By: Emily Harrison
Director of Marketing and Sales
The Melting Pot Restaurants, Inc.
I first met Karin King from Treats for Troops about a year ago at a WWOTB networking event. Treats for Troops sends care packages with items ranging from toothpaste to beef jerky over to United States troops serving in remote areas of the world who don’t have access to a store on base.
I remember thinking, “that’s nice, I bet she has a son or daughter fighting in the war and this is a way that she can support and honor them.” However, fast forward to a year later when The Melting Pot of Tampa, St. Petersburg, Oldsmar and Sarasota partnered with Treats for Troops to collect donations for the organization when I realized that was not the reason she is so passionate about caring for our troops. When Karin King is asked why she does what she does for the troops, she says, “because of my freedom.” Upon getting to know Karin better, I found out that Karin is, as she says, “a brand new American.” She became a U.S. citizen in 2006. Karin met her husband in the 90’s when he was working in her native country, Suriname in South America. They eventually married and moved to the United States.
Karin King founded Treats for Troops during the holiday season in 2007 when a family friend asked her to bake cookies to send overseas to the troops. The funny thing is, she did not know how to bake and says, “I almost burned the house down!” However, she did bake some cookies, which turned out to be delicious and the overwhelming response she received in letters back, thanking her for the cookies and asking her to send more supplies led her to the realization that these soldiers needed more than just cookies. With that, Treats for Troops was founded. Karin spends her time creating awareness in the community, while she has a team of volunteers back at the warehouse who arrive at 4 a.m. every morning to pack and ship boxes. Treats for Troops ships six tons of supplies per week and its postage bill can top $65,000 per month. The organization is run completely off donations and none of the volunteers are paid a dime for what they do.
Treats for Troops receives donations from many different donors including Lance, Boy Scouts (which donates popcorn), Girl Scouts (which donates cookies) and even Zephyrhills Water Company which donates hundreds of dollars in boxes each month to pay for shipping. Many of the treats and goodies that are sent to the soldiers are eventually shared with young boys and girls in the communities in which they serve. Karin shared with me that over 90 percent of the intelligence the soldiers receive is received directly from the children in these countries. The children tell the soldiers information such as where the bombs are hiding and where members of Al-Qaeda are located.
The number one request from the soldiers is for coffee, as the soldiers need to stay alert at all times. The second most frequent request is for baby wipes, as showers can be few and far between when the troops are stationed in remote areas.
I recently spent some time in the Treats for Troops warehouse and was moved by the number of men and women who donate their time to the organization to send care packages to people they have never met. These men spend hours a day, covered in sweat, packing and shipping. Many of them being veterans themselves remember how nice it was to receive a care package when they were serving years ago.
The Melting Pot Restaurants of Tampa, St. Petersburg, Oldsmar and Sarasota are currently collecting ‘a bag and a buck’ for Treats for Troops in honor of Memorial Day, July 4th and the launch of our American Big Night
Out menu. From now until July 3, when guests bring in a gallon-sized bag filled with items to be donated to our armed forces and a dollar bill for shipping costs, they will receive a free chocolate fondue with a $50 purchase. For more information on what to include in the gallon-sized bag, visit meltingpot.com