Helping injured soldiers and their families is the mission of the Yellow Ribbon Fund, a nonprofit organization Taco John’s is supporting with a $100,000 donation.
“Having their families with them is a key part of the recovery process for these wounded service members. This donation will help fund lodging and transportation when families make extended visits,” says Rick Kammerer, a Taco John’s franchisee and chairman of the chain’s Advertising Production Committee. “This donation to the Yellow Ribbon Fund will impact thousands of soldiers and family members. It’s a great feeling to be able to help both soldiers and families heal.”
The Yellow Ribbon Fund provides rental cars to families as well as taxi vouchers. It offers free hotel rooms to visiting families and long-term access to apartments when necessary. Other support services are provided by the Yellow Ribbon Fund and its 1,300 volunteers.
“The service men and women who benefit from this donation are very grateful. They’re somewhat humbled by it, but in all fairness, we’re humbled by what they’ve done and the sacrifices they’ve made,” says Mark Robbins, executive director of the Yellow Ribbon Fund. “Their injuries are lifelong.”
Taco John’s raised money for the donation through the sale of Nachos Navidad, a seasonal menu item the fast-food chain has tied to charitable giving for 18 years. Franchisees can also use Nachos Navidad to support local charities. This year, two franchisee ownership groups, Taco John’s of Iowa Inc. and the Taco John’s restaurants owned by Clayton Hartman, decided to add their local charitable efforts to the Yellow Ribbon Fund. Each raised nearly $25,000 for the Yellow Ribbon Fund.
“Harold Holmes, the cofounder of Taco John’s, was a huge supporter of veterans’ projects. He and his wife were very involved in helping veterans,” says Todd Geatches, director of operations for the Taco John’s restaurants owned by Clayton Hartman. “When the opportunity came along to help the Yellow Ribbon Fund, we jumped at it in Harold’s honor.”
“I think it’s a great cause. Everyone knows a veteran or someone who served this country,” says Jeff Brands, CEO for Taco John’s of Iowa. “It’s something we should do. It’s something we want to do. We love to get our customers involved, helping us support different organizations.”
In addition to the cash donation, Taco John’s is also providing a 13-foot banner filled with words of support for the wounded soldiers. Taco John’s guests were invited to digitally sign or text-in a message for display on the banner. The oversized greeting card will be displayed for service members at numerous facilities, including Walter Reed National Military Medical Center.
“They appreciate the sentiment. They appreciate people thinking about them,” Robbins says. “This reminds service members that there are a lot of people who support them and appreciate everything they’ve done for us.”
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