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Burger King restaurants offer a 'Whopping' good way to honor vets

Mike Abrahamson, Burger King area supervisor; Karin Swor, Veterans' Memorial Hall board member; Kerrie Wittkop, Burger King office manager; and Keith Brodin, Burger King restaurant manager for the London Road location, listen to Veterans' Memorial Hall program director Dan Hartman talk about a new fundraiser going on now at Burger King restaurants in Duluth to support Veterans' Memorial Hall. (Photo by Thomas Vaughn for the Budgeteer)1 / 2
Debbie and Michael Bolen operate Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory in Canal Park. They enjoy a moment of humor as they oversee the packaging of 750 pounds of fudge for distribution to military personnel abroad. (Photo by Thomas Vaughn for the Budgeteer)2 / 2

Placing a fast-food order might be getting rather dangerous.

The four Twin Ports area Burger King restaurants have just started selling military dog tags along with any food order. They will continue to do so into December.

Made of paper rather than metal, the dog tags are $1 each and patrons may write the name of any veteran they want on the dog tag. Then, Burger King employees will collect the tags and save them for a December showing.

Burger King customers will be helping Veterans' Memorial Hall (VMH), a program of the St. Louis County Historical Society, continue its mission to remember Twin Ports area veterans through exhibits and an ongoing veteran story website.

"I think the dog tag is a very recognizable symbol within the veterans' community," said Dan Hartman, program director at VMH. "Even non-veterans know what a dog tag represents within the military community."

Karin Swor is a board member at VMH. She attended a morning press conference along with Hartman to support the kickoff last week.

"Go out to Burger King and get your fast food and buy a dog tag so that we can keep recording the stories of these wonderful veterans," Swor said during the press conference in reference to the veteran story website.

When the fundraiser concludes in December, all the collected dog tags will be put on display in the Great Hall of the Depot to honor the veterans named on the tags, and to show the gratitude of the community for veterans and their service.

Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory fundraiser

Another food fundraiser, this one for active duty military personnel, wrapped up -- literally -- last week as well. Debbie and Michael Bolen operate the Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory franchise in Canal Park. The store just donated 750 pounds of fudge to troops serving abroad.

"We put about 20 pounds in each box," said Debbie Bolen, as she arranged 1-pound wrapped bags of fudge inside boxes for shipping. "It's up to the service person or chaplain who receives the box to distribute the smaller packages to the other soldiers."

The Bolens hosted three women from the local chapter of the Blue Star Mothers to help with packing. Their chapter, the Lake Superior Chapter, formed in 2009. About 100 women who are mothers of service members, either currently serving or honorably discharged, participate in its

activities.

"Last year we shipped 177 boxes overseas, since the 148th had a big deployment," said Blue Star Mother Dianne Kelleher.

She added that chapter mothers get the names and addresses of service personnel through their own children who are deployed.

"We have the names of deployed troops right now that these boxes will be going to. Probably 99 percent of these will go to Afghanistan."

Minnesota Power donated $500 to cover shipping costs, according to Bolen.

To learn more about VMH, go to www.vets-hall.org. To contact Blue Star Mothers, send an email to sealund@charter.net.

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