Operation Sam’s Club 2013: FOUR TONS of Donations for Our Troops!

Iridium Technology, in cooperation with the Reno Sam’s Club and Operation Shoebox (Belleview, FL), has once again collected FOUR TONS of donations for U.S. troops stationed overseas. Tom Jones, President of Reno-based Iridium Technology, spearheaded the effort. Tom has organized a group of dedicated volunteers in Reno who work to send care packages to deployed troops and raise awareness that our deployed troops need our support.

Operation Sam’s Club 2013 was our fifth annual collection drive to support our deployed servicemen and servicewomen.

Operation Sam’s Club is our biggest community service event of the year, and for 2013 we set the goal of matching our performance in 2012: FOUR TONS of donations – enough for 400 large care packages. Over the weekend of October 5th, Tom and his group of volunteers greeted people as they entered the Reno Sam’s Club and encouraged them to purchase one or two additional items that would be put in care packages for our deployed troops. By the end of the weekend we had collected FOUR TONS of donations – meeting our goal and matching our incredible donations in 2012! The donated goods were then all shipped by Sam’s Club to Operation Shoebox in Florida, where they will be put into Christmas care packages for deployed troops. Additionally, over the weekend, Tom was able to collect $1200 for Operation Shoebox to support their ongoing efforts.

2015 Update: Unfortunately we needed to suspend Operation Sam’s Club after 2013 because Sam’s Club dropped their program to ship the collected goods to Operation Shoebox in Florida.  (Let me say that I respect Sam’s Club’s decision, and I am grateful that they offered their support in previous years!)  We are hoping to get Operation Sam’s Club back on track in 2016 – watch this space.

“Operation Sam’s Club” – 2013

Tom is shown with Sandi DeSilva, who has made an incredible contribution to our ongoing efforts to support our troops. Over the weekend of October 5th, 2013 we filled 13 shipping pallets overflowing with donations for the troops, and also collected over $1200 for Operation ShoeBox. Tom has been working closely with Sandi for five years now to support our deployed US Marines and armed forces. Sandi’s tremendous efforts are in memory of her brother Jeffery R. Wentzell — Lance Corporal US Marines, who was killed in action at Quang Tri, Vietnam on Valentine’s Day 1968, at age 19. Sandi is a huge help and a great inspiration with her positive attitude and unlimited energy to support our deployed troops.

The “Operation Sam’s Club” Team – 2013

Iridium was joined by over 20 of Tom’s friends and community contacts to make our 2013 effort a huge success. The brothers from the Phi Delta Theta fraternity at UNR made a huge impact to help make the event a success. This picture shows last year’s team at our “victory dinner” – Tom’s way of thanking all the volunteers.

Tom is shown with the newest member of the “Operation Sam’s Club” Team – his wife Lek.

About Operation Sam’s Club

Iridium Technology is proud to organize and sponsor “Operation Sam’s Club” to provide support to deployed US Marines in Afghanistan. While the initiative is named “Operation Sam’s Club” to thank Sam’s Club for the use of their premises, this effort is 100% organized, managed, and sponsored by Iridium Technology. There are three major goals for the ongoing campaign:

  • To provide direct support to our deployed Marines by sending them care packages
  • To thank our Marines for their service and remind them that they have strong support from the American people
  • To encourage people to go to http://www.adoptahero.us/adoptamarine.htm to learn more about the Adopt-a-Marine program and to sponsor a deployed U.S. Marine deployed in Afghanistan

What started with the Jones family adopting and supporting individual Marines has grown into a group of citizens in Reno putting together care packages on a year-round basis. Iridium Technology is very proud to organize and sponsor Operation Sam’s Club, and will continue to put our best efforts and financial support towards growing the program.

How do we know that the program is working? Just read the letters of thanks from Marines at the bottom of this page!

Operation Shoebox: www.operationshoebox.com

Operation Shoebox was founded in 2003 in an effort to send support, snacks and much needed personal care items to our troops deployed outside of the USA. We encourage citizens to support their fighting men and women deployed overseas in these dangerous times. The most frequent response we get from the “boots on the ground” is that receiving mail from the home front is a huge morale boost!

Adopt a Marine: www.adoptahero.us/adoptamarine.htm

This is not about whether you support the politics behind the deployment of US and coalition forces; this organization is simply about supporting our men and women who are deployed. You are assigned an individual Marine and can support them during their deployment through both care packages and email. Iridium Technology is currently sponsoring our fifth U.S. Marine. (You can also choose to adopt a serviceman or woman from the Navy, Army, or Air Force).

