Story and Photo by Tech.Sgt. Mark Olsen, Public Affairs, NJDMAVA
It began at the United For Liberty Rally at Liberty State Park October 2001, according to Don Marshall, Veterans of Foreign Wars past state commander. Hallmark, the greeting card company, was so impressed with how the New Jersey National Guard, the active-duty, and the VFW worked together that Hallmark wanted to be part of the team.
To that end, Hallmark initially donated more than $450,000 wholesale value (three 18-wheeler truck loads) of stationery, calendars, books, decorations and other merchandise.
The big question was where to receive and distribute the merchandise. Maj.Gen. Clark Martin, commander, N.J. Air National Guard, working with Brig.Gen. Glenn K. Rieth, the N.J. adjutant general, arranged for use of a warehouse behind DMAVA headquarters.
In November, another shipment of more than $200,000 of Christmas items, including stationery, gifts, and decorations will be delivered.
Now it is up to the various Guard, active-duty and veteran organizations to distribute the items to deployed Guardsmen, their families, and the state veterans nursing homes. The donated items are only for deployed troops and their families and for hospitalized veterans; not personal use.
For information call 732-244- 3550.