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Sunday, February 17, 2013

Hassan helps Moore Mart pack 750 s’mores packages for troops in Nashua

NASHUA – As officials continue to examine Gov. Maggie Hassan’s $11.1 billion state budget proposal, packed with aid for higher education, more mental health investment and health care funding, Hassan spent time Saturday doing some packing of a different kind – stuffing s’mores kits, dental supplies and other goodies into care packages for troops overseas.

At the Nashua National Guard Armory off Daniel Webster Highway, Hassan joined about 50 Moore Mart volunteers flowing through an assembly line to fill 750 U.S. Postal Service boxes with candy, power bars, socks and hand warmers, and topping it off with a handwritten thank-you note from area schools and churches. ...

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NASHUA – As officials continue to examine Gov. Maggie Hassan’s $11.1 billion state budget proposal, packed with aid for higher education, more mental health investment and health care funding, Hassan spent time Saturday doing some packing of a different kind – stuffing s’mores kits, dental supplies and other goodies into care packages for troops overseas.

At the Nashua National Guard Armory off Daniel Webster Highway, Hassan joined about 50 Moore Mart volunteers flowing through an assembly line to fill 750 U.S. Postal Service boxes with candy, power bars, socks and hand warmers, and topping it off with a handwritten thank-you note from area schools and churches.

Hassan, who presented her two-year spending plan Friday, added a Veterans’ Service Officer to the Veterans Council in her proposal and funded the New Hampshire Veterans Home “responsibly,” according to a press release from Moore Mart.

“More troops are coming home, and they need our help,” Hassan said. “We need to make sure we have adequate staff to give them that help.”

For more than 20 different units currently serving in the Middle East, relief will come soon in a box of sweets and treats that Moore Mart has been gathering through various community members and organizations since Christmas.

Every unit deployed from New Hampshire, regardless of its branch or service, will receive one, said co-founder Paul Moore.

Moore Mart began as a family effort four years ago to send supplies to Brian Moore – Moore’s brother – who was stationed in Iraq at the time. It has since expanded into a community-wide volunteer effort and sends items to children in Iraq and Afghanistan, too.

“For all of us who live in New Hampshire, having fellow citizens who are willing to mobilize all of us to honor and support our troops is really, really important,” Hassan said during a short presentation with Moore Mart co-founder Paul Moore.

A week earlier, Hassan participated in a deployment ceremony for the 237th Military Police unit, which is headed to Afghanistan.

“To see the families and our soldiers mobilizing, getting ready to leave at such a bittersweet ceremony – we’re all so proud of them, but we also know they’re going into harm’s way – for those families and those soldiers to know that their fellow Granite Staters support them is extraordinarily important,” Hassan said. “And for them to get packages that are actually filled with things that they’ve asked for and that they need, and that will allow them to build great relationships with the communities they’re over there trying to serve, is really, really important.”

State Sens. Peggy Gilmour, D-Hollis, and Bette Lasky, D-Nashua, joined Hassan on Saturday, praising her support for soldiers and veterans, helping the flurry of packers filling baggies with Snickers and Skittles, and moving packages along to be filled with playing cards, Chapstick, Ramen noodles and other goods.

Each care package is packed per person, per region, Moore said, and along with the standard stash of items can be filled according to a troop’s request. Condiments are a popular one.

“We had one solider send us a letter that said, ‘Can you send us anything that will help the food taste better?’ ” Moore said.

The majority of Moore Mart recipients live at forward operating bases in the middle of nowhere, with no electricity or running water, Moore said.

“Their care package is their connection to this country,” Moore said.

Saturday’s s’mores theme came together when Moore’s brother was looking for an activity to interact with Middle Eastern citizens without smoking cigarettes or drinking chai tea, which are social activities for many of them.

“Most Afghanis have never seen a marshmallow,” Moore said. “We sent over a couple kits and it took off.”

Moore Mart has sent more than 5,000 s’mores kits over the last six years, he said.

One benefit of the s’mores packages is that females in the community are allowed to participate in the campfires, too, Moore said.

“I thought it was kind of neat that something like that would bring everyone together,” Moore said.

Maryalice Gill can be reached at 594-6490 or mgill@nashuatelegraph.com. Also, follow Gill on Twitter (@Telegraph_MAG).