Florida National Guard troops will spend Christmas in the Sunshine State with their families, thanks to help provided by Florida retailers, Gov. Rick Scott announced Thursday.
Earlier this week, Scott took to Twitter to challenge major Florida retailers to help raise $35,000 to support troops returning home from deployment.
“I am proud to announce today that from the overwhelming support of our Florida retailers, we are now able to give all 300 soldiers of the Florida National Guard 3rd Artillery Battalion the opportunity to come home for Christmas,” Scott said in a statement released from his office. “Our Florida retailers have answered the call to action and have provided a priceless gift to our heroes that serve our nation every day. This time of year is about being with family, and I am glad these brave men and women get to spend Christmas with their families and loved ones.”
The soldiers will arrive at Mississippi’s Camp Shelby from Afghanistan on Christmas Eve, and will then bebused to Florida. After Christmas, they will be taken back to Camp Shelby to complete their final interview process, according to the statement.
“Were it not for the generosity of many businesses and the Governor’s office, most of the Soldiers from 3-116th would not have the ability to be with their families this Christmas,” said Maj. Gen. James Tyre, assistant adjutant general for the Florida Army National Guard. “We thank our Florida leaders, communities and businesses who rallied to bring our soldiers home when they arrive at Camp Shelby this weekend. There could be no greater homecoming for these Soldiers and their families.”
Ten Florida retailers answered Scott’s call to action, including Publix Supermarkets, the Florida Retail Federation, Walgreens, Great Bay Distributors, Food Marketers Institute Foundation, the Retail Industry Leaders Association, Badcock Home Furniture & More, Chico’s FAS, Bealls Department Stores and Walmart.
The statement included these comments from the retailers:
“The holidays are a time for family and friends and for creating special memories to last a lifetime,” Publix President Todd Jones said. “This holiday season, Publix is proud to partner with other Florida retailers to bring home the men and women who serve and protect our country and freedom every day. To our extraordinary heroes, thank you for your service and welcome home!”
“We are excited about the opportunity to bring these men and women home for the holidays,” said W.R. “Sandy” Fortin, Chairman of the Board of the Florida Retail Federation & CEO of Lakeland-based S&J Sports, dba Play It Again Sports. We appreciate the leadership of Gov. Scott in making this possible, and are very proud to support the Florida National Guard.”
“As the holiday season begins with friends and families gathering to celebrate, we wanted to express our gratitude to those who served or are currently serving our nation. We are grateful for their service, sacrifice and courage,” market vice president of central Florida Walgreens, Marlin Hutchens said. “We applaud Governor Scott for issuing this challenge as a great way to show our appreciation. We are proud to be among other Florida retailers that joined together to bring the men and women of the Florida National Guard home for the holidays.”
“Great Bay’s family ownership and its employees understand the sacrifice these troops have made in their service to our country,” Ron Petrini, CEO, Great Bay Distributors said. “It is only fitting they get home to their loved ones as soon as possible. We hope this can allow some families to have an extra special gift Christmas Day. Being located in the late Representative Young’s district, we feel this is a fitting way of honoring his commitment to the Armed Forces, as well as giving in honor of the veterans who currently work at Great Bay. From our families to the families of these troops, we hope they have a merry Christmas.”
“Our service men and women and their families make sacrifices for us every day,” president of Retail Industry Leaders Association, Sandy Kennedy said. “We are honored to join Governor Scott and local leaders to give back by ensuring that members of the Florida National Guard make it home in time to spend the holidays with their families.”
“W.S. Badcock is delighted to be a part of Governor Rick Scott’s mission to bring home the 178 National Guard soldiers stationed in Afghanistan, home to Florida for the Christmas holiday,” said Wogan S. Badcock, III, Chairman of the Board and Executive Vice President of Public affairs of Badcock Home Furniture & more. “It is an honor to be a part of bringing such special Christmas joy to all of those families, and to give thanks to our service men and women who have served to protect us.”
“Chico’s FAS, Inc. is proud to support the men and women who serve our country,” David Dyer, President and CEO,Chico’s FAS, Inc. said. “We’re happy to help bring them home to spend time with family and friends this holiday season.”
“The entire Bealls family of associates is grateful for the service of our men and women in uniform around the world. We are humbled by the sacrifices they make for us each and every day.” Dan Doyle, Chief Human Resources Officer, Bealls, Inc. said. “We are truly honored to help reunite them with their families this Christmas.”
“The holidays are a very special time of year, and at Walmart we recognize the importance of the season for many Americans.” Monesia Brown, Director of Public Affairs of Walmart Stores, Inc., said. “That is why we are glad to be participating in this effort to bring our servicemen and women home to their families for the holidays.”
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