While the recession rages on at home and many Americans are struggling to make ends meet, far too many people have forgotten the work our brave men and women are doing overseas. So, Turkey Hill rallied its own troops to send them a message: You are not forgotten.
Last month, the Pennsylvania-based operator of Turkey Hill Dairy and Turkey Hill Minit Markets instituted a month-long program called Operation Hometown Hello to support local troops serving in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Through the program all Turkey Hill Minit Markets in Pennsylvania collected tangible donations for the Pennsylvania National Guard Troops from July 1 to July 31. Each store set up a box where customers could place donations, such as packs of gum or bags of peanuts, that they purchased at the store or brought from home.
“We decided on July for Operation Hometown Hello because of the July 4th holiday. We wanted to thank the troops for all that they do for us each and every day in protecting us and fighting for our freedom, and we thought that by collecting some items and sending them to our Pennsylvania troops, we might brighten their day,” said Erin Dimitriou Smith, public relations manager for Turkey Hill, which operates 247 c-stores in Pennsylvania and one in Indiana.
There are currently 6,000 Pennsylvania National Guard Troops deployed overseas.
The idea for the program came from the local postal service. “We decided it would be an excellent way to help the community and the troops and give them a little bit of a hometown feel, which is why we called it Operation Hometown Hello,” Smith said. “We are thrilled with the response we’ve gotten from our customers. They love the opportunity to make a difference for the troops and hopefully put a smile on their faces.”
Turkey Hill Dairy drivers that deliver milk and other products to the stores are collecting the boxes and transporting them to the post office, for shipment overseas.
Customers were able to donate almost any item they wished, save for items that can melt, such as chocolate or ice cream. A top 10 list of the most requested items was available to help customers know what to donate. The troops’ most requested items included single-serve packages of peanuts and sunflower seeds, beef jerky, gum, pens and pencils, Combos and pretzels.
“Protein and energy bars are a frequent request too—items they can put in a pocket and have on-the-go are popular,” Smith said. “They also did mention that they really enjoy magazines for both men and women.”
The goal of the program was to fill 247 boxes by the end of July, one for every Pennsylvania store. At presstime, the program had already brought in 750 pounds (75 boxes) of donated items from toiletries to candy and magazines. Turkey Hill paid for all shipping costs.
Customers that were not able to donate a tangible item at a local Minit Market had the option of giving a monetary donation by visiting the Web site Turkeyhillcares.com and donating to one of two charities: Our Military Kids, which provides support to children of deployed National Guard and Reserve personnel, as well as to children of severely injured service members through grants for enrichment activities and tutoring; or Homes For Our Troops, which raises funds to provide new homes or adapts existing homes with handicapped accessibility for severely injured servicemen and women and their immediate families.