veterans in Nashua and Manchester.

What MooreMart sends has shifted recently as more troops are sent to Afghanistan and more leave Iraq, said one of the original volunteers, Ted Luszey, of Nashua. There is much more demand for cold-weather clothing, hand warmers and hot cocoa as opposed to warm-weather gear useful in the deserts of Iraq, he said.

Paul Moore said several types of care packages are being sent out this year. There’s a standard one with a variety of snacks and useful items, plus a letter or card or two written by kids. There are also warm-weather and cold-weather packages, plus individualized packages based on specific requests soldiers can send via the group’s Web site, www.MooreMart.org.

“The nice thing is everything is at no cost to veterans,” Paul Moore said. “You let us know what you want, we’ll make it happen. We’re packing per person, per unit and per region.”

One of the most popular parts of the care packages is the letters and cards sent to MooreMart by New Hampshire kids, volunteer Debbie Bohannan said.

“This is what keeps them going,” she said. “It doesn’t seem like much, but each package has a message that they are supported and they are thought of.”

The Christmas packing event is a three-day affair. On Friday, U.S. Sen. Kelly Ayotte, R-N.H., stopped by to help stuff stockings.

“What they do for troops is so important,” Ayotte said. “I wanted to show my support, especially on Veterans Day. I know when they get these care packages, it makes a huge difference in terms of morale to know people here are thinking about them.”

Mark McCabe, another volunteer, served for 20 years in the Navy. There was no MooreMart back then, but care packages were still a highlight for many soldiers, he said.

“It always meant a lot to see the ship’s hangar bay packed with care packages,” McCabe said. “This is a good thing.”

This weekend’s packing is a special event, but MooreMart is active year-round. The group is sending more than 1,500 packages every eight weeks or so, Paul Moore said.

Luszey said it costs more than $20,000 to make each shipment and that, along with everything that’s sent, comes completely from donations.

“It’s been great the way the state has come together on this,” Paul Moore said. “What’s cool is that 100 percent of the donations go to the troops. There are no administrative costs.”

Sheila Kelley, a volunteer from Manchester, said helping pack a few thousand Christmas stockings doesn’t seem like too much to ask compared with the sacrifices of the country’s soldiers.

“It’s important,” she said. “They need simple things, and we can do that.”

Joseph G. Cote can be reached at 594-6415 or jcote@nashuatelegraph.com. Also, follow Cote on Twitter (@Telegraph_JoeC).