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    The Pantry’s Salute Our Troops Campaign Tops $2M

    The c-store chain will donate the largest portion, $1.35 million, to the national USO.

    CARY, N.C. -- Labor Day not only brought the official end to summer, but it also brought The Pantry Inc.'s "Salute Our Troops" fundraising campaign to a close. And the final tallies define the campaign as a successful one.

    The locally based convenience store operator and its 1,600 Kangaroo Express stores raised $2.5 million for military-related charities. The total came in well above the company's original $1 million goal, which it blew past over the July 4 weekend, according to the Fayetteville Observer. The annual fundraising campaign kicked off Memorial Day.

    As part of the campaign, Kangaroo Express employees asked customers to add $1 to their purchase or donate their change. The effort also featured a multi-state Salute Our Troops Jeep Tour.

    John Fisher, The Pantry's vice president of marketing, said the company's stores far exceeded expectations. He attributed that to employees' strong ties to the military. One-third of workers at Kangaroo Express stores have a connection to the military, he explained, and more than 850 stores are less than 20 miles from a military installation.

    "I think it just resonated with them personally," Fisher said. "They are our customers." The Pantry will divide the $2.5 million between several charities, the news outlet reported. The breakdown includes:

    • $1.35 million to the national USO.
    • $584,000 to the Wounded Warrior Project.
    • $144,000 to the USO of North Carolina.
    • $62,000 to the North Carolina National Guard Soldiers and Airmen Assistance Fund.
    • $119,000 to the South Carolina Military Family Care Association.
    • $159,000 to the Florida National Guard Foundation.
    • $32,000 to the Georgia National Guard Family Support Foundation.
    • $46,000 to the Enlisted Association of the National Guard of Tennessee Soldier Relief Fund.

    A company spokeswoman told the newspaper that the donation to the USO was one of the largest ever from a single fundraising campaign.

    "Kangaroo Express exemplifies what makes North Carolina a special place -- neighbors helping neighbors," said John Falkenbury, president of the USO of North Carolina. "Their gift to USO of N.C. is the largest single fundraising campaign donation we have received during my tenure and will make a significant impact on our ability to sustain our programs and services, [which] last year served over 330,000 service members and their families. They have set a standard for others to emulate."

    The Pantry is celebrating its successful campaign with a free event tomorrow at Cary, N.C.'s Koka Booth Amphitheatre between 2 and 5 p.m. Current and former military families are invited to attend. The Salute Our Troops grand finale will be emceed by the "voice of the Blue Devils" Bob Harris and will include skydivers, a rappelling demonstration and musical entertainment.


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