Operation K.A.V.I.C. is an acronym for Keller Assists Veterans In Crisis. For those that may not be familiar with Operation K.A.V.I.C., it is a fund that was created to prevent our local military and veteran personnel (including armed forces veterans, reservists, national guardsmen and surviving spouses) from enduring financial hardship.
The idea behind it began in the middle of 2015 as our CEO, Bryan Keller, was admiring the other local, large companies’ corporate responsibility initiatives. He decided it was time that Keller Logistics Group and its affiliates choose a philanthropy and aim to provide the level of support the larger companies in our area continue to provide for their non-profit organizations.
The next step was to determine who we were going to help. The 2013 Christmas season came to mind – as part of a small initiate to give back, we have Jeans Day Friday at Keller Logistics Group in which the office staff pays $1 every Friday to wear jeans to work. Throughout 2013, we collected several hundred dollars – as you can tell, Jeans Day is very popular! We asked our employees where we should send the money and an overwhelming majority voted for Veterans. So, we exchanged the dollars into gift cards and dropped them off at the Defiance County Veterans Office. Over the next few weeks, we were all touched to hear the stories of how we helped our local veterans who were experiencing a financial crisis. Because of this feedback, Bryan knew our calling was to help Veterans. What solidified his decision was a little known fact: Did you know that 30% of truck drivers are Veterans? Not only is that statistic true nationwide – it’s pretty spot on here at Keller Trucking, too!
We began to meet with the Defiance County Veterans Office and heard stories of how many veterans are doing fine financially and then something unexpected happens; an illness or needed repair and they aren’t able to make ends meet. The Veterans Office can provide some aid, but expenses with dental work, car repair, and travel to non-VA medical appoints are not provided. So, we created a separate fund for which those needs could be met. We sent the idea out to our employees and asked for names- the winner, Operation K.A.V.I.C.!
The next big obstacle was finding a non-profit organization to handle distribution. We got in contact with Ravens Care of Defiance who gladly accepted our plea to handle the distribution of funds.
We had the goal, to assist Veterans in financial crisis, we had someone to distribute the funds, Ravens Care of Defiance; now the most important part – we needed to fund Operation K.A.V.I.C. After quite a lot of brainstorming, we determined that we would start small for the first year by hosting an appreciation luncheon and would ask our vendors and local businesses to sponsor the event.
Through the generous donations of our community and business partners, we surpassed all expectations and were able to raise over $36,000 to start Operation K.A.V.I.C. Since then, Operation K.A.V.I.C. has assisted 49 local families in the amount of $18,225.03 with rent, food, medical and dental bills, utilities, and car and furnace repairs! (totals are through July 31, 2016)
pictured above: 2015 Veterans Appreciation Luncheon,
Katye (Ravens Care), Erin (VA office), Bryan (Keller Logistics Group) and Chris (UAW 211)
"In creating Operation K.A.V.I.C, we are so touched to hear the stories of how we helped several of our local veterans who were experiencing a financial crisis; my heart goes out to them. They are an underserved group who have honored our country by bravely protecting our freedoms. I have tremendous respect and admiration for them. I am proud that we at Keller have put together a fund to help them when in need." Bryan Keller
Operation K.A.V.I.C. would not be possible without the hard work of the Keller team, Tanya & Erin at the VA office, Katye at Ravens Care of Defiance, and Chris from the UAW. In a very short amount of time, we took a pie in the sky idea and turned it into a reality.
Tanya Brunner from the VA office shared, “This unique charity fund is very rare for the State of Ohio, because so many donations to veteran’s charities are not able to be used locally. All the monies donated to this fund provide for families right in our own backyards.”
Operation K.A.V.I.C. is continuing to gain momentum as more veterans become aware of another avenue that can provide them with aid during financial hardship. Therefore, we continually have a need to rasie money and awareness for Operation K.A.V.I.C.
Veterans’ Day is only a few short months away and we’re gearing up for another Veterans Appreciation Dinner and fundraiser for Operation K.A.V.I.C. This year, the free to all Veterans and their families event will be on Friday, November 11th, at the UAW 211 hall. Once again we are asking our business and community partners to sponsor the dinner, donate a door prize and/or participate in our Soup Cook-off.
For details about Operation KAVIC, a list of event sponsors and donors, and ways to help with Operation K.A.V.I.C. visit our Operation KAVIC webpage, Keller Logistics Group Facebook page or contact Meredith Mickey @ 419.782.3250 or Meredith.Mickey@kellerlogistics.com.
Veterans interested in receiving assistance through Operation K.A.V.I.C., please contact the Defiance County Veterans Affairs Office at 419.782.6861.