Giveaway promotions abound for veterans

Nov. 10, 2011 | by Alicia Kelso

According to new research from the National Restaurant Association, 75 percent of Americans say they would be more likely to choose a restaurant that participates in a charitable program that supports U.S. military personnel, veterans and their families.

Plenty of brands are taking advantage of this opportunity for Veterans Day and beyond, with promotions ranging from free food to USO fundraising campaigns.

For example, Tim Hortons Café and Bake Shop will offer a free Star Spangled Donut on Veterans Day to all inactive and active U.S. Military Veterans. No purchase is necessary, and veterans need to either be in uniform or show their military ID.

"Tim Hortons has always believed in supporting our veterans and active troops — they are some of our most important guests," said Mike Meilleur, senior vice president of U.S. operations.

Some Subway franchisees also will offer giveaways on Veterans Day. Throughout New York State, active-duty service members and military veterans who present a valid ID can receive any 6-inch sub for free.

United States Beef Corporation, Arby's largest franchisee, headquartered in Tulsa, Okla., is offering a free Roast Beef Classic Sandwich to active duty military members and veterans today at any of its 280 locations.

Papa John's has partnered up with the USO (United Service Organizations) to support military members and their families through a $1 donation for every online order on Veterans Day.

"Supporting the men and women who serve and protect our country – and their families – is a great way to say thanks, which is what November is all about," said John Schnatter, Papa John's International Inc. founder, chairman and CEO.

In addition to donating $1 for every online order, Papa John's will donate $1 to the USO for every online order of its USO Meal Deal. The USO Meal Deal consists of two large one-topping pizzas for $20.

CKE Restaurants Inc. and its Carl's Jr. and Hardee's restaurants recently raised more than $1 million for military families and veterans during the spring fundraiser that launched Stars for Troops, the chains' new charitable program.

The three-week in-store fundraising campaign kicked off in early May at Hardee's and Carl's Jr. and asked restaurant guests to donate $1 in support of military charities. For each $1 donation, guests received a commemorative "Stars for Troops" cut out to personalize and place on display in the restaurant. In addition, they received restaurant coupons valued at more than $10 to use toward future purchases.

Earlier this fall, Wendy's announced its partnership with Veterans Advantage, which provides all Veterans Advantage members special discounts throughout the year on popular menu items including hamburgers and Frostys.

"Our deep appreciation for their service fuels our commitment to hiring veterans and lending support to programs like Veterans Advantage," said Emil Brolick, president and CEO, The Wendy's Company.

Dunkin' Donuts and Baskin-Robbins' Community Foundation (DDBRCF) has donated $10,000 to the USO to benefit 10 individual centers throughout the country. Each center will receive a $1,000 grant.

USO centers receiving the $1,000 donations include USO of Hampton Roads (Va.); USO of Illinois; USO of Southern Pennsylvania and New Jersey; USO of Metro New York; Greater Jacksonville USO (Fla.); USO Boston; USO Dallas/Fort Worth; USO of Central Ohio; USO of Greater Los Angeles; and Rocky Mountain USO (Colo.).

Little Caesars is providing veterans and active military members with a free Crazy Bread order for Veterans Day.

Finally, the NRA and the Texas Restaurant Association recently launched the "Freedom is Sweet!" program in Texas. Freedom is Sweet is a fundraising campaign to support rehabilitation efforts for military veterans from all branches of service and their families. This pilot program is expected to become a nationwide initiative through the NRA and partner state restaurant associations next year.

"Military veterans have provided great service to our country, and we are proud to serve them," said Dawn Sweeney, NRA president and CEO. "As cornerstones of local communities across the nation, many restaurants are giving back to veterans, military personnel and their families by involving guests in their charitable programs on Veterans Day and beyond."

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Topics: Customer Service / Experience , Food & Beverage , Franchising & Growth , Marketing / Branding / Promotion , Operations Management

Alicia Kelso / Alicia has been a professional journalist for 15 years. Her work with, and has been featured in publications around the world, including NPR, Good Morning America, Voice of Russia radio, and Franchise Asia magazine.
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