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Safeway Inc. dedicated Veterans Day weekend to pay tribute to past and present service members and raise money for an organization that provides programs and outreach to those who were severely injured while serving their country.
From November 11 through November 13 all U.S. Safeway stores will raise funds for the Wounded Warrior Project, an organization that exists to honor and empower "wounded warriors" who incurred service-related injuries on or after September 11, 2001. The Project offers a variety of programs and services including rehabilitation, stress counseling, career retraining and social outlets. Customers were able make donations at checkstands at Safeway, Vons, Pavilions, Dominick's, Randalls, Genuardi's, Tom Thumb and Carrs stores.
"We are recognize the enormous sacrifice made by veterans, especially those who are injured while defending the freedoms we hold dear," said Larree Renda, Safeway EVP and chair of The Safeway Foundation. "With the weekend's activities, we are assisting the Wounded Warrior Project and the work they are doing for those veterans of the post-September 11 conflicts."
While the fundraising campaign was this past weekend, the company's recognition of veterans and active service members began the prior Sunday when Safeway's Tom Thumb stores in Texas joined with NASCAR Spring Cup series driver Bobby Labonte to present a donation to the Wounded Warrior Project at the Texas Motor Speedway. This week Labonte will bring his #47 car, which is currently sporting the Wounded Warrior Project logo, to a Safeway store in Phoenix. He will be joined by veteran and Wounded Warrior representative Brandon Rollins, who will talk with customers about the vital services their donations will fund.
Safeway will hold numerous other in-store events to show support for veterans. For example, in Dublin, Calif., California Congressman Jerry McNerney and other local elected officials and community leaders will help Safeway customers assemble care packages for Operation SAM (Supporting All Military), an organization that collects, packs and ships "comfort items" to active duty personnel overseas. The customers and Safeway employee volunteers will also write letters of support that will be included with the care packages. That same day at Safeway's nearby corporate headquarters, employee volunteers will also assemble care packages and write letters.
In Southern California, Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa will join Army Airborne Ranger Aron Hijar, other military veterans and local news anchors, at a Studio City Vons store for a grocery "Bagging Boot Camp" competition. The Mayor will be teamed with Hijar, whose platoon was featured in the Academy Award-nominated documentary "Restrepo."
Safeway stores throughout Washington, Montana, Idaho and Alaska will host celebrations to honor employees who are military veterans and reservists, while saluting customers who have served as well. On Friday the company's new Bothell, Wash. store celebrated its official grand opening and hosted a community-wide Veterans Day celebration.
This week's activities are just part of Safeway's outreach and commitment to people in the U.S. military. The company instituted a special career training and leadership program to prepare veterans for jobs in store management. The program recently gained Safeway recognition at a Pentagon ceremony naming the company an "Outstanding Employer" by the U.S. Navy. For its employees serving in the military reserve, Safeway covers the pay differential and extends full benefits for those who are called to active service. The Safeway Foundation also provided seed funding to the Center for Veteran's Advancement, a program of the Public Counsel Law Center, that assists veterans with a range of legal services and helps them secure the benefits they are entitled to.
Pleasanton, Calif.-based Safeway operates 1,694 stores in the United States and western Canada and had annual sales of $41.1 billion in 2010.