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Summer fundraiser to benefit USO
$1 million goal surpassed
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Jack McCoy sits in a refurbished 1952 Willys CJ-3 Jeep that was in Gainesville Sunday as part of the “Salute Our Troops” Jeep tour. - photo by Tom Reed

The USO's "Jeep Crew" swung by Gainesville Sunday on a Southeastern tour as part a mission to raise $1 million for the military support organization.

As part of the "Salute Our Troops" fundraising effort, Tim McGinn and Drew Stipe were showing off a restored 1952 Willys CJ-3 Jeep at the Kangaroo convenience store at 506 Jesse Jewell Parkway.

"It's our visual aid for the summer, to give people a taste of history," Stipe said. "It was a general's Jeep in Hawaii. It was just his ride around the base."

They also gave passersby the opportunity to give a video salute to the military. Videos are downloaded to kesalute.com, which has been set up for "Salute Our Troops."

People also could stop by a USO table and donate money or drop in money at a container inside the store.

Earlier in the day, the Jeep was on display at the U.S. Army Strong Bonds conference in Atlanta. Strong Bonds is a unit-based, chaplain-led program.

The USO, which is a nonprofit group founded in 1940, and the convenience store chain have teamed up to sponsor the campaign, which runs between Memorial Day and Labor Day.

The campaign covers eight states and Washington, D.C., exceeding its goal by raising $1.7 million so far, McGinn said.

Half of the money goes to USO, 25 percent to the Wounded Warrior Project and 25 percent to the Georgia National Guard Family Support Foundation.

McGinn and Stipe are with Relay of Heroes, a South Georgia company hired by USO to help with the campaign, they said.

The USO also had a booth set up, including a cardboard display that allowed passersby to write messages of support to the troops.

The booth also featured a large display of photographs of USO events, including the greeting of troops as they arrive from the Middle East at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport.

"These are the things that move me. Those are the ones that get you," said Jack Solomon of Atlanta.

Solomon and his wife, Pat, both USO volunteers, worked the "Salute Our Troops" stop in Gainesville.

"We were at Holiday Marina (in Buford) three weeks ago trying to (raise) money (for the campaign)," said Jack Solomon, a 1957 graduate of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, N.Y.

Jesse McCoy and his young son, Jack, of Dacula, were in town Sunday visiting family when they saw the Jeep resting on top of a trailer.

They had to stop. "We're both big Jeep fans," said the father, adding that he thought "Support Our Troops" was an "awesome" campaign.

But Jack didn't just spend a few moments behind the Jeep's steering wheel. The father and son recorded a "shout out" for troops while standing in front of the olive green vehicle.

The Jeep Crew will head next to Bainbridge and Thomasville.

 

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