Kangaroo Express Raises $2.7 Million for Troops and Families During its Salute Our Troops Campaign

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The Pantry, Inc., came through big again this year for military charities, raising nearly $2.7 million during third annual Kangaroo Express Salute Our Troops campaign. The USO received $919,000 from the campaign to put toward its programs and services for troops 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,” said Jose Venezia, senior vice president of operations for Kangaroo Express, in a release. “The tremendous spirit and passionate gratitude demonstrated during this summer’s Salute Our Troops campaign rallied support and pride in the communities we serve.

“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.”

The campaign – which lasted from June 26 through Sept. 3 – invited Kangaroo Express store guests to donate during their visits and encouraged communities to send special messages of gratitude with the military. Kangaroo Express has more than 1,550 Kangaroo Express stores across 13 states.

Kangaroo Express’ Salute Our Troops campaign has raised approximately $8.4 million the last three years. This year’s campaign benefitted the USO and Fisher House Foundation, along with eight state-based military support organizations.

You can see more photos of Salute Our Troops events on Kangaroo Express’ Facebook page.

Romy Rides Again

Kangaroo Express’ Salute Our Troops campaign is back for a second year to help the USO. The campaign — which goes from June 27 through September 4 — invites guests of 1,600 Kangaroo Express stores across 13 states to donate funds to support the USO’s mission of lifting the spirits of troops and their families. To help raise awareness and excitement, they’ve sent out a caravan on tour featuring custom patriotic vehicles — including a very special motorcycle.

In Sept 2008, Romulo “Romy” Camargo was shot in the neck during a firefight in the mountains of Afghanistan. The bullet shattered his C-3 vertebrate, which left him paralyzed from the shoulders down. Romy, a Coral Springs, FL native, is currently recovering at the James A. Haley VA Medical Center in Tampa. With his wife Gabriela and their two-year-old son at his side, Romy became a mentor, providing inspiration to other wounded soldiers and their families that are just beginning the recovery process. Despite his paralysis, Romy’s dream was to ride again.

And so it become a mission for many. Izzy Izquierdo, owner of Lefty Brothers Motorcycles in Fort Bragg, NC donated his spare time to design and build a custom motorcycle for Romy. “As soon as I left the hospital, ” Izzy said, “I told my wife Barb I was going to build a bike to be dedicated to Romy.” Izzy spent countless hours designing a one of a lend custom bobber and attached sidecar that holds Romy and his motorized wheelchair safely. It’s done, and it’s now traveling with the Kangaroo Express Salute the Troops caravan, helping raise money for military organizations like the USO! –  Vyque White, USO Director of New Media

Georgia Couple Rallies Support for USO

Jack and Pat Solomon, decade-long USO Georgia volunteers, at their home outside of Atlanta, GA. USO photo by Joseph Andrew Lee

If you are in the military and have spent any time at the Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, you have probably been hugged at least once by Pat Solomon.

She and her husband Jack–a graduate of West Point–are two of the many friendly, welcoming and warm couples who volunteer at USO Georgia. For the past 10 years, the Solomons have worked at least three days per week at the Atlanta airport USO, but more recently they have embarked on a new mission—fundraising.

Throughout the summer the Solomons will travel over 1,000 miles to visit more than 100 Kangaroo Express stores in Georgia, dropping off USO fundraising materials and engaging with employees to officially launch the Kangaroo Express Salute Our Troops campaign.

Involving more than 1,600 Kangaroo Express stores, the Salute Our Troops campaign is the largest grassroots fundraising initiative the USO has ever participated in, raising $1.3 million for the USO in its first year.

From Memorial Day to Labor Day, custom painted vehicles and decorated veterans of the recent wars will travel throughout the South capturing the attention of Kangaroo Express guests and educating the public on problems facing the military and military families.

According to USO account manager Kirk Parker, the campaign has been such a success because of patriots like the Solomons who literally go the extra mile to develop a personal relationship with Kangaroo Express staff and management of every store in their area.

