Jimmy Rogers co-founded Boots for Troops, a Magnolia-based nonprofit, in 2015 with his wife, Lindsey, following Jimmy’s deployment with the U.S. Navy. The Rogers are Tomball High School graduates.
Boots for Troops provides quality custom care packages to active duty military members around the world, helps pay for holiday travel expenses for military members and is launching a military spouse scholarship in 2022, Rogers said. Boots for Troops’ goal is to boost troops’ morale, he said.
Its annual fundraiser, Concert in the Country, returns to Magnolia on Oct. 16 with music by Pat Green, Jake Worthington, Bonnie Bishop, Chad Prather and the Ragamuffins, and Daniel Holmes. Food trucks, vendors and a cook-off will also be on-site. Gates open at 3 p.m. at 32931 Wright Road, Magnolia. General admission tickets are available online.
Rogers said more than 3,200 patrons attended the event in 2020.
“We’re just very thankful for all of the support the community has shown us,” Rogers said.
Where did the idea for Boots for Troops come from?
The idea came in 2015. I was actually deployed with the Navy, so I was on the USS Theodore Roosevelt. ... We were receiving some care packages from other organizations back home. Everyone was grateful to get something from back home. What I saw was we’re getting these boxes full of melted candy, old magazines—it seemed like it was all leftover stuff from department stores and stuff people didn’t really want, and a lot of it went to waste. I started thinking one day ... not only the quality of the care package, but a few people in my work center didn’t get anything. Both of those things kind of inspired me to start the organization.
I thought that we could send better care packages, and [if] we consider, as Americans, we come from the greatest country in the world, then we should send the greatest items and greatest care packages to our troops.
Our first ever event was Tomball Night 2015, and we raised I think $300. ... The whole boots thing comes in because I’m from Texas. ... I used to wear cowboy boots out on liberty and a lot of the guys from different parts of the country were like, ‘Man, I need some boots like that.’ ... When we launched the program we were sending custom care packages with new pairs of boots—we would send cowboy boots, motorcycle boots, it wasn’t about supplying the boots for the troops; it was about morale boosting.
How has Boots for Troops changed since its founding?
Over the first three years we kind of transitioned to where probably 90% of our packages come with uniform and combat boots now because the service member actually chooses the pair of boots they want.
Over the years we’ve added some additional programs—our Warrior Morale Project, [in which] during holidays or emergency situations we’ll start booking flights for E4 and below service members to return to their hometowns to spend Christmas, Thanksgiving or New Year’s with their family, and then we fly them back to base, no cost to the service member.
Next year in 2022, we’re launching ... a military spouse scholarship fund. We’re going to put military spouses who are serving on active duty with their husband or wife in college and try to help them get their degree, so when the military family transitions out of active duty and back into civilian life, the whole family or the husband and wife is better prepared and educated or has some sort of training to get a job.
How many care packages have been sent?
We started off in our early years sending a couple hundred a year, I’d say we were sending 20 or 30 a month. Last year we sent about 975. This year we’re on pace to be somewhere around the same amount, maybe a little more. As it’s grown over the last five years with the support and the funding, we’re starting to send more annually, but we don’t ever want to send more just to send more. Our focus is the quality of the care package and the impact the care package makes. ... For us it’s quality over quantity.
How do you determine where packages are sent?
We get requests from the service members. They can go on our website and request a package. ... Our demand for the program is huge. We’re not able to fill all of the demand. ... It’s mostly been referral and word of mouth. A package hits somewhere and then everybody goes and asks for one.
What goes into a care package?
Each person that requests a package will receive a form to fill out. ... Once we get everything they’ve asked for, we finish the box with what we call fillers, so extra items, like beef jerky, mixed nuts, toiletries to stuff the package to the top. We only send the best stuff. ... We’re able to customize each package to each person. ... People will say, ‘Oh, I miss these cookies from my hometown bakery.’ We’ll call that bakery and get the cookies and put them in the box. We go to great lengths to make it special and customized.
How can the community help?
We’re always looking for volunteers; we’re always looking for help. In January 2022, we’re going to be moving into a new office building in downtown Tomball right across from the post office. We’re going to be hosting a fundraiser to pay for that office building. ...
Concert in the Country that we do every year in October—people attending that and participating, coming out, buying T-shirts, [and] every ticket sale goes to the organization. ... Really just getting the community involved in that event and getting everybody there to support makes a big difference in our ability to continue operating.
As a veteran, what have been some of the greatest challenges for the military community over the last year?
A lot of us are heartbroken by what happened in Afghanistan, especially if you served in the region ... over the last 20 years. If you spent any time over there to see it fall is pretty heartbreaking. ... As far as what I see in the veteran community is there’s challenges in the workforce, and I think veterans are misunderstood. ... People have this assumption that every veteran has an issue with PTSD, and I think it’s not talked about enough that the majority of veterans are actually ... just fine. I don’t have any PTSD. ... But when I say I’m a veteran, they want to ask that question. ... I think it’s just a lack of educating the American people. ... I do see that there is a lot of support and appreciation and love for what our troops do, especially in Texas, and I’m very grateful for that.
Responses may have been edited for length and clarity.