OYRSJ will package and ship treats to the men and women still deployed in the Middle East during the upcoming holiday season.
By Zane Clark
Although turkeys and the Thanksgiving holiday might be on most folks’ minds right now, the volunteers of Operation Yellow Ribbon of South Jersey are actually busy thinking about the winter holidays and cookies.
With the winter holidays and the end of the year on the horizon, OYRSJ has announced that the military support group’s annual holiday cookie collection drive has been set for Dec. 1.
Once again this year, OYRSJ officials are asking supporters to donate homemade baked goods and other treats that volunteers with OYRSJ can then package and ship to the men and women still deployed in the Middle East during the upcoming holiday season.
“Operation Yellow Ribbon of South Jersey is honored to offer another opportunity to show our brave women and men deployed in harm’s way that they are supported by grateful Americans here back home,” said OYRSJ chair Dave Silver.
Once again this year, the collection event will take place at the New Jersey 8th Legislative District Office located at 176 Route 70, Suite 13 in Medford.
This year’s event will last from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Dec. 1. OYRSJ volunteers will be on hand to greet supporters and receive their donations.
OYRSJ asks those looking to donate to this year’s event to remember the following:
• In addition to homemade baked goods, supporters can donate cookies and treats purchased from a store.
• For packaging, OYRSJ asks that cookies and other treats are placed in layers in large, resealable zipper storage bags bags or in disposable plastic containers. Cookie tins will be accepted as well, although the additional weight will increase shipping costs. OYRSJ also notes that containers of any type will not be returned.
• OYRSJ also encourages supporters to include unsealed, personal notes with their donations, where supporters can write encouraging messages or about the treat they have provided. Adults can also include e-mail address where a recipient serving overseas may correspond if they have the capability and chose to do so.
• Children can also send a card or note to show support for those serving overseas, but OYRSJ asks children do not include last names, addresses or phone numbers.
For those who would like to make a donation to this year’s cookie drive but cannot attend the Dec. 1 event in Medford, OYRSJ has additional collection points.
Supporters can also drop off donations at Family & Co. Jewelers at Plaza 70 on Route 70 in Marlton on Nov. 29 and Nov. 30.
Supporters can also give their donations on Dec. 1, from 8 to 10:30 a.m., at the Runnemede Fire Company, located at 26 E. 2nd Ave. in Runnemede.
OYRSJ is also accepting financial donations to help with the cost of shipping collected treats to those serving overseas.
Financial costs are especially burdensome for OYRSJ this year, as changes in the way the United States Postal Service handles its shipping of military mail have doubled the costs for OYRSJ to ship overseas.
In past years, the USPS used various locations across the United States to process packages that would be sent to military locations outside of the country, including a processing location in New York that handled those packages sent by OYRSJ.
Yet for 2018, the USPS consolidated those locations to one centralized location in Chicago, meaning OYRSJ must pay higher domestic shipping charges to get its packages to Chicago before they can be sent to those serving outside of the United States.
According to OYRSJ, the group spent $5,500 last year in shipping costs for the 2017 cookie drive. Should the group collect the same amount of treats to be shipped for 2018, OYRSJ officials say the expense would now be $11,000.
Once donations have been collected at the drive on Dec. 1, OYRSJ volunteers pack the treats and mail them to those serving overseas on Monday, Dec. 3.
For more information, contact OperationYellowRibbonSJ@gmail.com.