The Operation Sam’s Club Story

(Told by Tom Jones – President of Iridium Technology)

The Jones family has been sponsoring deployed Marines through the Adopt-a-Marine program for the past several years, and we are currently sponsoring our fifth deployed Marine. In 2009, when we sent the first care package to our latest adopted Marine, he sent us a heartfelt email thanking our family for our generosity. He went on to say that the other Marines were jealous because he had gotten such an amazing package when some of the other Marines never received anything, not even from their families. I kept coming back to the thought of “It’s not right that the other Marines aren’t getting great packages too”… so I came up with the idea of setting up in front of our local supermarket to put together a bunch of great packages for our deployed Marines. In October 2010 I got approval to set up in front of the store. As with all our family projects, my boys Alex (12) and Evan (10) were working right at my side.

As shoppers would come up, the boys would ask them if they would like to help support our Marines who were deployed in Iraq and Afghanistan. We would then explain to them that while they were shopping we were asking them to pick up something extra for our Marines: a pack of gum, a box of cookies, toiletries, magazines, snacks, etc. And we always reminded them not to forget our Woman Marines who are also deployed. We also told them that Marines love Monster energy drinks.

I have to say that the response from the shoppers was amazing. 75-80% of the people we approached returned with something to put into one of the boxes. And about a dozen people returned with multiple bags containing $20-$40 worth of goodies! In the afternoon we collected enough goodies to fill 10 USPS flat rate boxes. And a couple people that I gave my contact information to, dropped by my house later in the week with more boxes of goodies. The response and support from the community was so amazing that we decided to make this an annual event.

To take it to the next level I contacted the local Sam’s Club, figuring that people would donate more since they could buy in bulk. We set up in front of Sam’s Club in October 2010 with the goal of putting together FIFTY large flat rate boxes. To make a long story short, rather than 50 boxes we were able to put together over 100 boxes during Operation Sam’s Club 2010. The next big breakthrough was an article about our efforts in the Reno Gazette Journal. My contact information was included, and I was contacted by dozens of people who wanted to donate supplies for the care packages, to help with shipping, and to collect in front of Sam’s Club next year. The project has taken on a life of its own – I now have a dozen volunteers, and we are now working year-round to put together packages for our deployed Marines.

When I tell people about the program they many times assume that I must have been a Marine (It must be my cool haircut!), but I always tell them that I did not have that honor. While I was not a Marine, I am a big fan and supporter of The Corps. It started with me reading various books on history and the military. Whenever I came across the Marines in my reading, I was always impressed that they had the same values as me: hard work, personal sacrifice, strong ethics, and taking on the hard tasks. And then kicking some serious butt! Since starting Operation Sam’s Club in 2009 we have sent almost 500 large care packages to deployed troops — each package stuffed with 15-20 pounds of goodies and toiletries. I am proud to put my efforts and the resources of Iridium Technology into supporting our deployed Marines.

Tom Jones, President – Iridium Technology

Thanks from Deployed Marines & Troops

The letters below are a sample of the thanks that we have received from deployed Marines and other servicemen and servicewomen:

(2/2015) “Sir, Major Morgan here, was going through old emails and found this one from you and I wanted to take a few minutes to once again say thank you to you for all you did in support of me and the Marines in my charge during our Afghanistan deployment. I know it’s been years but, I have not forgotten your kindness.” Major J.M., USMC

(7/2013) “Dear Operation Sam’s Club: We would like to send our sincerest thank you’s for the wonderful donations that you sent. The troops here in Afghanistan truly appreciate all of the help and support that we receive from folks back home. It is the work of people like you that keep our morale up and keep us going. This is why we serve. Many thanks and God bless.” Captain Alicia G. (deployed in Afghanistan)

(5/2013) “Dear Sir, I hope that you receive this letter, and that you and your family are well both in spirt and health. I want to thank you for your packages of goodies and for volunteering your precious time and efforts to help complete strangers. I really appreciate what you are doing for me and other soldiers. Believe it or not, you guys give us hope and courage to continue, even on our toughest days. Thank you and God bless you.” Private Celina C. (deployed in Afghanistan)

(4/2013) “To the Operation Sam’s Club / Operation Shoebox volunteers: The members of the 386 Expiditionary communications squadron would like to thank you for putting in all time, money, and effort to send us care packages this holiday season. We are so appreciative of everything you gave us. It definitely made us feel special and supported by your community. We hope you had an enjoyable holiday season at home, and we will be back to join our families soon.” Lt. Ahn P. (deployed in Afghanistan)

