The Pantry Inc. announced its third annual summer-long Kangaroo Express “Salute Our Troops” fundraising campaign has raised nearly $2.7 million, bringing the total to $8.4 million raised over the past three summers.
From Independence Day through Labor Day, June 26 through Sept. 3, Kangaroo Express invited store guests to make donations to the campaign and encouraged communities to share special messages of gratitude to the military. Through more than 1,550 Kangaroo Express stores across 13 states, customers and communities enthusiastically demonstrated united support for military personnel and their families.
“Kangaroo Express guests, associates and partners have once again united to show their appreciation for the sacrifices made by our troops and their families. The tremendous spirit and passionate gratitude demonstrated during this summer’s Salute Our Troops campaign rallied support and pride in the communities we serve,” said Joe Venezia, senior vice president of operations, Kangaroo Express. “This significant donation builds on our ongoing commitment to our nation’s troops and their families. With more than half of our stores near military installations and one-third of our associates directly connected to our troops, it’s a commitment to our family.”
Donations from the campaign will directly support the USO, helping to lift the spirits of America’s troops and their families around the world; Fisher House Foundation, donating “comfort homes” at major military and Virginia medical centers that enable military and Veteran’s families to be close to a loved one during hospitalization; as well as eight state-based military support organizations.
Since its inaugural year in 2011, the Salute Our Troops campaign has broken fundraising records for many beneficiary organizations and is among the most accomplished grassroots campaigns the USO has been involved in during its more than 70-year history.
The other Salute Our Troops beneficiaries span five states throughout the Southeast and include the Enlisted Association of the National Guard of Tennessee Auxiliary Soldier Airman Relief Fund, Florida National Guard Foundation, Georgia National Guard Family Support Foundation, Soldiers and Airmen Assistance Fund of North Carolina, USO of North Carolina, South Carolina Military Family Care Association, and the Patriot Foundation and United States Veterans Corps, both based in North Carolina.
This summer’s donations will build on those collected during the past two Salute Our Troops campaigns to continue to support our military and their families. These donations have helped to operate 35 USO centers in nine states and drive USO programs that support wounded, ill and injured troops and their caregivers, families of the fallen, America’s troops and military families. In addition, thanks to Salute Our Troops donations, emergency grant programs run by the state-based military support organizations have distributed grants for military families that support a wide range of needs, including car payments and medical bills.
More than 150 Salute Our Troops celebrations were held at Kangaroo Express stores and community events throughout the southeastern U.S. led by Silver Star recipient SSG Tommy Rieman and retired U.S. Army soldier and drag racer Don O’Neal, with his custom 2009 Mullis Salute Our Troops Dragster. The events included Family Fun Nights, inviting military families out for a free night of entertainment, food and fun. Banners signed with messages of thanks and appreciation by store guests throughout the tour are being shared with troops and their families at USO centers throughout the Southeast and overseas.
Salute Our Troops presenting sponsor, PepsiCo, one of the world’s largest food and beverage companies with iconic brands such as Pepsi-Cola, Quaker, Tropicana, Gatorade and Frito-Lay, was the leading corporate contributor to Kangaroo Express’ fundraising goal for the third consecutive year.
“We are proud to once again continue our support with Kangaroo Express in this annual campaign that year after year provides much needed funds and support for troops and their families,” said Chris DeLong, vice president of the Dollar, Drug and Convenience Store Channel for PepsiCo North America Beverages.