100 percent of proceeds directly allocated to veterans.
Video by Allyson Morin
Article by Matt Benedetti
The iconic Table & Vine in West Springfield was unusually quiet on this early May morning as Phil Conner navigated his carriage down the wide aisle while Billy Joel lamented the fate of the Piano Man over the store sound system.
The wheels of late middle-aged Conner’s shopping cart screeched to a halt in front of the Yuengling Lagers for Heroes display. He hoisted a case of beer into the carriage and nodded his approval at the sign reading “100 percent for veterans.”
Although he was already an avid Yuengling customer–having visited the brewery in Pennsylvania–the robust program coordinated through the Veterans of Foreign Wars seemed to affirm his brand loyalty.
“I think it’s terrific to have a great beer like Yuengling and to have them involved with such a great program-it’s terrific,” said the Enfield, Conn. resident.
Entering its third year, Yuengling continues to support the military community through the Lagers for Heroes program, which collects donations on behalf of the VFW.
Yuengling District Manager, Jim Lowe, understands the value of such a worthy initiative.
“Veterans are everywhere and without the sacrifices they have made along with their family members, we might not have the freedom we enjoy today,” said Lowe, who guides the program here in Massachusetts.
“At Yuengling, we have a slogan, ‘Respect. It’s Earned,’ so this is just a small way I feel we can pay our respects,” said Lowe.
In 2016 and 2017, D.G. Yuengling & Son, Inc. awarded the VFW nearly $210,000 in support for scholarships, financial grants, employment assistance and other services to veterans, service members and their families.
The Lagers for Heroes program has steadily grown throughout Massachusetts with 22 stores participating across the Commonwealth as of May 2018.
“Initially, we started with a few stores in eastern Mass. and now we’ve expanded into central and western Mass,” said Lowe.
Lagers for Heroes was launched in 2016 through a partnership with the VFW and has raised approximately $20,000 locally since its inception. Every penny of the donations raised go to help local veterans and their families in Massachusetts.
Partnerships are pivotal to the success of the campaign. Kappy’s Wine and Spirits, a Massachusetts landmark for the better part of the past century, has already raised $3,326 in support of the program in the last week alone.
“We wanted to take it a step further here in Massachusetts, so we developed the in-store fundraising program in which participating stores like the Table & Vine, who share our values towards vets, to help collect donations at checkout,” said Lowe.
He added he finds the campaign to be personally rewarding.
“It really is a great cause and as we head into Memorial Day, it’s always great to remember those who have served,” he said.
Beer Manager Tom Gamache at Table & Vine echoes Lowe’s sentiment.
“When military members from Westover (ARB) come in, we always thank them for their service,” said Gamache.
As expected, aisle traffic picks up as customers peruse the stocked shelves in preparation for weekend graduations, cookouts and playoff games. The last notes of Billy Joel fade into a Huey Lewis hit from a long-forgotten summer.
Lowe turns to thank Conner for being such a loyal Yuengling customer and for supporting the Lagers for Heroes program.
“Thank you for your business,” said Lowe.
“Thank you for the beer,” Conner replied.
A customer entering Julio’s Liquors in Westborough with the intention of purchasing beer, wine or myriad other products will be unable to ignore the Lagers for Heroes display conspicuously positioned near the entryway.
Large Yuengling and VFW emblems featured prominently on the board urging support for Massachusetts veterans. The display, peppered with names of employee donors, occupied prime real estate in the most heavily trafficked section of the popular and immaculately clean store.
The placement here is no accident and is the clearest indicator of owner Ryan Maloney’s steadfast commitment to veterans and their families. In an era of bumper sticker patriotism and vague corporate jingoism, Ryan Maloney demonstrates his allegiance to veteran causes throughout the year by taking meaningful action. He actively raises money for several charitable organizations including Sweats for Vets, the Shriners and Vets Inc., among other organizations.
Partnering with the VFW and Yuengling Beer to help promote the Lagers for Heroes program was a quick decision for the energetic business owner and philanthropist.
“We believe in supporting local vets because they do so much for us. We enjoy the freedoms that they provide every day and if we can give back in some way- it’s the least we could do,” said Maloney.
As well, Maloney will host a podcast from Julio’s to help support the program on May 19.
“Both Yuengling and the VFW are doing something that you don’t always see in corporate America, raising money for those who need it,” said Maloney.
He said he is happy to offer continued support to such a worthwhile cause.
“We enjoy the freedoms that they provide every day and this is just a way to say thank you,” he said.
Wachusett Wine and Spirits
Mike Faucher, the proprietor of Wachusett Wine and Spirits in West Boylston, needs no persuading when the subject turns to supporting members of the U.S. military.
Faucher’s grandfather and founder of the business served in the Navy during World War II. Charles Faucher’s wartime assignments included operations during the D-Day invasion as well as minesweeping duties in the North Sea where he was awarded a Purple Heart for wounds suffered during enemy action.
Faucher was eager to participate in the Lagers for Heroes program.
“I was approached by Yuengling and did some research and discovered that 100 percent of the donations go to local veterans,” said Faucher, who named the store blog, “What’s Next” in honor of his grandfather’s PT Boat. “I was happy to help,” he said.
Faucher was also comfortable working with the Massachusetts VFW.
“The VFW is the best way to give back to veterans, the VFW in Massachusetts is very proactive and they always step up to help veterans and their families,” he said.
Eric Segundo, the State Commander for the VFW in Massachusetts recognizes how this program directly enhances the quality of life of veterans and their families.
“The Lager for Heroes program helps provide the financial and moral support needed to continue our mission,” said Segundo.
“The partnership with Yuengling has demonstrated their deep commitment to our work of providing assistance to our Veterans, their widows and families. There is no way to fully express our gratitude for their loyalty,” he said.
The tangible results are experienced by Massachusetts veterans and their families throughout the state.
Rebekah Flaherty, the wife of a deployed soldier, contacted the VFW last fall in dire need of assistance due to a damaged roof.
“As soon as we contacted the VFW, we got immediate help” she recalled.
Funding for the roof was allocated by the VFW Unmet Needs fund and a partnership with Yuengling Beer through the Lagers for Heroes Program. Beantown Home Improvement supplied the much-needed repairs.
Participating retailers across the state will collect donations upon checkout when community members elect to donate when making their beer purchase. Funds from donations will be used to support grants VFW has designated for the state from which the donations originated.
The next time you raise a glass, extend a hand to help a veteran in need.
To learn more or get involved, please visit www.vfwma.org.