(3/2013) “Dear Sir, Thank you for everything that you and your “Operation Sam’s Club” volunteers collected for us! It is unbelievable how much things like your care packages brighten our days. Thank you for your support of our deployed troops!” Private Amy M. (deployed in Afghanistan)

(2/2013) “Thank you for all the support it really means a lot. Especially on the days you feel all alone… it’s good to know that there are some things that can still keep you going. I think what you and your family do for all of us is one of the greatest gifts in the world. Thank you very much once again and although some don’t have the time to say it, they enjoy receiving something from someone that cares. I don’t know how many Marines i have seen cry when they receive a package. There were a couple in my unit that didn’t receive anything from anyone. And then there were Marines who would black out their names on packages, not even open it, and give it away to junior Marines. So although it might not seem much to you it really goes a long way and makes a huge amount of difference.” Lance Corporal Rosa R. (deployed in Afghanistan)

(12/2012) “Sir, Received the 2 boxes of care packages and just wanted to say “THANK YOU SO MUCH!!! Thanks again for everything, stay safe always, and thanks for the efforts of you, your family, and your friends in Reno. They are greatly appreciated by my troops.” Captain R.F. (deployed in Afghanistan)

(10/2012) “Hey Tom, my unit made it safe and sound back into southern California. I received one of your boxes recently and I just wanted to extend my gratitude for all of the hard work you, your family, and other locals have put forth for sending these care packages to us while in the field. I can’t tell you how much they mean to us, and the smiles where always priceless when I had a package because of you and your program. If there is anything you need please feel free to reach me at any time and I’ll be more than happy to help! Tell everyone thanks from us here at 7th ESB and I hope to speak to you again soon.” PFC James R. (deployed in Afghanistan)

(7/2012) “Mr. Jones, I want to thank you for the outstanding care package your family and organization sent to me. I shared it with my soldiers and everyone enjoyed it immensely. Just a little information about myself: I’m a SGT in the 485th MP CO working out of the Detainee Facility Inside Parwan (DFIP). We work 12 hour shifts running every position in the prison from administration to cell extraction. The care packages we receive are a nice break in the monotony and are greatly appreciated. Thank you for the time and effort you and your friends and family put in to supporting us. Most soldiers will tell you they don’t do this for the recognition we receive, but Americans like yourself are sacrificing your time and resources for little to no recognition and I just wanted to take the time to tell you that we all appreciate the sacrifices you make for us.” Thank you. Sergeant J.K. (deployed in Afghanistan)

(6/2012) “Greetings, I wanted to take a moment to thank you for all of your efforts to bring some aid and comfort to those of us deployed. Your gifts are reaching a wide number of Soldiers, Airmen, Sailors, and Marines. In this environment you really learn to appreciate the smallest things. You have no idea how much of an impact on the morale of the troops your generous donations have. Regardless of whether it is necessities or extras for entertainment, your gifts can really improve the health and welfare of someone feeling the strains of long hours and sometimes horrible supply lines. I don’t know how often you hear back from us, but since you put so much effort into taking care of us, please allow me to make sure you understand that your efforts are truly appreciated. Thank you, we are grateful for your generosity.” Staff Sergeant D.H.(deployed in Afghanistan – Nevada Army National Guard)

(5/2012) “Dear Mr. Jones – I just received a care package and letter from you folks and I just wanted to thank you all for your kind thoughts and continued support with the men and women serving in harm’s way. It’s a great feeling whenever Soldiers received letters and/or care packages from back home coz’ it lets us know that our families and friends care for us and that we’re always in their thoughts.” Captain R.F. (deployed in Afghanistan – Nevada Air National Guard(8/2011) “Dear Tom – You got my address from your mailman Don who knew that you were sending care packages to deployed Marines. I received your package and I want to express how much it meant to us over here. It makes us feel good to know people in the States actually are thinking of us and are nice enough to send packages. We should all be returning by the end of November, so we are getting closer to coming home. I can’t wait!” Thanks again, Lance Corporal Matt A. (deployed in Afghanistan)

(5/2012) “Dear Sir, I received your care package today and I greatly appreciate it. Thank you for your support and donations. The other Marines and myself will certainly use the gifts.” Kind regards, Lance Corporal Brittany S. (deployed in Afghanistan)

