When was JOSH founded?
Kathy Hewitt began shipping care packages in December 2010. The organization filed for 501(c)3 status in April 2011. We received retroactive approval in December 2011.
Where are we located?
Our packing facility is located near Orlando in Longwood, Florida.
Why was JOSH 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 did not know what to send. 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 extra care packages for him to share with his battle buddies. Eventually Kathy began finding/supporting more Soldiers at other locations.
Where do we ship?
JOSH ships to U.S. service members who are deployed to combat zones. Our mission is to support troops who have limited access to a PX/BX. We also ship to others who are deployed and simply need a morale boost.
What goes in the boxes?
We ship many hygiene items such as baby wipes, 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, water flavors and other items.
If you are considering donating items, please contact us for a list of accepted items. Due to storage limitations, we accept only specific items for our care packages.
Are items in the care packages donated to JOSH by corporations?
No. JOSH purchases the items that go into our care packages. We use the money from fundraisers to purchase the items and pay shipping on the care packages.
We only send name brand items. We want to ship the best products possible because this is all about building the morale of our deployed heroes. We do not ship sample or hotel size items.
JOSH 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?
Because of the quality of our care package items, the average cost of a typical package averages about $70 (including shipping).
Who packs the care packages?
Volunteers prepare care packages monthly. Follow us on social media or visit our Volunteer site on Sign-Up Genius.
What percentage of funds/proceeds is used for the care packages?
JOSH is 100% volunteer led and operated. We strive to keep administrative expenses low in order to support as many service members 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 JOSH program costs/administrative expenses by visiting the Check-A-Charity page on the Florida Department of Agriculture and search for JOSH or Just Our Soldiers' Helpers.
How many packages do you ship/have you shipped?
In 2020 we shipped 2,492 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.
As of the end of December 2020, we estimated that JOSH has shipped over 135,000 pounds of food and hygiene products during our tenure.
COVID-19 caused most of our fundraisers in 2020 to be canceled. Thus we had to cut back on our number of monthly packages during 2020. Fundraisers have started back up and we hope to resume shipping 180 packages a month by mid-year 2021.
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 JOSH website. We ship to all branches of the military.
Sometimes service members 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.
Do you only ship to service members from your area?
While we do love to ship to deployed troops from Florida, it is not a requirement. We ship to US Troops who are deployed from all over the United States. We normally do not know the individual service member's home state.
How many service members are on our list?
We try to keep at least 75 contact names/addresses on our shipping list. Many of the Soldiers on our list share their packages with others who are deployed with them, so we are usually supporting hundreds of Soldiers at a time.
Do we share address from service member requests?
The short answer is, no. We receive requests from our service members without any implied consent that we have permission to share their information. As a result, we feel it is not our place to do so.
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. JOSH operates on a limited budget. If we cannot confirm that a service member is actually receiving our mail, we cannot continue shipping to them.
Boxes that are returned to us as undeliverable cause the items inside to be wasted and we then have to pay postage again to ship the package again. If a package is returned to JOSH and we are unable to confirm the address or that the service member 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. 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, JOSH 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.