SUPERMARKETS CONTINUE SUPPORT FOR TROOPS

Several supermarkets over the last few weeks have launched more programs to support American troops serving in and around war-torn Iraq.Some campaigns are fund-raisers held in conjunction with the United Service Organizations, a non-profit charitable organization chartered by Congress in 1941 to support U.S. military personnel.A&P, Montvale, N.J., kicked off its second annual The Great American USO

Several supermarkets over the last few weeks have launched more programs to support American troops serving in and around war-torn Iraq.

Some campaigns are fund-raisers held in conjunction with the United Service Organizations, a non-profit charitable organization chartered by Congress in 1941 to support U.S. military personnel.

A&P, Montvale, N.J., kicked off its second annual The Great American USO Fundraising Event on April 3. Donations are being made at checkout at A&P, Waldbaum's, The Food Emporium, Super Fresh and Sav-A-Center stores. A&P said it would match any donation made during the fund-raiser, up to a maximum of $50,000. Last year, the event raised $28,000 for the USO, according to A&P.

BI-LO Supermarkets, Greenville, S.C., launched Operation Goodie Bag on March 30 that encourages customers and employees to donate supplies or money to the USO.

Displays included free brochures from the American Red Cross with information to assist families of those on active duty who may have an emergency while their family member is away. At checkout, customers who make a $1 tax-free donation are given an Operation Goodie Bag card that is scanned at the register.

The cards with the donors' names are displayed in the store. BI-LO has pledged to match customer and employee donations, up to $50,000. The program runs through April 29.

Giant Food, Landover, Md., is offering customers the opportunity to make $1, $3 and $5 donations to the USO at checkout registers at Giant and Super G stores. The drive is being supported by radio and newspaper ads and banners in store windows.

Others chains are running separate programs that include prepaid phone card donations and free flags to customers.

Harris Teeter, Matthews, N.C., is reportedly selling customers $1 and $20 flags at some of its East Coast stores that it will use to purchase $20

prepaid phone cards for the troops. The retailer hopes to donate 20,000 prepaid phone cards by the end of the campaign.

Arcadia, Calif.-based Vons Cos. stores in Las Vegas are encouraging employees to support American military personnel through monetary contributions. In return for a donation, employees are given red, white and blue ribbons to wear.

Spartan Stores, Grand Rapids, Mich., has distributed over 450,000 paper flags through stores in the state as a demonstration of support for American troops. Flags were given out at Ashcraft's, Family Fare, Glen's, Great Day, Prevo's and all Spartan-supplied stores on April 11.

Food Lion, Salisbury, N.C., began to provide differential pay to employees who are serving in the Reserves or National Guard to make up the difference between their military pay and their civilian pay for the first 90 days of service. The chain this month also launched "Operation Family Support," which will seek to raise funds to provide $50 Food Lion gift certificates to military families. Food Lion will provide a 10% match to customer contributions through May 24. The American Red Cross will distribute the cards to needy families.

Stater Bros., Colton, Calif., donated supplies for care packages. The retailer also organized "Operation Family Mailbag" that encourages employees to send cards and letters of support to those on active duty.