Joining the armed forces isn't a decision to be taken lightly, and veteran Marine Corps Corporal Chloe Mondesir certainly understood her commitment to her country and family. She bravely served as a Marine for over four years, but on Friday, Eckrich, the makers of naturally hardwood smoked sausage and deli meats, had the opportunity to turn the tables and give back to her.
Eckrich, a brand of Smithfield Foods, partnered with NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver Aric Almirola to surprise Mondesir with one year of free groceries from Albertsons. Under the impression that she was only meeting Eckrich representatives at Albertsons to receive race tickets to Sunday's event at Auto Club Speedway, imagine the surprise when Almirola arrived in his Richard Petty Motorsports No. 43 Eckrich Ford with a giant gift card for free groceries for one year, on behalf of Eckrich. In addition, Almirola presented Mondesir with VIP tickets for Sunday's race.
"I love seeing the look on people's faces when we have the opportunity to give them the ultimate 'thank you,'" said Almirola. "Eckrich goes above and beyond to help military families in ways that families so desperately need. Buying groceries is an expense that never goes away. Free groceries at Albertsons for the next year will hopefully ease Chloe's daily stresses and bring her the comfort that she's earned and deserves."
Mondesir, a native of Dallas, enlisted in the Marine Corps in January 2004 and was based at Camp Geiger, N.C. and in Okinawa, Japan. She served on a combat tour in Iraq during Operation Iraqi Freedom. As an ammunition technician, Mondesir maintained inventory and logistics control for all ammunition for her battalion.
After being honorably discharged in 2008, she moved back to Texas and gave birth to a daughter. In 2012, the single-mother moved to Los Angeles to follow her dream of becoming an actress. With help from Operation Homefront, Mondesir was presented a mortgage-free home through their Homes on the Homefront program and enrolled in a local college to study theatre.
The surprise is part of Eckrich's ongoing partnership with Operation Homefront, a national nonprofit which provides emergency financial and other assistance to the families of service members and wounded warriors. Over the past three years, Eckrich has donated more than $750,000 to the organization and will surpass $1 million in donations by the end of 2015.
"Giving back to military families is something we take great pride in at Eckrich," said Charles Gitkin, Senior Vice President, Marketing, Smithfield Foods. "We recognize the sacrifice that these men, women and their families make and we are so grateful to them. We have incredible partners in Albertsons, Operation Homefront and Aric Almirola who supported us in honoring our military families. We all hope Chloe and her family enjoy their groceries and know that they are all appreciated."