Some of the Faces Behind One Convenience Store Chain’s Successful Salute to our Troops

Last week, we told you about Kangaroo Express – the southeastern convenience store chain that went above and beyond the call of duty to more than double its campaign goal, just so it could hand over as much money possible to the USO, National Guard and Wounded Warrior Project.

Kangaroo Express store managers Donna Crosby, Joanne Joines and Joe Wilhite and others are recognized for raising the most money during the campaign. Photo by Robert Campell Photography

Salute our Troops” was an example of the very heart of giving – and that’s why we’re so humbled by their effort. But it’s because of the faces behind the check- the Kangaroo Express employees that were committed to getting their customers to donate their spare change, for the sake of our troops, that the 100 days of summer campaign was such a success.

At a check presentation held to recognize the sponsors, districts and stores that gave the most, it was made clear why Kangaroo Express employees were so passionate about the campaign – over 1/3 of them have a military connection. Sullivan’s Island, SC store manager Joe Wilhite joined the Marine Corp because of the 9/11 attacks. He served our country for two years until a bullet to his back left him paralyzed for months and eventually medically discharged. When Kangaroo Express asked its stores to take part in “Salute Our Troops”, Wilhite said he took his employees to the back of their store and told them how important the effort was to him. They asked every single customer that entered their store to contribute and in the end raised $11,000- the fifth highest amount of cash from any of Kangaroo Express’ 1,650 stores.

Charlotte, NC store manager Joanne Joines didn’t give her customers a choice. She took their change without even asking, dropped it in the donation box and told them it was for the troops- troops like her aunt who served in the Infantry during Desert Storm. That boldness helped Joines’ store raise more than $13,000, just slightly less than the store to raise the most money.

That first place title went to Orlando, FL store manager Donna Crosby. After accepting her award at the check presentation, Crosby, whose sister and cousin both serve, challenged all Kangaroo Express stores to out-raise her store next year. A friendly competition, maybe, but there is no doubt there was one uniform goal among Kangaroo Express employees this summer- to best serve those that willingly and sacrificially serve our country every day. As every recognized employee put it, this was their way of saying to their troops “thank you, for all that you do.” – Kenya Friend-Daniel, USO Sr. Communications Specialist