MooreMart to Celebrate 10th AnniversaryAugust 8, 2014
by Marc Ayotte
It is a truly amazing, inspiring and motivating story that started with a simple personal request being answered. And just 10 years later, the service organization known as MooreMart continues to receive national recognition for its patriotism and support of thousands of United States Armed Forces serving throughout the Middle East.
Paul Moore and his sister Carole Biggio are co-founders of MooreMart. It is Moore’s military history that has played an ongoing and telling role in his involvement with this wonderful endeavor. A 1975 graduate of Alvirne High School, Moore finished Airborne School in 1978, completed Ranger School and was commissioned in 1980 and while in the Army served in Korea in 1981.
But Moore’s military service came to a tragic and abrupt end that year when he was involved in a parachuting accident which resulted in him being in a body cast for nine months as well as undergoing therapy for 18 months. Over 20 years later, Moore’s ill-fated jump would in part serve as the impetus for starting the now nationally renowned liaison between deployed U.S. soldiers and caring loved ones at home.
In early 2004, Paul Moore received a request from his brother, Brian, who had been deployed to Afghanistan as part of the New Hampshire National Guard. In the first of his eventual three tours in the Middle East, Brian requested his first care package. A subsequent request by Brian involved sending a care package to a fellow soldier in his unit. That turned into three or four packages per shipment. And as Paul Moore recalls; “it turned into 20, then 40 as word spread to adjacent units.” Soon he was sending out 100 packages per month and the concept of troop support via care packages sent from home, would prove to be monumental.
On August 16, when the next shipment is making its way to the troops, the inception-to-date total count will have reached a staggering 65,000 care packages. Additionally, MooreMart will exceed 8.5 tons of relief supplies shipped, as part of the humanitarian aid effort to help clinics, orphanages, scout troops, schools and other civic organizations in the Middle East.
The moniker of MooreMart came about early on as a result of an e-mail Paul Moore received. He recalls the e-mail starting out with: “Dear MooreMart,” and the reason for that, according to Moore, was because the writer intimated that ‘we believe you have more supplies than Wal*Mart’! “We used the name originally as a good natured joke,” recalled Moore, adding, “next thing you know, people all over the country are sending e-mails to ‘MooreMart’ requesting supplies.”
In the formative months of the service, expenses associated with sending the care packages were paid by Moore, along with his family and friends. In the fall of 2004, Moore began to obtain financial support from veterans organizations and the like and from that point forth as he recalled; “it just exploded.” Because of the increase in volume, shipments went from monthly to every six weeks. “When it (packages) hit four to five hundred, we went to every ten weeks,” said Moore. In the last three years, MooreMart has been averaging 1,000 to 1,200 packages every shipment.
The service also incorporates seasonal themes into their support of the troops. Christmas stockings are a big hit; a record 4,678 stockings were sent in 2010 with an average of 3,000 per year having been shipped since then.
Originally, all items destined for care packages were stored in Moore’s Nashua-based attorney’s office. As the requests increased, the size of the storage facilities needed to house the items changed accordingly. Currently, the donated and purchased items are stored locally in Hudson and when shipment time comes around every 13 weeks, the items are transported to the Nashua National Guard Armory where the three day packing and shipping process takes place.
Thursday is set aside for set-up and inventory. Friday is pre-packing day, with Saturday being the big day when the items are packed and shipped. “Right now it’s a well-oiled machine,” said Moore of the network of volunteers involved in the shipment of the packages. With a core group of 10 volunteers, he says that each packing event day also reflects about 30 different volunteers helping out, resulting in about 100 different people showing up to help get the packages on their way. “Everyone is there because they have a sincere desire to support our troops,” expressed Moore.
One of the afore-mentioned core volunteers is Ted Luszey. Moore has known Luszey for 25 years and says that Luszey offered his services back in the beginning and has since become a vital part of the operation. According to Moore, “Ted is the backbone of the organization. Without his managerial skills and hard work, only a fraction of the packages would be going out the door.” Moore also commends Luszey’s wife, Deborah and their daughter, Ashley, for their spirited commitment to the MooreMart cause.
Each ‘first’ care package sent to a soldier is identical to the next one. However, inside that initial package, as explained by Moore, is an index card on which soldiers are able to submit personal requests for the ensuing shipment. And as is the case with all the items contained in the care packages, there is no cost to the recipient or the family member or friend making the request on behalf of the soldier. “We are one of the few non-profit care package organizations serving on donations from the community,” expressed Moore, adding; “everyone is a volunteer; no one gets paid.”
One of the aspects that Moore pays close attention to is the quality of the items sent to the troops. “We’re very careful about rotating stock,” cited Moore who also noted that all items that are purchased and/or donated, are brand names. “If someone requests Oreos, they get Oreos,” he said with a proud grin. Also, he notes that special arrangements have been made with area suppliers and manufacturers in an attempt to provide the freshest items possible to the troops. “We have on-demand buying,” said Moore, adding relatedly that it takes just seven days for the package to reach its destination. “Think about that,” urged Moore, “half way around the world into a battle zone – I think it’s pretty impressive.”
Moore also indicated that care packages are ‘built’ to suit specific soldier needs in the different geographic regions. For instance, troops in the mountainous terrain of Afghanistan would receive hand warmers to deal with the colder weather, while those stationed in the desert would receive sunscreen. In addition to the necessary, regionally-specific items, Moore lightheartedly indicated that over 8,000 T-shirts bearing the phrase ‘MooreMart Regional Rep’ have been shipped to troops in the Middle East, not to mention 9,200 cases of Girl Scout cookies.
Through the years, MooreMart has received recognition from the White House, the U.S. Senate and the Department of Defense, to go along with citations from the state of New Hampshire. In addition, for their service to the National Guard, Moore has received accolades from all of the major veterans’ organizations. Perhaps the most meaningful of all, was the recognition received from the Congressional Medal of Honor Society; presented to MooreMart for its support of the troops.
In remembering his stint in the army, Moore recalls that back then, it took “forever and a day to get a care package.” While addressing the importance to him of receiving a package from ‘back in the states’, he explained; “it was important for me to know I had friends and family at home thinking about me.” He believes that feeling is prevalent with today’s soldiers as well. “That’s part of the motivation,” he explained with respect to why he is still a driving force in the MooreMart endeavor. “I was very lucky to survive and there were a lot of people in the military that helped me and I’d just like to pay that forward,” revealed Moore.
Today, as a Merrimack Circuit Court Justice, Moore continues to be active in the day-to-day intricacies associated with supplying care packages to the troops. With regard to how he thinks the deployed soldiers’ psyche is affected by the continued receipt of care packages, Moore shared his thoughts, “I truly believe the average service man, and woman appreciates the fact that his or her community is supporting their deployment.” He continued by saying; “by sending care packages, they recognize the community is recognizing the sacrifices that the soldier and his family are making. It’s a constant reminder they are not forgotten and that we appreciate their sacrifice, as a country as a whole.”