He might not come right out and say it, but Winn-Dixie executive Drew Elkins wouldn’t mind taking a big bite out of his competitors’ profits this Fourth of July.
That’s because the regional vice president with the grocery chain, which has four stores in Columbus and one in Phenix City, is hoping shoppers will stop in Saturday and spend some money for a great cause — the Wounded Warrior Project.
Winn-Dixie said Wednesday it will donate every penny of profit from sales that day at its more than 520 stores in Georgia, Alabama, Florida, Louisiana and Mississippi. The chain’s parent company, Jacksonville, Fla.-based Southeast Grocers, said its BI-LO and Harveys locations also are participating in the fund-raiser.
“We’ve been supporting Wounded Warrior since 2010, but nothing to this magnitude,” Elkins said Thursday when asked if the supermarket firm had ever taken part in such an event in which it chips in every last cent of profit from a particular day.
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“It’s really exciting to be part of a company that’s willing to do this and give back to our country and this great organization,” said Elkins, who oversees 78 stores in his region, including most of Alabama, the Florida Panhandle, the Columbus market and down to Valdosta, Ga.
Aside from shopping at Winn-Dixie Saturday for their hamburger, hotdogs, steaks and all of the fixings — knowing a portion of their bill is going to the Wounded Warrior Project — consumers also can make donations of their own to the organization while checking out at stores any day through Sunday.
The Wounded Warrior Project, also based in Jacksonville, was launched in 2003 as a way to maintain public awareness surrounding the physical and emotional sacrifice by the nation’s military personnel in the aftermath of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks that led to long, grueling wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Southeast Grocers and Winn-Dixie are specifically targeting their support toward Wounded Warrior’s “Independence Program.” That initiative is geared specifically toward those veterans “who rely on their families and/or caregivers because of moderate-to-severe brain injury, spinal-cord injury, or other neurological conditions,” according to the program’s website.
The Wounded Warrior Project says the fairly new Independence Program will have assisted 1,050 military people by the year 2017. Those needing help may have cognitive or physical medical conditions that limit their access to various resources in the towns or cities in which they reside.
The Wounded Warrior Project also says that it has served nearly 72,000 military veterans overall since its founding and about 11,500 more family members or caregivers. That includes those suffering from combat wounds, traumatic brain injuries and post-traumatic stress disorder. Those numbers are as of June 1.
The motto of the Wounded Warrior Project is, “The greatest casualty is being forgotten.”
Elkins at Winn-Dixie is hoping for a major impact from the grocer’s Fourth of July effort to fork over as much profit as possible for such a critical cause. He said Saturdays are usually one of the chain’s busiest shopping days and that July 4 always is a strong day for the company.
“The more that customers shop with us, the more they can donate,” he said.
The Columbus supermarkets are located at 6770 Veterans Parkway, 4231 Macon Road, 5750 Milgen Road and 1100 Hunt Ave. The Phenix City store is at 3952 U.S. Hwy. 80. There also are two Winn-Dixie stores in Auburn and Opelika, Ala.
The fund-raising effort certainly hits close to home. A 2013 study prepared by research company Westat shows the largest portion of Wounded Warrior Project assistance has gone to veterans, or “alumni,” in the South at 48 percent, followed by 24 percent of those living in the West, jut over 14 percent in the Northeast and more than 13 percent in the Midwest. Among the Top 10 states, Georgia ranks No. 7.