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KANSAS CITY, Kan. - Price Chopper, a 42-store banner of Associated Wholesale Grocers, is reporting tremendous response to its 'KC's Heroes' program to send "comfort items" items to troops from the Kansas City metro area who are serving in Iraq. As Price Chopper matches all donations item for item, the more than two tons of items so far collected translates to over four tons total.
The program had a "cool" genesis, according to Price Chopper sales manager Charles Lynn, who described how Liz Dersal walked into her local Price Chopper store and asked for the grocer's participation in a program to send items to her son, who is an army officer in Iraq, and his fellow soldiers. About six months later, in October of this year, Dersal's dream became a reality with the launch of the "KC's Heroes" initiative, which runs until the end of 2005.
To enter soldiers in the program, customers complete a short information form that Price Chopper affixes to a photo of a particular soldier and posts in local stores, as well as a military mailing address, which the company keeps confidential. Lynn describes the posted photos and information of servicemen and -women as a great way to "keep them in our hearts, minds, and prayers."
Items designated for contribution are identified with KCH shelf talkers throughout the stores and include such items as toothbrushes and toothpaste; shampoo and conditioner; sunscreen; hand lotion; lip balm; cotton swabs; crossword puzzles; books; disposable cameras; sunglasses; individually wrapped, nonperishable snacks; and shoe polish. Items were chosen based on the recommendation of military and USO officials. Boxes also feature Kansas City Chiefs memorabilia, including player cards signed by Priest Holmes, the NFL's leading rusher and scorer.
According to the company, Price Chopper customers have donated thousands of individual items to the program, and, depending on the location of the store, the number of honored troops ranges from a handful to dozens. Area companies have gotten into the act, as well, among them Liberty Tax Service Co., a contingent of whose employees last month descended on the Price Chopper at 78th Street and State Ave. in Kansas City, Kan. to buy and contribute goods for the troops.
Donated items are piling up in store collection bins and storage units at such a rate that "we need to get them out," Lynn admitted, making the scheduled shipments next week or the week after all the more necessary. Price Chopper is underwriting all packaging and shipping costs. Since the items will take about eight days to arrive, soldiers should be receiving them in time for the Christmas/New Year's holidays.