By Sharon Foster
American Forces Press Service
March 31, 2009 - Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus recently presented a $12,636 check to American Recreational Military Services to help the troop-support group ship care packages overseas to deployed servicemembers. The check included a $10,000 donation and a portion of the circus's four opening-night proceeds from performances in New Jersey and New York earlier this month.
"We had been scrambling for months to cover costs as donor fatigue and the economic decline had cut into our donations," Ronnie Micciulla, executive director at American Recreational Military Services, said. "The average cost for shipping an individual box overseas is $10. We are very thankful for this support."
The American Recreational Military Services goal this year is to provide a care package for every tri-state area servicemember, Micciulla added.
Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus learned about the New York group's woes from an employee while riding in a New York cab. After hearing about the group's struggles from a media news story, the employee started thinking of ways she could possibly help.
"I have a brother who fought in Iraqi Freedom, so I know first-hand how important it is for the troops to receive these packages," Amy Alter, director of marketing for Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus, said. "When I heard about this group having all these packages stored in a warehouse, but no funds to ship them, I knew we had to do something. It just seemed like the right thing to do."
Throughout the four circus performances, American Recreational Military Services had 90-second spots at each show to say something about the group and serve as the guest ringmaster. The group also was allowed to set up a table at each event to hand out pamphlets about the group and talk about how Americans can support the nation's troops.
"All the money raised will be going to either shipping packages to our troops or buying supplies that our troops need and can't get," Micciulla said. "We also will use the money to take care of the families back home, ... helping to pay bills they can't pay, helping when a disaster hits a family and running a food pantry so our families don't have to go without."