Strack and Van Til, Ultra Foods, and Town and Country Market are helping to make the coming holidays brighter for military families. They recently gave a generous donation of $32,379.89 to Snowball Express, a nonprofit organization that serves military families who have lost a loved one in the line of duty.
Snowball Express started in 2006 and has since helped thousands of children of fallen military heroes create wonderful memories and make lifelong friends all over the country at the happiest place on Earth, Disneyland.
“It started when the last letter from a fallen soldier to his wife was printed in a newspaper in Southern California,” Francis "Buck" Kern, executive director of Snowball Express said. “In the letter the soldier asked his wife to keep their promise of taking their children to Disney World. Some kind people in Southern California thought, ‘Well, we don’t have Disney World, but we have Disneyland so we can keep this promise to these kids.’”
They kept their promise and then found that there were more children who lost parents in the line of duty. Several hundred family members gathered the first year and went to Disneyland. The second year American Airlines got involved and now the airline company supplies all of the charter flights each year for Snowball Express. The nonprofit has reached beyond California and now serves children of fallen heroes from all over the United States.
During the month of January, all Strack and Van Til, Ultra Foods, and Town and Country Market locations participated in a pin-up campaign where donations were collected for the Snowball Express. Strack and Van Til helps many charitable organizations and this one stood out specifically for President and CEO of Strack & Van Til LLC, Ken Diehl.
“I’ve known about Snowball Express for the last 10 years,” Diehl said. “I think it’s a very worthwhile cause that our communities should know about and as a Navy veteran myself, this really hits home for me. There is nothing greater than these heroes and their kids and my heart genuinely goes out to them. I’m proud to be able to serve these children and their families.”
Snowball Express takes children to Disneyland each December, as that month is more emotionally taxing for military families who lost someone than other months due to the holidays. With each trip brings great activities and events for the kids as well as their parents. They get a sendoff befit of royalty and are treated as such for the remainder of their time at Disneyland.
“The Snowball Express is not very well known in our area yet,” Ashleigh Marlow PR/Centralized Orientation Specialist for Strack and Van Til said. “But we wanted to raise awareness of this great organization and the communities really responded to it. It’s because of our customers’ generosity we were able to make this happen.”
To find out more about the Snowball Express visit http://snowballexpress.org/. Check out this video to get a feel of what Snowball Express does for children across the country.