CSD: Turkey Hill Supports Its Hometown Heroes

Sep 08, 2009

By Erin Rigik

a special arrangement, presented here for discussion is a summary of an
article from Convenience Store Decisions magazine.

While the recession
rages on at home and many Americans are struggling to make ends meet, far
too many people have forgotten the work our brave men and women are doing
overseas. So, Turkey Hill rallied its own troops to send them a message:
You are not forgotten.

In July, the
Pennsylvania-based operator of Turkey Hill Dairy and Turkey Hill Minit
Markets instituted a month-long program called Operation Hometown Hello
to support local troops serving in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Through the
program all Turkey Hill Minit Markets in Pennsylvania collected tangible
donations for the Pennsylvania National Guard Troops from July 1 to July
31. Each store set up a box where customers could place donations, such
as packs of gum or bags of peanuts, that they purchased at the store or
brought from home.

“We decided
on July for Operation Hometown Hello because of the July 4th holiday,” said
Erin Dimitriou Smith, public relations manager for Turkey Hill, which operates
247 c-stores in Pennsylvania and one in Indiana. “We wanted to thank the
troops for all that they do for us each and every day in protecting us
and fighting for our freedom, and we thought that by collecting some items
and sending them to our Pennsylvania troops, we might brighten their day.
There are currently 6,000 Pennsylvania National Guard Troops deployed overseas.”

The idea for
the program came from the local postal service. “We decided it would be
an excellent way to help the community and the troops and give them a little
bit of a hometown feel, which is why we called it Operation Hometown Hello,” Ms.
Smith said. “We are thrilled with the response we’ve gotten from our customers.
They love the opportunity to make a difference for the troops and hopefully
put a smile on their faces.”

Turkey Hill
Dairy drivers that deliver milk and other products to the stores are collecting
the boxes and transporting them to the post office, for shipment overseas.

Customers were
able to donate almost any item they wished, save for items that can melt,
such as chocolate or ice cream. A top 10 list of the most requested items
was available to help customers know what to donate. The troops’ most requested
items included single-serve packages of peanuts and sunflower seeds, beef
jerky, gum, pens and pencils, Combos and pretzels.

The goal of
the program was to fill 247 boxes by the end of July, one for every Pennsylvania
store. At presstime, the program had already brought in 750 pounds
(75 boxes) of donated items from toiletries to candy and magazines. Turkey
Hill paid for all shipping costs.

Questions: Should more retailers be coming up with donation programs
supporting the U.S. military? How effective from a public standing are
these types of programs compared to others supporting causes such as
breast cancer research, Special Olympics, etc.?

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10 Comments on "CSD: Turkey Hill Supports Its Hometown Heroes"

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Marge Laney
11 years 8 months ago

Anything we can do to show support for the brave men and women who serve our country and protect our freedom is worthwhile. I think any retailer that can put together a well executed program should do so. It not only helps the cause and gets convenience items to our troops that they would not otherwise have, but it ingratiates the retailer in the eyes of their customers.

As far as relative effectiveness of the different programs is concerned, I think each retailer and customer will support the program that resonates with them only.

David Livingston
11 years 8 months ago

Usually you want to design your cause to the local demographics. If there are military bases nearby then you support the military. If there is a heavy majority of women nearby then you support women’s causes. Still they have to be meaningful. Gum and peanuts for our soldiers? Seems kind of petty and insulting. I think they could better.

Perhaps it’s better to help support one local soldier’s family rather than send a million soldiers a stick of gum. I’m all for these programs as long as they are not watered down.

Steve Montgomery
11 years 8 months ago

As a Vietnam-era veteran, I know that there are varying degrees of support for this country’s military actions. However, I think we all should be thankful to those who serve. That being said there will those that can not separate the two (the conflict and those who serve in it). Because of this (unlike most causes), those designed to support the troops will have some negative reaction in the marketplace.

In markets where there is a strong military presence there will be a stronger positive reaction than those that don’t. I believe that is natural–as with all cause-related marketing, the effectiveness varies but is always strongest with the community of interest that has been impacted by it, whatever “it” is.

11 years 8 months ago

Although the troops probably love the goodies, I think it is the thought that matters most to those serving this great nation. To know that the American people still honor, trust, and support them–even with a pack of gum–is the more important issue here. In these highly political times, troops are often forgotten amongst all the rambling between politicians. It is great to see companies support them in ALL cities across the USA.

Signed, a former Marine and spouse of a Retired Marine who served in Iraq three times.

Mel Kleiman
11 years 8 months ago

It isn’t always about an economic return. I think the numbers speak for themselves. They were looking for one box of goods per store and they came away with three. The success speaks for itself.

W. Frank Dell II
11 years 8 months ago

This type of local targeted effort works well in every market. Supporting the military would not be my first choice in certain liberal markets, but Pennsylvania–known for guns and bibles–is a good choice. Further, they made it specific to the Penn National Guard, not just the military. The families will remember the effort and support the retailer for years to come.

IGA does an excellent job supporting local charities and causes. This clearly has made them a key retailer in many communities.

Paula Rosenblum
11 years 8 months ago

In the insanely partisan environment we live in, “supporting the troops” is a very safe bet. It shows those who oppose war do not oppose those who fight it, and it reinforces that those who support and encourage the battles we’re in also appreciate the troops who participate.

It’s a very safe promotional bet and will generate good will all around.

John Boccuzzi, Jr.
John Boccuzzi, Jr.
11 years 8 months ago
We have the freedom to do what we do each day thanks to the brave Men and Women of the armed forces. It is tough to meet someone in America that does not have a relative or friend involved in one or more theaters of war around the world today. I commend Turkey Hill for running this program and encourage others to do the same. Creating a worthwhile event to help the troops should not only be looked at for the positive image it brings to your retail store and brand, but more importantly because it is the right thing to do. I find myself in the airport several times each month for business and it is tough not to pass at least one person in uniform while making my way to the gate. As I pass, I am always sure to look them in the eyes and say “thank you.” Something so simple can mean so much. On your next business trip try it and see if you don’t get goose bumps when you… Read more »
Justin Time
11 years 8 months ago

For several years, Great A&P has co-sponsored Operation Shoebox, which supports hometown heroes, as well, providing them with personal, comfort items, which are useful during deployment.

The program has been highly successful, and illustrates how companies and their customers gladly support our troops overseas.

Sandy Miller
Sandy Miller
11 years 8 months ago

This is not a “either or” issue, it’s a “both and ” issue. The point is, this is a superb program that more people should support.


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