America Supports You: Sears Helps Show Troops USA Cares
By Samantha L. Quigley
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Dec. 7, 2006 Holiday shoppers turning to the Internet to avoid the mall crowds have an easy way to support servicemembers and their families this year thanks to a partnership between Sears Holdings Corporation and “USA Cares.”
USA Cares is a Defense Department program highlighting ways Americans and the corporate sector support the nation’s military. Sears Holdings is the parent company of Sears and Kmart department stores.
“Sears has a longstanding commitment with the military, and we feel privileged to assist the troops and their families through this initiative,” Brenda Storch, a Sears Holdings spokeswoman, said. “We wanted to partner with a respected organization that would help us to ensure that military families are remembered this holiday season.”
Sears officials found what they were looking for in USA Cares, which provides assistance to members of the armed forces and their families who have unmet needs because of death, injury, physical or mental impairment, or financial hardship.
Through the partnership, Sears customers can visit a special Web site, www.readysetholiday.com, established for the holiday season. “It seemed as though it would be a good way to involve our customers in helping military families through the holidays,” Storch said.
The Web site provides a wish list of items that can be purchased and shipped directly to USA Cares, Roger Stradley, one of the group’s founders and director of operations, said. Once all of the purchases are received at USA Cares’ Radcliff, Ky., office, they’ll be sorted and sent to areas where they’ll do the most good. For instance, a lot of the cold-weather clothing will go to Alaska.
The gifts range in price from about $9 to a couple hundred dollars and include clothes and household items. Gift cards also may be purchased in lieu of a gift.
“USA Cares does not get any cash,” Stradley said. “We’re just coordinating and helping facilitate (for) hopefully thousands of Americans that want to just say thanks to a guy or a gal who’s wearing the uniform or their family.”
Sears Holdings kicked the program off with a donation of $10,000 in gift cards when the program started Nov 26. Since then, USA Cares has received a couple of boxes a day. “It’s kind of like Christmas,” Stradley said. “We pop it open to see what came.”
It doesn’t matter to the folks at USA Cares which item donors choose to show their support of the military community.
“I want whatever that person’s heart is moved to send,” he said. “Obviously gift cards make it a little easier, especially if your heart is that you want to help a (Guardsman) or reservist who might not be near a major installation.”
The site will remain active through Christmas Day. USA Cares staff and volunteers will tackle distributing the items after the first of the year, Stradley said.