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Terry McGowan, Director of Quality Assurance at Giant Landover, discusses the many programs the grocer has in place to support the U.S. military.
Ahold’s Maryland-based Giant Landover banner supports the nation’s military as a key service to the community, as demonstrated by the slate of programs designed to aid U.S. service members.
“Supporting our nation’s military men and women and their families is one of our core community engagement areas for Giant,” said Terry McGowan, director of quality assurance and a 25-year veteran of the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve. His reserve career has followed a supermarket career spanning Philadelphia to Fort Worth, and now the Baltimore-Washington area. He has completed tours in Iraq and Afghanistan during the past 10 years, and is currently a master sergeant and platoon commander in a Wilmington, Del., reserve unit.
“Service members and their families are obviously a unique and valued part of the fabric of our region,” McGowan affirms. “We have a lot of military in this area, between Baltimore and Washington, D.C., so it’s a big part of our business.”
Statement of Support
McGowan mentions an event last year in which Giant revealed an aggressive military hiring initiative and signed an official statement of Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve (ESGR), a Department of Defense agency that develops and promotes support for guard and reserve service.
“Last year, we also participated in some job fairs throughout the region, including a large one at the M&T bank stadium — home of one of our partners, the Baltimore Ravens,” McGowan says. “Another such event took place at the Washington, D.C., armory shortly after. We have hired 24 veterans since the beginning of this initiative.”
Giant-Landover has also maintained a strong partnership with the USO of Metropolitan Washington and Baltimore, along with the USO of Delaware, according to McGowan.
Of the company’s annual USO giving campaign, McGowan notes: “This year, we collected monetary donations from thousands of our patriotic customers, who bought 17,000 snack-pack care packages — a small box of different snacks, hand sanitizer, etc. — and through customers’ generous support, the USO received a $100,000 donation and the 17,000 care packages were donated to deployed service men and women.
“From my personal experience of being deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan over the past 10 years as a reserve member, I can speak to the tremendous impact that those care packages have when you’re deployed,” he adds.
Serving the Nation’s Capital
Given the grocer’s proximity to the nation’s capital, Giant’s commitment to military members certainly has an impact on the local community. “There are 15,000 major military installations in our operating area, so more than 10 percent of our country’s military force is actually based in the Washington metropolitan region,” McGowan observes, adding that every branch of service maintains a major installation within the chain’s store footprint, including Dover Air Force Base, in Delaware, on the northern end, and the Marine Corps, based in Quantico, Va., to the south.
“The individuals who serve in those bases are our neighbors, our friends, our family members and, in many cases, spouses, so, it’s one of the reasons I’m proud of the work that we do supporting military families,” he says.
“I tell this story many times, when — back in November 2011 — I had just been with Giant for about a month,” recounts McGowan, “and they published a list of all the contributions the company made within the past year. I remember being amazed at the amount of programs we were involved with,” he concludes, citing the following among the most noteworthy:
- $2 million raised and donated through A+ School Rewards program, which benefits more than 2,000 schools in the company’s operating area
- Triple Winner, which raises millions of dollars for adult and pediatric cancer research
- 1 million pounds of food donated to hunger relief organizations, plus an additional 5,000 turkeys given to regional food bank partners around Thanksgiving Partnerships with such organizations as Toys for Tots Foundation and the Salvation Army
There is no shortage of ways for customers to get involved in Giant’s support programs, the most substantial of which is the effort with the USO to send service members care packages — 17,000 of which have been purchased so far by customers.
Reflecting on the ways in which he aspires to live up to Ahold USA’s Better Neighbor promise, McGowan says: “I’m involved in many of Giant’s responsible retailing initiatives,” including plastic, cardboard and organic recycling programs, as well as a new campaign to eliminate 1 billion bags from the company’s operations by the end of 2015. McGowan has also worked to launch Giant’s Meat the Needs meat donation program, in which meat that hasn’t been purchased by its sell-by date is frozen, stored and donated to local food bank partners.
Of all of those activities in which he takes part, however, “I’m probably most proud of being a member of the board of directors for the Children’s Cancer Foundation, which raises funds for children’s cancer research and different support organizations,” he concludes, adding that Giant is the corporate sponsor of the Children’s Cancer Foundation’s annual gala.
“It’s a great organization, we’re their biggest benefactor, and we’ve been a partner for over 30 years,” he says of the foundation. “It’s been the core of our operation.”