Cigars for Warriors: Fulfilling the Mission During the Pandemic

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    The charity’s infrastructure has also grown significantly over the years—sometimes faster than the critical paperwork could be done or proper training could be conducted. As many volunteers can attest, there have been periods of time for the charity when everyone was doing so much that a new volunteer was thrown into the mix without all of the knowledge they needed. Over the years, we have greatly improved that disservice to our staff, and in the last two and a half years, with the addition to the yearly workshop, the infrastructure and all that entails has greatly improved. Now, because of this COVID-19 disaster, it has given the leaders of the charity the critical time they have needed for years to fill in or fix the holes that the charity has had.

    Many in the public that support CFW really have no clue of the depth of what CFW is. We are slowly improving in all those areas that are not so fun—like the creation of better bylaws and standard operating procedures—that are so critical for the future success of the charity. Because many of our volunteers are on furlough or working from home, we have been able to move forward at a greater speed in some of these tortuous areas.

    There are other positives that this disaster has given the charity—especially in the areas of our creative projects that are occurring now or will occur in the future. Many of our big podcast supporters, like the .“Bakersfield Gentlemen,” are doing unique fundraiser programs that CFW benefits from. Our social media department has started a new campaign called “Quarantine Clean-Up,” where they ask the public to go and clean out their humidors for the benefit of our troops. Our supporters cleaned their humidors big time, and CFW greatly benefitted. The CFW marketing department got on board with the Giving Tuesday campaign, and we put out a plea to our supporters to give extra support, and they did tremendously! Several online stores did specials that CFW benefited greatly from. A unique example of this was Smoke Inn’s “Pay it Forward” 48-hour deal. If you bought $100 or more, Smoke Inn would forward a $50 gift certificate to someone of your choosing. Many people chose CFW to receive the certificate!

    There are also several cigar manufacturers, like Hiram and Solomon, Illusione Cigars and Caldwell Cigars, whose teams are working on some very neat cigar collaborations with CFW. These are just three examples of upcoming projects that have been in the works for half a year. During this time of the COVID-19 pandemic, we have been able to get many parts of some of these projects off the ground that would normally have taken double the amount of time or more.

    Operation: Cigars for Warriors Fulfilling the Mission During the PandemicPeople have also asked me, “Do you have that many requests coming in from the troops since the pandemic started?” The answer to that is an emphatic “yes.” In fact, we have an even higher number of requests coming in from our deployed men and women servicemembers. As one soldier put it, “The suicide bomber didn’t get furloughed because of a virus he was afraid of getting.” The troops are under even more pressure, as hard as that is to believe, because of this pandemic. They still have to do their jobs while adding a ton of health precaution standards, which has made their jobs so much harder and has added an inordinate amount of stress to our troops.

    Remember what an army doctor stated years ago, “For our men and women who are smoking a cigar while deployed, the mental health benefits outweigh any potential health risks.” Another anecdote that we have received in many forms over the years basically states, “Smoking a cigar after a bad day in a war zone is the first line of defense against post-traumatic stress disorder.” When you’re upset that you have to go curbside to get your cigars or wait in line for your coffee, think of our troops.

    Stay healthy, and remember to thank your essential workers, first responders and, of course, our amazing military! In many cases, our military personnel are performing the roles of our essential workers, our first responders, medical teams and working as our protectors. Grab a cigar, box it up, and mail it to CFW’s headquarters at 8585 S.W. Hwy. 200, Unit #16, Ocala, FL 34481. Every donation counts!

    This story first appeared in the July/August 2020 issue of Tobacco Business magazine. Members of the tobacco industry are eligible for a complimentary subscription to our magazine. Click here for details.

    Contributed by Storm Boen, Chairman, Operation: Cigars for Warriors