How the USO and Harris Teeter’s Partnership Impacted a Service Member-Turned-Harris Teeter Employee

By USO Staff

The USO and Harris Teeter have fostered a partnership for years, taking great pride in serving our nation’s service members and their families hand-in-hand. This support has had an impact on military communities nationwide, as well as on an individual level. For Christian Emory, a current Harris Teeter employee, this is evident in her own experiences, as she has been positively impacted by the USO and Harris Teeter all her life – first as a military brat, then as a service member and now as a Harris Teeter employee.

Christian and her family first benefited from the USO’s support during her father’s 20-plus-year career in the U.S. Army. Then, as a teenager, Christian worked as a cashier for Harris Teeter, which is where she first learned about the grocery chain’s annual point-of-sale fundraising campaign for the USO.

Later, while in college, Christian interned with Harris Teeter’s corporate office while majoring in music. A flute professor told her about the wonderful opportunities available to musicians as military band members, and so she auditioned for the National Guard Band out of Raleigh, North Carolina, and made the cut. Christian enlisted, completed basic training and served six years in the National Guard with the 440th Army Band.

Photo credit Courtesy Photo

The USO first impacted Christian’s life during her father’s two decade career in the Army.

“We performed all over the state of North Carolina. We would perform at the state fair, military balls, change of command ceremonies, retirement ceremonies and other events,” Christian said.

She also went to Botswana for three weeks to perform throughout the country with the Botswana Defense Force Band. She also played at events with the USO band, on occasion.

“I always remember them performing at our holiday parties, and it’s so fun to see the kids light up with excitement during their performance. It just brings everyone together,” she said.

During basic training and throughout her many travels as an Army band member, the USO was there for Christian.

“When I was on orders for long periods of time, most of the bases we visited had USO centers that we would frequent after duty hours,” Christian recollected. “Having a place to unwind with other members of my unit was always a highlight of extended orders. We would go to a USO center and order pizza, watch movies and play games. It was nice to have a place to go that felt like home while away for training.”

Photo credit Courtesy Photo

During her six years in the National Guard, Christian performed with the 446th Army Band as well as the USO band.

Today, Christian is the director of benefits and compensation at Harris Teeter and a regular donor to the USO. Now that she is a veteran, Christian helps create those opportunities for other service members as a monthly donor to the USO as part of Harris Teeter’s Community Cares Campaign, which allows Harris Teeter associates to elect one or more nonprofits to support through paycheck deductions.

“Of course, I elected to give to the USO,” Christian said. “Military service has a special place in my heart, and the USO provides so much support and resources to service members. Whether they are providing an area they can visit while on orders to relax, providing entertainment, or providing resources to reach loved ones while deployed, the USO is an amazing organization that truly makes a difference in the lives of service members.”

As a veteran and Harris Teeter employee, Christian can now give back to the same organizations that impacted her military family as a child. | Photo credit Courtesy Photo

Harris Teeter also supports the USO with the help of its customers. The grocery chain’s Support Our Troops Round Up Campaign completed its 11th year in 2022, with close to $1.4 million raised in 2022 alone. Through this campaign, Harris Teeter associates invite customers to round up their transaction total to the nearest dollar at checkout to support service members and their families through the USO.

With more than $12.5 million dollars raised since this annual campaign began in 2012, it is the USO’s most successful point-of-sale campaign to-date. Almost 3 million Harris Teeter shoppers donate to the campaign each year across nearly 260 stores, and 100% of funds donated remain in the region where it was collected to promote critical USO programs within shoppers’ local military communities.

Danna Robinson, director of corporate affairs for Harris Teeter, credits the success of Harris Teeter’s Support Our Troops Round Up campaign as a direct reflection of the generosity of their valued associates and loyal shoppers.

“Harris Teeter’s Round Up campaign is a tremendous success and allows partners like the USO to fund their critical missions by providing much-needed resources, programs and support for military service members and their families,” she said.

“Thanks to the support our valued associates making the ask at checkout, and wonderful partners like USO, Harris Teeter is able to steward millions of dollars each year into the communities it serves.”

“The long-term partnership between the USO and Harris Teeter is a treasured relationship that began with Harris Teeter employees who were also USO volunteers,” said Kathy Bull of the USO, who has managed the nonprofit’s relationship with Harris Teeter for nearly 10 years.

“This campaign has grown to be something that shoppers look forward to being a part of, as well as the volunteers and staff of the USO. Harris Teeter is not just a Force Behind the Forces®. They are a force multiplier, and we are grateful for them and proud to be their partner.”

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