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A Big Salute: Kangaroo Express Donates Funds to USO

Thursday, October 04, 2012

By Joseph Andrew Lee 

RALEIGH, N.C. — Despite the threat of rain, Kangaroo Express executives presented the USO with a Wednesday at a celebratory event held at the PNC Arena.

The celebration, which included live music by Outlaw 21 and skydivers from the U.S. Army Rangers Parachute Demonstration Team, marked the official end of the Salute Our Troops fundraising campaign. The fundraising initiative was supported by more than 1,500 Kangaroo Express convenience store locations across 13 states in the Southeast and raised funds through customer donations. Those donations have been shared among several military support organizations, including the USO.

Hundreds of people attended Wednesday’s production to applaud a vast group, including volunteers like Jack and Pat Solomon of USO Georgia, who drove nearly 3,000 miles this summer to raise funds at every Kangaroo Express location in their home state.

“We enjoy [fundraising] just as much as we enjoy thanking the troops at the airport USO Center, because it's the same thing to us,” said Jack, who has been a USO volunteer for 15 years. “Fundraising gives us just as much joy, because we know firsthand where that money goes."

More than 200 Salute Our Troops celebrations were held this summer at Kangaroo Express stores and community events throughout the Southeast, led by Silver Star recipient Army Sgt. Tommy Reiman and a Salute Our Troops Caravan of custom U.S. military vehicles. In the Salute Our Troops Command Center, store guests had the opportunity to add their own voice of gratitude with what the campaign dubbed “shout-outs of pride and appreciation.” More than 3,000 shout-outs are currently showcased on the campaign’s website.

“Kangaroo Express guests and associates elevated the Salute Our Troops campaign to unprecedented levels this summer,” said John Fisher, Senior Vice President of Marketing, Merchandising and Restaurant Operations for Kangaroo Express. “It is their enthusiasm and passion that shows we, as a community, are here to support our troops and their families.”

Fisher gave credit for the campaign’s success to volunteers, customers and Kangaroo Express store and district managers like Nancy Shaikh.

“Most of [Shaikh’s] stores are on [East Carolina University] campus, so much of her traffic was gone for the summer,” Fisher said. “But Nancy wanted so badly to make sure her stores did their part, when the convoy came through, she and her entire team literally stood out in the street and waived people into the store. They raised $2,000 that day for Salute Our Troops. We couldn't have done it without people like Nancy. She is Kangaroo Express. She is Salute Our Troops.”

The 2011 version of Salute Our Troops was one of the largest grassroots fundraising initiatives the USO had participated in.

“Kangaroo Express, its team and guests vowed to do more for troops and families in 2012 than they did in 2011 and once again, they delivered,” USO Director of Corporate Alliances Katie Whitlow said. “Their generous donation will help support the USO programs and services our troops and their families have told us they need most: comforts of home, free phone calls to their loved ones, more opportunities to read bedtime stories to their children and critical support for wounded, ill and injured troops and their caregivers and families of the fallen.”

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Federal employees can help the USO fulfill its mission to support troops and their families though the 2012 Combined Federal Campaign. Please designate #11381. 

Photo credit: Tom Fuldner 

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