To strengthen AmericInn’s identity as America’s Welcoming Neighbor, owners, managers, and other attendees of the brand’s annual convention in Las Vegas filled nearly 350 care packages for American troops. The AmericInn Cares Project was a joint effort with the Blue Star Mothers of Southern Nevada, a nonprofit organization comprised primarily of mothers who have or have had children serving in the American military.
“Sometimes people in our business are accused of idea du jour, and constantly on to the next thing,” said Paul Kirwin, president and chief executive officer of AmericInn’s parent company Northcott Hospitality. “One of the things I’m proud of for the brand is that we engaged with the franchisees to build this brand identity concept. We’re trying to live it.”
I followed the crowd spilling out of the Brasilia Ballroom at the Rio Hotel into the Miranda room, where we were all prompted to put on an AmericInn Cares T-shirt, and make our way to a workstation. I found an empty spot at one of the long tables that spanned the room, and observed the materials before me: a flattened cardboard box, packing tape, a blank card, pen, address label, and the name of a female troop.
As I folded the box into shape, I thought about what I would write inside the card, to someone who was at once a complete stranger and a fellow American. Packing a box with toiletries and snacks surely couldn’t measure up against all this troop had done in the name of our country, but I thanked her for her service, and asked her to stay safe.
By the time I finished wording out my thank you, I looked up to see participants filling their boxes with toiletries, candy, nuts, books, magazines, and other items, while mine still sat there empty. I quickly switched into gear and gathered some shampoo, soap, toothpaste, mouthwash, and lotion in a small plastic baggy. I began to fill a larger bag with snacks, but I worried that I didn’t have enough. I wanted my troop to get what she deserved! I walked to the front of the room and discovered giant plastic tubs, brimming with goodies. I helped myself to chocolate bars, crackers, gum, drink powders, and any other items I could get my hands on to fill that bag up.
The woman packing a box across from me handed over a notepad with
The Office’s Michael Scott printed on it, and his catchphrase “That’s what she said.” I felt satisfied that the notepad would provide welcomed comic relief. There was still one thing missing though— I didn’t have a magazine or book. A staffer offered me a couple packs of playing cards for my box, but I still felt like I was failing my troop. All of a sudden, I remembered I had an issue of Rolling Stone in my bag, which I had intended to read on the plane ride home. I prayed that she liked Rihanna, who graced the cover, and placed it in the box.
I sealed up the package, and brought it over to the pallets stacked high with boxes for hundreds of other troops. Mission accomplished.
— Megan Sullivan, Managing Editor, Lodging