If there is anything we haven't answered, please feel free to contact us!
When was J.O.S.H. founded?
Kathy Hewitt began shipping care packages in December 2010. The organization incorporate In April 2011, and filed for 501(c)(3) status. We received retroactive approval in December 2011.
What is 501(c)(3)?
The 501(c)(3) status is an IRS filing status for certain nonprofit organizations. We are tax exempt and all donations made to J.O.S.H. are 100% tax deductible.
Where are we located?
We are located in Lake Mary, Florida, just outside of Orlando.
Why was J.O.S.H. started?
Kathy Hewitt’s nephew, whose name is Josh, was deployed to Afghanistan in December 2010. She wanted to send him a care package a month, but had no clue what to send since his response was always that he was fine and didn’t need anything. She researched his small outpost, COP Wilderness, and learned he didn’t have a PX where he could buy food or hygiene products. She started shipping boxes to him for distribution to his troop members. Eventually Kathy began finding/supporting more soldiers at other locations.
Where do we ship?
We started out shipping to the most remote outposts and forward operating bases in Afghanistan and Iraq.
We ship to other remote locations where deployed troops need our support. Our goal is still to reach the troops who are short on hygiene supplies and snacks/food.
We also ship to others who are deployed and simply need a morale boost. Service members who do not need the hygiene supplies are sent snacks and foods to give them a little taste of home.
Our tagline is “Bringing Smiles to Our Deployed Heroes One Care Package at a Time” and that pretty much sums up our whole purpose.
What goes in the boxes?
We ship many baby wipes, hygiene items such as body wash, bar soap, toothpaste, deodorant, shaving gel and razors. We also send individually packaged snacks such as granola bars, beef sticks, sandwich crackers, beef jerky, tuna packs, peanuts, sunflower seeds, coffee, canned soups and canned fruit. Please visit the Care Package Info page to see a list of items we ship most frequently.
We also ship special requests. We shipped nothing by baby wipes to service members who were taking showers with a 20 ounce bottle of water.
We had a 1LT who asked specifically for deodorant and bar soap because all of his Soldiers had run out of both and were “beginning to stink.”
We love it when Soldiers are specific about what they need and want and we do our best to honor those requests.
We only send name brands such as Axe, Old Spice, Right Guard, Dial for Men, etc. We want to ship the best products because this is all about building the morale of our deployed heroes. We do not ship sample or hotel size items.
J.O.S.H. runs on the principal that if we wouldn’t eat or use something ourselves, we will not ship it to the troops.
How much does a care package cost?
The typical food package costs between $25 and $30 plus shipping. Because of the high quality hygiene products we ship, the typical hygiene packages costs a minimum of $50 plus shipping. (Yes we have to pay for shipping.)
Most food items are purchased in bulk at Sam’s Club, BJ’s Wholesale, etc. Hygiene items are purchased at Walmart, Amazon, Sam’s, and wherever we can find them on sale.
Who packs the care packages?
Volunteers prepare care packages monthly. We pack the boxes at the Sanford Moose Lodge or the Disabled American Veterans in Sanford, Florida. Packages are shipped throughout the month.
How are the packages funded?
We rely upon donations and fundraisers. Motorcycle groups such as MFC MC, Sanford Moose Riders, and West Volusia Moose Riders have been huge supporters of the J.O.S.H. mission and have consistently held motorcycle runs to help fund our packages.
Liberty Mutual Insurance, Liam Fitzpatrick’s Restaurant & Pub and other faithful individuals, organizations and companies have also been great supporters of our mission.
See a full list of our Donors & Sponsors.
No donation is too small and all help is appreciated!
What percentage of funds/proceeds is used for the care packages?
J.O.S.H. is 100% volunteer led and operated. The only expenses paid by J.O.S.H. are the cost of the website, brochure printing, t-shirts for volunteers, etc.
In 2015, 93% of all donations were used directly for the care packages.
In 2016 and 2017, 94% of all proceeds directly benefited the troops.
Our goal is to keep administrative expenses low in order to support as many Soldiers as possible.
All Florida nonprofits that solicit donations are required to register with the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services. Please feel free to verify the J.O.S.H. program costs/administrative expenses by visiting the Check-A-Charity page on the Florida Department of Agriculture and search for J.O.S.H. or Just Our Soldiers' Helpers.
How many packages do you ship/have you shipped?
Throughout 2018, we plan to ship a minimum of 100 care packages per month as long as funds are available.
In 2017 we shipped 1,193 care packages. The number of packages is not necessarily a relevant unit of measure because of variations in box sizes and how they are packed. For the first several years, we shipped Large Flat Rate APO boxes. Due to increased shipping costs, we now ship Regional Rate B Flat Rate boxes that are 12 x 10 ½ x 5. We pack them to the brim.
As of the end of December 2017, we estimate that we've shipped over 60,000 pounds of food and hygiene products during our tenure.
Who can be added to the shipping list?
We ship to active, deployed service members from all branches of the military. Our mission focuses on troops who are deployed to remote overseas locations with an APO or FPO address. We encourage deployed service members to register on the J.O.S.H. website.
Sometimes Soldiers let us know about others who need a “postal pick me up” or who are not receiving mail at all. We add those Soldiers to our shipping list and ship to them regularly for the duration of their deployment provided they confirm receipt of their first care package.
Are your Soldiers only from your local area?
While we do love to ship to deployed troops from Florida, it is not a requirement. We ship to soldiers who are deployed from all over the United States. Sometimes we know which state the units are deployed from, but we normally do not know the individual soldiers' home states.
How many service members are on our list?
We try to keep at least 50 contact names/addresses on our list. Many of the Soldiers on our list share their packages with their platoons so we are usually supporting hundreds of Soldiers at a time.
What must the service member do to remain on the list?
We do not require regular communication because many service members do not have the means to contact us easily. However, they must let us know that at least their first package was delivered. If we do not receive this confirmation, we cannot add them to our regular shipping list. J.O.S.H. operates on a limited budget, so if we cannot confirm that a service member is actually receiving our mail, we cannot continue shipping to them.
When boxes are returned to us as undeliverable, it can cause the items inside to be wasted, plus we have to pay to ship it twice. If a package is returned as undeliverable and we are unable to confirm the address or that the Soldier is still deployed, we remove him or her from the list.
What do we need most?
Monetary donations are great because then we can buy what is really needed. People can help by hosting a fundraiser or even have a collection drive to obtain items. Follow us on Facebook (facebook.com/justoursoldiershelpers) and share our posts so others can learn about us. We do not pay for advertising, so we need help spreading the word.
Do we only ship to deployed service members?
As explained above, J.O.S.H. operates on a very limited budget. We would love to be able to ship to all service members who are serving abroad. However, due to limited resources, our efforts are currently focused on US Service Members who are forward deployed to remote overseas locations.
Are we a political group?
No! As a 501(c)3, we must remain non-partisan and non-political.
Contact us if you would like more information.