By Johnny Jackson
Officials are reporting that the Kangaroo Express summer-long "Salute Our Troops Jeep Tour," benefiting military personnel, has achieved its fund-raising goal of $1 million. Regardless, they say, the effort will continue through Labor Day.
The fund-raising campaign is the work of Kangaroo Express, part of the convenience store chain operated by the Cary, N.C.-based company The Pantry, Inc. It is designed to help raise awareness and donations for military charitable organizations, according to Largemouth Communications Account Coordinator Anthony Baldinelli, speaking for Kangaroo Express.
Baldinelli said donations directly benefit the non-profit United Service Organizations (USO), Wounded Warrior Project and state-based family support programs.
The "Salute Our Troops" campaign is traveling throughout the Southeast in a restored World War II Jeep to raise funds in support of the USO, Wounded Warrior Project and National Guard. Baldinelli said the USO Jeep Crew Team highlights local military heroes and gives them a chance to ride around in a fully-restored 1952 Willy's CJ-3 Jeep from the World War II era.
The USO Jeep Crew is making stops at Kangaroo Express convenience stores and other locations along its way through the region, while spotlighting local military heroes or those who have positively impacted the lives of service members.
Those spotlighted individuals will have the opportunity to ride along in the vintage jeep, as a co-pilot for the day, added Baldinelli. He noted the tour, lasting from Memorial Day to Labor Day, is scheduled to pass through the Henry County area on Aug. 21-22.
"When you see the Salute Our Troops Jeep outside one of our Kangaroo Express convenience stores, you know the light is shining on a true local hero," said John Fisher, senior vice president of The Pantry. "It's our way of saying thanks to the men and women who serve our country and show support to their families who hold down the fort back home."
More than 1,600 Kangaroo Express convenience stores will be participating in the "Salute Our Troops" campaign asking store guests to make $1 donations as part of their USO-support canister promotion.
"Kangaroo Express and USO have something in common: we both like to offer service with a smile," said USO President Sloan Gibson, in a news release. "We're especially thankful to our friends at The Pantry for creating this summer-long campaign to support our service members and their families."
Baldinelli said area residents can keep track of the Jeep Tour through the Kangaroo Express "Salute Our Troops" web site, the Kangaroo Express Facebook page, and the USO Jeep Crew's Twitter account (#kesalute). They are invited to make donations, suggest heroes to spotlight, or send messages to the military heroes in their lives, and in their communities, by posting photos and videos on the web site at www.KESalute.com.