May 20, 2016
THIS IS A STORY of how a conversation and something as simple as friends meeting for coffee turned into something big and memorable – namely, Verlo’s Pay It Forward Memorial Day Sale that is helping military families. Actually, it’s benefitting the children our fallen soldiers have left behind through a donation to Camp Hometown Heroes.
But I’m getting ahead of myself. Let me start at the beginning.
Mary Plemons, Verlo’s vice president of operations, was chatting with our CEO Chris Nolte about how her husband Jack gets together with a group of veterans (many from World War II) for coffee every Thursday morning at a local restaurant. Jack, who isn’t a veteran, likes to shoot the breeze with the “guys” and provide them with technical support for their electronics. As a retired IT professional and one of the “youngsters” in the group, Jack is ideally suited to help them with their computers and cell phones. (He tells a great story about teaching them how to text.)
Anyway, Mary was telling Chris about the incredible stories these veterans had from their time in the military. This led to Mary and Chris discussing how those stories should be documented and shared – when a marketing light bulb went off: “Hey, we should film those guys and share their stories in honor of Memorial Day!”
So, Mary asked Jack to inquire if some of the veterans would be willing to be filmed while talking about their experiences. Six of them, being brave soldiers, agreed to participate and soon our chief marketing executive Scott Baitinger was trotting off with a film crew to interview them at our new mattress store in Wauwatosa, WI.
The stories they told are amazing, and each vet was so endearing. We are sharing their stories one at a time on Facebook over a two-week period, in conjunction with a Memorial Day Mattress Sale. (Watch their stories now.)
But the story continues.
We didn’t feel doing this was enough. We wanted to do more. So, instead of spending thousands of dollars on TV and radio advertising, we decided to use our freed-up marketing budget for something more important, like donating to a military charitable organization. But we didn’t know which one.
After doing some research, we discovered Camp Hometown Heroes, which is a weeklong overnight summer camp for children who have lost a loved one serving in the military. This special camp gives kids a chance to hang out with other kids who have been through the same traumatic experience. It also provides them with an opportunity to openly discuss their feelings with pediatric grief counselors and each other.
Once we found Camp Hometown Heroes, we knew where we wanted our donation to go.
So that’s the story of how two co-workers talking about a bunch of guys meeting for coffee turned into something we’re proud of: Verlo’s Pay It Forward Memorial Day Sale.
Here’s how it works:
For every mattress sold during our Pay It Forward Memorial Day Sale, Verlo will donate a portion of the proceeds to Camp Hometown Heroes. We’re also donating $1 for every Like and Share for the veteran stories we post on Facebook. And, we have coupons to make it less expensive for you to buy a mattress and help support military families. (Click here to get your coupons.)
Our goal is to donate $20,000 so we can send 20 kids to camp. To date, we’re at $10,567. With your help, we will meet – or surpass – that goal.
In the meantime, click here to watch the six veterans’ stories and check on our donation progress.
Postscript: After we documented the stories of our veterans, we met up with them again to show them their videos. Watch to see their reactions.