By Delaney Walker
Tennessee Fisher House Foundation and Marine Parents received checks from J&S Restaurants through money raised during Hardee’s annual Stars for Heroes campaign.
“Marine Parents will keep families notified about where their sons, daughters and spouses ... are located during active duty. They will also send packages,” said Brenda Eckard, J&S vice president of marketing. “This year, we heard about Fisher House. Large homes are built near veterans hospitals. If a veteran or active duty soldier goes into a hospital, then their families can stay in the Fisher House.”
A total of $17,500 were awarded to the two charities with $10,000 going toward Marine Parents and $7,500 toward the Tennessee Fisher House.
“We just feel like this is a good fit for our customers. We do not have a customer who has not been affected by the military,” Eckard said. “There are just so many people out there serving in the military that we have to pay them tribute.”
Customers have the opportunity to donate a dollar with their purchases every spring. All donations come with a Hardee’s star. Cleveland Hardee’s restaurants have their walls covered in paper stars within two weeks.
All donations are counted and sent to Hardee’s Food Systems. Local franchises, like J&S, send in their charity requests. J&S received approval for their requests and were awarded more money than their restaurants raised. A grand total of $9,182.83 was raised throughout the 42 Hardees owned by J&S.
Eckard said customers were able to donate as much as they want. Coupons were given to every customer who donated a dollar or more. These coupons were for Hardee’s hottest items.
“I am happy we do this. It allows our customers to give back in a small way, while collectively it is a large fundraiser,” Eckard said.
The $7,500 will be used toward building a new Fisher House in Murfreesboro.
“The more money we can furnish, the less the Fisher House Foundation has to spend money. They have about 30 houses in line after us,” said Andrea Lawrence, president of TN FHF. “It should involve everybody because our soldiers protect everybody.”
Ed Stuteville, J&S vice president of operations, has two children who have been involved in the armed forces. He said he sees the need for soldier support.
“I think it is much better than it was during the Vietnam War. I think we have a lot of problems when it comes to PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome). They see things over there that you could never imagine. ...Then they come back and it is entirely different than what they have been seeing for the last six months to a year.”
He said there are a high number of suicides being committed by soldiers.
“This Fisher House is fantastic because it gives families the support they need if their loved ones are in the hospital,” Stuteville said. “Our customers are absolutely fantastic. ...There were some stores where the stars were double-stacked because there was not enough room for them. The community support is fantastic.”
"Holidays, birthdays & anniversaries have been celebrated with tears and smiles with people who truly understand what the other person is experiencing."
- Kamryn Jaroszewski