JEFFERSON-Local VFW Post recently received the largest single donation – $10,000 – in the group’s history thanks to help from the team at Hardee’s.
“We’re just incredibly grateful that they thought of us,” VFW Post 7946 Commander James Hendrix said following a short ceremony at Hardee’s in Jefferson on Dec. 14. “People are going to see this money make a big impact for local veterans. All of this is going to stay here, and we’re going to make it count.”
Local veterans and elected officials, including county commissioners Gary Roark and Jeff Rose and West Jefferson Mayor Dale Baldwin, gathered to celebrate Hardee’s donation.
The donation was made possible through a six week summer campaign hosted by Hardee’s that kicked off in May. The hometown burger joint joined other Hardee’s locations nationwide in the sale of stars designed to support the company’s charity efforts.
But Hardee’s in Jefferson, led by longtime General Manager Alicia Roark, outpaced the fundraising efforts of every other Hardee’s location in the country – and it wasn’t even close.
Roark said the Jefferson location raised nearly $10,000 – almost the entire amount donated to local veterans on Dec. 14.
“I like to think when I set my mind to something, I go get it done,” Roark said Wednesday. “And the team here always pulls together and things fall into place.”
The next highest Hardee’s location pulled in just shy of $7,500, Roark said. It’s the fifth year running the Jefferson location’s charity efforts have outdone every other restaurant in the Hardee’s chain, according to Regional Manager Bryan Haas.
“And it’s Alicia, she’s the secret weapon,” Haas said in a recent interview. “She works hard, she’s motivated and she can get her team motivated. She’s exactly the kind of person you want, the kind of person you need.”
Part of Roark’s motivation comes in fulfilling a request from her late stepson Lance Roark, who had asked his stepmom to contribute a portion of the proceeds to veterans causes. Not long after his request, Lance died in a car crash, but Alicia has continued his legacy by helping out veterans in her own way.
Ashe County Veterans Service Officer Darryl Vaughn also used the Dec. 14, celebration to present an American flag to local VFW members, courtesy of Mrs. Sally Patterson in memory of her late husband Von Patterson. Von, who had once served as a member of the Virginia National Guard, moved to the Little Peak Creek area in 2003.
Von carefully packed his treasured American flag for the move, but later died, according to an email sent by Sally Patterson. When she discovered carefully folded flag, she made the decision to donate it to a local veterans group.
Hendrix said Hardee’s donation will be used to purchase necessities veterans can’t quickly gain access to in other ways, things like wheelchairs or wooden wheelchair ramps.
“We don’t exactly have a concrete plan for what’s going to happen with it,” Hendrix said. “But we’re going to make sure that veterans who need this, ho maybe have come up short looking for help elsewhere, are going to have access to this.”
Reach Adam Orr at 336-489-3058.