“We do what we can do here because these men and women are doing what they can over there,” said Jack Solomon. “Our small contribution of time and gas pales in comparison to the sacrifices being made by our sons and daughters overseas. It’s our way of saying ‘Thank You’ to them for volunteering to serve. Not everyone can, and not everyone will. We must recognize and honor this.”

“She (Pat) is the biggest military cheerleader you’ve ever seen,” he added. “She absolutely lives and breathes the USO and the support for our troops. We believe that energy is contagious—it can be spread to the staff of Kangaroo so that they bring the same energy toward troop support you might find at an actual USO.”

“He is the reason I do it,” said Pat. “He and every other American who has ever served this country—I love them all.” — By Joseph Andrew Lee, USO Staff Writer

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Kangaroo Express Starts Second Annual ‘Salute Our Troops’ Campaign

Vroom vroom! Keep your eyes open for these cars at your nearby Kangaroo Express!

The Pantry, Inc. has just announced the second annual Salute Our Troops® campaign, inviting customers in its more than 1,600 Kangaroo Express convenience stores across 13 states to demonstrate united support for military personnel and their families.

From June 27 through Sept. 4, Kangaroo Express and Salute Our Troops will again invite store guests to make donations to the campaign and empower communities to shine a spotlight of praise and gratitude on the military.

Donations from the campaign will support the USO, lifting the spirits of America’s troops and their families; Wounded Warrior Project, honoring and empowering injured servicemen and women; and six state-based military support organizations. In its inaugural year, the 2011 Salute Our Troops campaign raised $2.5 million dollars, breaking fundraising records for many beneficiary organizations, including the largest grassroots fundraising initiative in the USO’s 70-year history!!

“Salute Our Troops was an overwhelming success last year thanks to the passion and commitment of our employees who brought the campaign to life, rallying communities and the customers we serve to support our military and their families. We want to continue that tradition of excellence,” said John Fisher, senior vice president of marketing, merchandising and restaurant operations, Kangaroo Express. “Building on our legacy of commitment and gratitude for the sacrifices required to protect our nation and preserve our freedom, we are again joining our partners to show our united appreciation to raise money for military cause organizations.”

The six state-based organizations benefiting cover five states throughout the Southeast and include the Enlisted Association of National Guard of Tennessee Auxiliary Soldier Airman Relief Fund Inc., Florida National Guard Foundation, Georgia National Guard Family Support Foundation, North Carolina National Guard Soldiers and Airmen Assistance Fund, South Carolina Military Family Care Association, and the United States Veterans Corps based in North Carolina.

Salute Our Troops celebrations will be held at Kangaroo Express stores throughout the southeastern United States led by the Salute Our Troops Caravan. This year, retired Staff Sergeant Kelly Fromm will join the caravan with his “Rev-It-Up for Wounded Warriors” custom patriotic show cars. Since 2010, Fromm has traveled around the country in his custom cars to honor fallen American soldiers and raise funds for various veteran groups.

Celebrations will also include the Salute Our Troops Command Center, where store guests will add their own voice of gratitude with “shout outs” of pride and appreciation. Many will be showcased on the Salute Our Troops website at www.KESalute.com to share with troops and families around the world.

Donations continue to support our military and their families. The 2011 Salute Our Troops donations have been helping operate 12 USO centers and three USO military family support programs, as well as Wounded Warrior Project programs designed to nurture the mind and body, and encourage economic empowerment and engagement. Emergency grant programs run by the state-based military support organizations have been able to distribute grants for military families and even build a rehabilitation pool for a wounded sergeant.

“We are proud to join Kangaroo Express in showing our support for troops and their families,” said Chris DeLong, vice president of the Dollar, Drug and Convenience Store Channel for PepsiCo North America Beverages – the leading corporate contributor for the initiative. “This annual campaign continues to help Kangaroo Express, its guests and PepsiCo give back to our cherished service men and women. It is also a great example of Performance with Purpose – our company’s commitment to sustainable growth by investing in a healthier future for people and our planet, and respecting, supporting and investing in the local communities where we work, live and operate.”