LISLE, Ill., June 12, 2014 /PRNewswire/ -- Platinum-selling country music artist Randy Houser joined Eckrich, part of the John Morrell Food Group, a subsidiary of Smithfield Foods, today for a special homecoming for our wounded military service members and their families. Accompanied by the Eckrich mobile sampling tour, Houser participated in a ribbon-cutting ceremony for a new Operation Homefront Village in Gaithersburg, Maryland. The chart-topping singer and songwriter also performed select hits to help welcome the families to their new homes before joining them in a cookout featuring Eckrich naturally hardwood smoked sausage and savory deli meats.
Gaithersburg Mayor Sidney A. Katz and members of his council were also in attendance to celebrate the opening of the new Operation Homefront Village located at Hidden Creek Apartments. The Village will provide the military families with rent-free accommodation while they transition from the military to civilian life due to their injuries.
Houser performed for the Operation Homefront Village families and several hundred Hidden Creek Apartments residents in attendance and also distributed a $100 gift card good at Giant Food stores to each Village family, on behalf of Eckrich. Prior to his performance, Houser spent one-on-one time with selected military families who are currently Village residents and personally thanked each family for their service to the country and for their sacrifice. Houser has been a supporter of our military troops and their families throughout his career, and has even traveled to Iraq to perform for the active soldiers there.
"The men and women who serve this country, and their families, sacrifice so much to protect our freedom," said Houser. "It's an honor to have the opportunity to show our appreciation and join Eckrich in supporting military families with Operation Homefront."
The visit and cookout were part of the Eckrich "Operation Inspiration" campaign which supports and honors military families. This is Houser's first year of partnering with Eckrich and his participation with the award-winning campaign. He will continue to honor military families throughout the summer at select concerts and events.
"We are thrilled to be able to host the housewarming for the new Operation Homefront Village," said Chuck Gitkin, vice president, marketing, innovation and R&D for the John Morrell Food Group. "Having Randy (Houser) and the community join us for this event and cookout, really makes for a memorable day for our military families. This new Village provides an unbelievable relief for these families and today's visit and performance from Randy was our way to welcome them to their new home."
Now in its third year of partnership with Operation Homefront, Eckrich has already donated more than a half a million dollars to the organization. Eckrich is again donating up to $250,000 this year through the contribution of five cents from each purchase of specially marked products from May 1 through July 4. Operation Homefront is a non-profit organization which provides emergency housing, financial and other assistance to service members and wounded warriors.
"We couldn't be happier to be joined by Mayor Katz, Randy Houser and our good friends at Eckrich to celebrate the opening of our new Village," said Jim Knotts, Operation Homefront's president and CEO. "Our Village program affords wounded warriors and their families with stable housing while they transition from the military, addressing the critical gap that so often exists before they begin receiving veteran benefits."
Each furnished Village apartment – including the cost of financial counseling and other transition programs for residents – costs more than $20,000 per year with a total program budget of more than $1.5 million for three Village locations across the country. The program is made possible by generous contributions from individual donors, corporate foundations and partners. No federal funding is provided.
For more information about Eckrich, including "Operation Inspiration," it's partnership with Randy Houser and its mobile sampling tour, please visit www.facebook.com/EckrichMeats.
Founded by Peter Eckrich in 1894, Eckrich has a rich heritage starting from a small meat market in Fort Wayne, Ind. Through it all, Eckrich meats have been recognized for their great taste and supreme quality, craftsmanship, care and pride. For more information, visit www.eckrich.com.
About John Morrell Food Group
With over a century and a half of experience, John Morrell Food Group brands have become respected and well known for providing premium-quality meat products to families across the United States. With products ranging from lunchmeat and franks to smoked sausage, bacon and pepperoni, the John Morrell Food Group is an important part of consumers' mealtimes. The John Morrell Food Group offers several national and regional brands including Armour®, Eckrich®, John Morrell®, Curly's®, Patrick Cudahy®, Carando®, Healthy Ones®, Margherita® Kretschmar® and LunchMakers®.
About Randy Houser
Randy Houser took country fans and industry insiders by storm with the 2013 release of How Country Feels. Scoring three consecutive No. 1 hits with the title track, "Runnin' Outta Moonlight" and "Goodnight Kiss," Houser also earned the American Country Award for Most Played Radio Track: Male ("How Country Feels"). His new single "Like A Cowboy" is impacting radio now, and Houser can be seen at headlining dates and on Brad Paisley's Country Nation World Tour.
About Smithfield Foods
Smithfield Foods is a $14 billion global food company and the world's largest pork processor and hog producer. In the United States, the company is also the leader in numerous packaged meats categories with popular brands including Smithfield®, Eckrich®, Farmland®, Armour®, Cook's®, Gwaltney®, John Morrell®, Kretschmar®, Curly's®, Carando®, Margherita®, and Healthy Ones®. Smithfield Foods is committed to providing good food in a responsible way and maintains robust animal care, community involvement, employee safety, environmental, and food safety and quality programs. For more information, visit www.smithfieldfoods.com and www.smithfieldcommitments.com.
About Operation Homefront:
A national nonprofit, Operation Homefront leads more than 2,500 volunteers with nationwide presence who provide emergency and other financial assistance to the families of service members and wounded warriors. Operation Homefront has provided assistance to thousands of military families since its inception in 2002. Recognized for superior performance by leading independent charity watchdog groups, nationally, 93 percent of total donations to Operation Homefront go directly to programs that provide support to our military families. For more information, go to www.OperationHomefront.net.
About Giant Food
Giant Food LLC, headquartered in Landover, Md., operates 170 supermarkets in Virginia, Maryland, Delaware, and the District of Columbia, and employs approximately 20,000 associates. Included within the 170 stores are 157 full-service pharmacies. Giant opened the first supermarket in the nation's capital on February 6, 1936. Giving back to the community is a cornerstone that was instilled by the founders more than 78 years ago. The company's core areas of giving include hunger, education, health and wellness, and supporting service members and military families. In 2013, Giant's monetary and in-kind contributions exceeded $13 million, and the nation's capital grocer helped partners provide 64.6 million meals. For more information on Giant, visit http://www.giantfood.com/