Woodville, Florida -July 13, 2012
The "Salute Our Troops" caravan rolled into Woodville in the middle of its four month, multi-state campaign. It's sweeping the Southeast, raising money for charities like the U.S.O and Wounded Warrior Project. Last year, it raised $2.5 million dollars.
"I think it's really awesome that they're out here doing this," says Ryan Carden, who came out to this year's event.
Convenience store chain, Kangaroo Express, launched 'Salute Our Troops' in 2011. The caravan rolls into various Kangaroo Expresses with its American Flags, Frisbees and patriotic motorcycles, and encourages customers to donate cash or give a 'shout out' video message to the troops overseas. But the caravan is not just about raising money, it's about raising spirits.
"This means the world to me," says Staff Sergeant Tommy Reiman.
Staff Sergeant Tommy Reiman fought in Iraq in 2003. Reiman is a Sliver Star and Purple Heart recipient. He's been a part of 'Salute Our Troops' since the beginning.
"Having everyone come out here means we have support and Kangaroo represents the community. It's a community store and when people come out here and give their donations, shout-outs, write postcards to the troops, it just means the world to me," says Reiman.
For other veterans, seeing the caravan roll in gives them a sense of pride.
"It means something because of the fact of all that we've gone through, all the criticism in the world concerning the soldiers and some of the bad activities of some soldiers, we still see hope in the faces of the people here," says Vietnam Veteran Russell Myrick .
Kangaroo Express says it started the campaign because of the strong the military ties many of its employees have. According to the company, more than a third of its employees and employees of the Pantry have either served in the military or have a family member who does.
The caravan is heading off to Pensacola next. Followed by stops in Alabama and Mississippi.
So far, Kangaroo Express says it's raised over $800,000 dollars this year for its various charities.