Just Our Soldiers' Helpers Inc.
We have tried to include the most frequently asked questions on this page. If there is anything we haven't answered, please feel free to contact us!
When was J.O.S.H. first started?
The first packages were shipped in December 2010. In April 2011, the organization was incorporated and the application for 501(c) 3 status was filed. The application was approved in December 2011, but it was approved retroactively to April.
What is 501(c)3? The 501(c)3 status is an IRS filing status for non-profit organizations. We are tax exempt and all donations made to J.O.S.H. are 100% tax deductible.
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 base, COP Wilderness, and learned he didn’t have a PX where he could buy food or hygiene products. She started shipping boxes to him to be given away and eventually 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 areas such as Iraq, Horn of Africa, and wherever deployed troops need our support. Our goal is still to reach the troops who are short on hygiene supplies and snacks/food. However, we will 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’ Faces 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. We also had one squad that was sleeping on mattresses with no sheets so we provided those to them. Please visit the Care Package Items page to see the full list of items we most frequently ship.
We will ship special requests. One troop said they were taking showers with a 20 ounce bottle of water, so ALL they wanted was baby wipes. We had one 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 actually love it when Soldiers are specific about what they need and want and we do our best to honor those requests.
We always try to send good brand names such as Axe, Old Spice, Right Guard, Dial for Men, etc. We want to ship the best products because what we do is all about building the morale of our deployed heroes. We do not ship hotel size items unless a Soldier specifically requests them.
J.O.S.H. has been run 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?
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. 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. Some have cost as much as $85 just for the contents.
How are the packages funded?
We rely upon donations and fundraisers. Motorcycle groups 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 and other faithful individuals, organizations and companies have supported our mission. Companies and organizations that have helped support our troops are listed on the J.O.S.H. Supporters page. 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, 94% of all proceeds directly benefited the troops. The only administrative expenses we have are for the website, printing expenses, etc. Our goal is to keep administrative expenses low in order to support as many Soldiers as possible.
All Florida non-profits 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 clicking on this link to view the Gift Giver's Guide. Simply type J.O.S.H. or Just Our Soldiers' Helpers as the business name and our financial information will be shown.
How many packages do you ship? How many have you shipped?
During 2016 we shipped over 1,000 care packages. The number of packages is not a relevant unit of measure because some people pack differently than others and there are many sizes of boxes. J.O.S.H. packs the large flat rate USPS boxes and we pack them as full as we can possible get them. We pack them very neatly so more items will fit. We focus on the quality of the care packages, not on the quantity. As of the end of December 2016, we estimated that we had shipped over 50,000 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 combat zones and the address must be an APO or FPO address. We prefer to ship our hygiene products to service members who do not have easy access to a PX or stores. We encourage deployed service members to register on this website. When we do not have enough names, we utilize a website where Soldiers register for care packages.
Are your Soldiers only from your local area?
We ship to Soldiers who are deployed from all over the United States. We usually know which state they are deployed from, but we normally do not know the home state of the individual Soldiers we support.
How many service members are on our list?
We try to keep at least 50 contact names/addresses on our list. Sometimes our contacts are individual Soldiers and sometimes they are Chaplains. We are often supporting between 500 – 1000 Soldiers through these contacts.
What happens once the package is delivered to the Soldier?
As mentioned previously, many of the Soldiers to whom we ship are contacts for their platoon or unit. When the packages are received, they are typically set out and the Soldiers take from them the items they need. Sometimes the contact will write to us to tell us about certain Soldiers 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 (at least a box every other week) for the duration of their deployment.
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 or the person who gave us the contact information must let us know the first package has arrived. They must also let us know when they are expected to return stateside, so we can remove them from our shipping list.
When boxes are returned to us as undeliverable, it can cause the items inside to be wasted, plus it ends up costing us twice to ship it. 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.
Who packs the boxes?
Volunteers pack the boxes. We have a core group of packers so the packages are more consistent.
Where are we located?
We are located in Lake Mary, Florida, just outside of Orlando.
What do we need most/how can people help us?
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. People can also help spread the word about what we’re doing.
Do we only ship to deployed service members?
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 deployed to combat zones or locations that are considered hardship deployments.
Are we a political group?
No! As a 501(c)3, we must remain non-partisan and non-political.