Pipes Support to Care Package Group

By Samantha L. Quigley
American Forces Press Service

PHOENIX, Nov. 6, 2006 - For every drain ABC Plumbing and Rooter Company Inc., clears, a local troop-support group clears a $5 donation.

"We decided that $5 out of every call -- every home, every business those trucks pull up to -- would go to 'Packages From Home,'" Rudolf Kellner, the Chandler, Ariz.-based company's director said. Kellner was on hand for the grand opening of the group's new 3,500 square-foot facility in Phoenix.

Packages From Home is a member of America Supports You, a Defense Department program highlighting ways Americans and the corporate sector support the nation's military.

That support totals between $13,000 and $14,000 since the company made the decision in May 2005 to lend its support to the organization. That includes a $5,000 donation made Nov. 2. "We wanted to do something other than take," Kellner said.

Most customers are appreciative of the gesture, he said. Only one customer in the thousands of calls the company has made since starting the donation program has not been on board with the idea. "That particular time we suggested that that individual might get back in the Yellow Pages and find another plumbing company, (that) we were probably a little bit too 'red, white and blue' for his taste," Kellner said.

More than half of ABC Plumbing and Rooter Company's 11 employees are veterans, so Kellner thought his company was a natural match for Packages From Home, which is based in Arizona.. Kellner, who became a U.S. citizen hours before joining the Air Force, vetted the organization carefully before making a commitment, though. "Somebody called me from Packages From Home (and) my first comment was, 'If this organization has a board of directors and/or paid employees, I want no involvement.'"

When he found that nearly 100 percent of Packages From Home's donations go to creating the care packages or covering the postage required to ship them, he was convinced. In fact, Kellner was so impressed by the organization that started when founder Kathleen Lewis shipped the first care packages to her son serving in Iraq two years ago, that he took his company's support a step further.

"Every letter that goes out, invoices that we send out, bills that we pay, we insert a Packages From Home flier in that mail out," Kellner said. "We get calls, 'We got this flier; tell us how we can do something.' And then we'll put them in touch with the (Packages From Home) Web site or somebody from Packages From Home."

ABC employees also leave a Packages From Home brochure at each service call, he said. "We probably promote Packages From Home on the same level as we promote our own company," Kellner added.

The company also supports troops directly through a public service announcement it created with the help of a local CBS affiliate. The piece airs statewide on CBS affiliates every year on what company officials feel are several important national holidays, including Memorial Day, the Fourth of July, Veterans Day and Pearl Harbor Day. The ad states that no matter an individual's views on the war, the troops deserve the nation's support.

"(It's about) what we can do to boost the morale and the spirits of those that wear the uniform (and) are willing to serve on our behalf," Kellner said, adding that the size of the check is insignificant. "It's what 10,000 people getting together (and) contributing $1 does."

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