At the end of June, I posted Let Freedom DING!, which described a few of the FUN initiatives that Southwest Airlines had planned for the Independence Day Holiday. We've reached the end of our Share the Spirit efforts, and I thought I'd give a quick update to share the exciting results!
Operation Phone Home: We announced this program on June 28 at the 500th Aircraft DeliveryÃ¢â‚¬¦Let Freedom DING! celebration. Our goal was to raise $20,000, in order to donate pre-paid calling cards for U.S. troops through the USO. Little did we know what a huge success this program would be! On our first day of collections, we raised $5,621! We reached our $20,000 goal on July 6, and because of the enormous success of the program, we decided to extend the donation deadline until Tuesday, July 31. We have now raised a total of more than $55,000, which will purchase nearly 4,000 300-unit calling cards (a total of over one million units!) for our heroes overseas. I'd like to extend a heartfelt 'thank you' to everyone who has donated to this terrific cause.
LUV Rations: On June 28, we also kicked off LUV Rations, our Companywide supply drive for the troops. We divided the country into nine sections and assigned each Department in each Location one specific item (foot powder, razors/shaving cream; hard candy; sunscreen; wipes; soap/deodorant; crew socks; toothbrush/toothpaste/dental floss; and powdered drink mix). In addition, several of our very generous vendors donated additional items,
including playing cards, pens, note pads, envelopes, and even the boxes in which these items will be shipped (a special thanks to Catalyst Marketing, Office Depot, and Lovan Industries!). In addition to the troops' supplies, we also collected items for children in Iraq and Afghanistan...we had countless donations of stuffed animals, activity books, colored pencils, chalk, and various games and toys.
On Wednesday, August 1, we sorted and organized all of these donated items, and on Thursday, August 2, the Corporate Culture Committee packed each of the items for the troops into individual goodie bags. Each bag also contains a handwritten note from a Southwest Airlines Employee. All in all, we packed over 1,000 individual goodie bags, and over 60 boxes of items for the children in Iraq and Afghanistan! On Friday, August 3, thanks to Dallas-based Mechanic (and my personal hero), Dale Dixon; several members of the Navy Reserves came with a military truck to pickup our donations. We had around 50 Southwest Employees, including several who have served in the military, loading the boxes onto the truck. Hundreds of additional Southwest Employees wore their red T-shirts; lined the fence; waved American flags; and cheered as the truck drove the supplies back to the military base. From there, a military plane will deliver our LUV Rations to our U.S. heroes serving in the Middle East on the first available opportunity.
In my nearly seven years at Southwest, this project has been one of my hands-down favorites. I can't think of a more deserving group to support than the heroes serving our country and defending our country's Freedoms. Watching our Employees come together as one huge Team to make this effort happen makes me proud to work for such an incredible Company. Thank you, Southwest Airlines Employees, Customers, Family, and FriendsÃ¢â‚¬¦for helping us to Share the Spirit and show our LUV and support to our country's heroes.