(3/2012) “I am speechless in the amount of work, time, and effort that was put together by your family! Because of people like you it is making our deployment away from our family, friends, and country a little more enjoyable. Your dedication in reaching deployed service members gives us small reminders of home. Each day we look forward to the mail call. Marines and Sailors share the donated items. Keep up the great work and I pray that you all have a safe and enjoyable summer.” Gunnery Sergeant Rachael.G. (deployed in Afghanistan)

(1/2012) “Dear Tom — Thank you very much for your support. I appreciate that you are supporting other branches of the armed forces besides the Marines. I am a female Army Specialist deployed in Djibouti, Africa. I loved the package and it brightened my day to know that your family and the American people support our troops.” Specialist Stepanie .E. (deployed in Africa)

(12/2011) “Dear Mr. Jones — I am Sgt R.M. and I work under Captain J.M. He was kind enough to distribute the packages throughout the office here and gave much credit to you and your efforts. From what I read on the included paper, it is a conjoined effort of your company and your family. I cannot emphasize enough, my gratitude for your kindness and strong support. I too have a family back at home which consists of my loving wife and 3 little ones. So I know what it means to be able to come together and do something as family that you all strongly believe in. I really enjoyed the contents of the packages as most of the goodies hit close to home. So thank you and your family for your hard work, effort, and even more so, your strong support. Thank you for everything. Just know that your care and efforts highly pay off. Take care and thank you so much.” Sergeant Richard .M. (deployed in Afghanistan)

(10/2011) “Dear Sir — I just wanted to drop you a line to let you know how grateful we are to have received numerous generous care packages from your family. While we have already begun to enjoy the treats of the care package, I couldn’t help but think about how awesome it was that your family is so many thousands of miles away, whom none of us have ever met, would be so generous to send us great care packages. I just wanted to take a few minutes to express the gratitude on behalf of my Marines and myself.” Thank you — Lance Corporal L.W. (deployed in Afghanistan)

(7/2011) “Dear Mr. Jones — Thank you so much for the 100% support. All the Marines faces lit up when they saw the jerky, snacks, and magazines in the package that you sent. What a great surprise! Our Marines and Sailors are really making a difference over here.” Sergeant Major C.B. (deployed in Afghanistan)

(6/2011) “Dear Sir — Wanted to send an e-mail thanking you for sending care packages to the troops in Afghanistan. Not only are the US troops benefiting from the care packages but, so are the U.K., Estonian, and Danish personnel working with us.” Gunnery Sergeant V.P. (deployed in Afghanistan)

(4/2011) “Dear Tom — We have received 5 boxes thus far and I passed them out amongst the Marines. The donations from your company, your family, and your community are greatly appreciated.” Captain J.M. (deployed in Afghanistan)

(3/2011) “Dear Tom — I am a Marine Officer stationed in Afghanistan and recently received a package prepared by you. I can’t express how much it meant to me to receive something that I can also share with my Marines and Sailors. We all share when we receive a box as if we all came from the same family in the states and mom just sent us something new. This is my second 7 month deployment within 18 months and the second Christmas away from home. I love what I do and the Marines and Sailors I lead but the support you have shown reminds us that the price we are paying is appreciated. I wish you and your family the best. Semper Fi.” Major L. P. (deployed in Afghanistan)

(12/2010) “To the Jones Family: I received your incredible care package today and I must say that I have hit the jackpot to be adopted by such a cool family during my deployment. I want you all to know that I really appreciate your time and work you put into supporting us guys out here.” Lance Corporal N.B. (Deployed in Afghanistan)

(8/2010) “Dear Tom: Just letting you know that the package came today! I loved everything that you sent. All the goodies and magazines are perfect. I have to say that I am feeling a little guilty – many of the Marines that I am deployed with have been here for months without receiving a single package. And then this package comes for me absolutely crammed with incredible stuff… Of course I shared everything. The magazines were greatly appreciated and help us to stay connected with what is going on at home. The cards from your sons were cute. Thank you so much for your generous support.” Lance Corporal S.G. (Deployed in Afghanistan)

(10/2007) “Dear Tom, I would like to take this opportunity to express my sincere gratitude and appreciation for what you have done for us. Your generosity and care has been well received by my fellow Marines and me. I cannot begin to tell you how touching it is when you come to the realization that someone whom you’ve never met has taken aside some of their own time to make time for you.” Gunnery Sergeant J.J. (deployed in Iraq)