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Hallmark 'America Supports You' Bouquet Honors Troops

By Samantha L. Quigley
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Jan. 31, 2005 – Now when America wants to show it cares for its servicemembers, it can "care enough to send the very best."

Hallmark Flowers, a subsidiary of Hallmark Inc., has joined forces with the Defense Department's "America Supports You" program to offer a unique way to show support for servicemembers. The "America Supports You" bouquet is a Hallmark exclusive and a tangible way of showing U.S. servicemembers they are not forgotten.

The idea came about from two sources, said Carol Hallquist, Hallmark's vice president of new ventures. A Hallmark team member has a fianc stationed overseas with the military. That, coupled with Christmas cards expressing support for troops received by some of the Hallmark team members, got the new- ventures team thinking about how the company could show its support, she said.

"It really turned out to be an awesome situation, because we wanted to do something but we didn't know the vehicle or the partner to do it with," Hallquist said.

When the team discovered the America Supports You Web site and its mission to help show support for those in the armed services, it seemed like the perfect tie-in, she said. After conversations with America Supports You staff members in early December, a joint venture was born.

In response to the collaboration, an America Supports You bouquet of yellow roses, solidago and purple statice -- 17 stems in all -- was designed for sale for Valentine's Day.

"The objective was to have something that looked beautiful but was at a reasonable price," Hallquist said. "We have a $39 bouquet here that's probably got a retail value of $50 plus."

The bouquet also comes with an America Supports You dog tag -- the official emblem of the ASY program -- and a personalized greeting card. "(The dog tag) will live beyond the two weeks that the bouquet will live, to be an everlasting symbol of the support for our armed services," she said.

In addition to the sale of the bouquets, Hallmark will deliver the same bouquets with dog tags and cards to injured servicemembers at three major military medical facilities.

Servicemembers at Walter Reed Army Medical Center here; the National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda, Md.; and Brooke Army Medical Center, in Fort Sam Houston, Texas -- about 100 in-patients total -- will all receive bouquets.

To make sure Americans get an injection of inspiration to show their support for the troops, Hallmark is providing coupons for the bouquets as prizes for radio contests.

That portion of the project will put the message of America Supports You in 350 markets reached by Win/Win Radio. That means, Hallquist said, that at least 12 million listeners a day will learn of the project and the opportunity to support America's servicemembers.

Flowers, rather than another Hallmark product, were chosen because they appeal on multiple levels. "When you get them, there's the surprise factor, but also the emotional essence that shows care and thought," Hallquist said.

The bouquets can be purchased through Hallmark's Web site by clicking on the Hallmark Flowers link and then the America Supports You logo. Delivery can only be made in the United States, however.

The price for the bouquet is $39.95 plus a delivery charge. Orders must be placed by the evening of Feb. 11 to make sure they're delivered by Feb. 14, she said.

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