Forces families, serving personnel and veterans will benefit from extra support thanks to more than £139,400 raised by Lincolnshire Co-op's Community Champions scheme.
The RAF Benevolent Fund and The Royal British Legion help care for service people past and present who need support with a range of issues, from financial support and mobility problems to housing. And together with members and colleagues, Lincolnshire Co-op has raised a six-figure sum that will help bolster each charity's work.
The money was presented to the two charities at the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight Visitor Centre at RAF Coningsby, home of many famous flight crews including the Dambusters.
Lincolnshire Co-op's Community Co-ordinator Ryan Hodson said: "We're delighted to have raised more than £139,400 together with our members and colleagues for the RAF Benevolent Fund and The Royal British Legion. Each charity has an equal share of the final total so they can use it to stand shoulder to shoulder with service people and change lives for the better.
"The community around us is closely linked with the armed forces and these charities do an important job caring for the health and wellbeing of service people past and present and their families."
Area Director for the RAF Benevolent Fund Mark Quinn said: "On behalf of everyone at the RAF Benevolent Fund I am sincerely grateful to the Lincolnshire Co-op team for the truly superb support we have received this year, and the incredibly kind donation of more than £69,000.
"Wonderful contributions such as these allow us to continue providing a welfare safety net to those members of the RAF family in their time of need. As the RAF's oldest friend, we are extremely grateful for donations which allow us to support those who need it most, and stand side by side with them through life's highs and lows.
"As RAF100 draws to a close and we look towards our own centenary in 2019, enduring relationships such as this fill me with great enthusiasm - together we can reach new audiences and help even more deserving beneficiaries."
Royal British Legion Regional Fundraising Manager for the East Jo Ticehurst said: "On behalf of the Royal British Legion, I just want to say a huge, massive thank you to Lincolnshire Co-op and all of its staff and members. This is an outstanding fundraising total and we are so grateful to all who contributed towards it.
"This Poppy Appeal, as we mark 100 years since the end of the First World War, The Royal British Legion is asking the nation to say, ‘Thank You’ to the entire First World War generation who served, sacrificed and changed our world, as well as those that serve or have served in today’s current Armed Forces.
"Here in Lincolnshire we fund much-needed community projects including Camaraderie Clubs, run by the Royal Voluntary Service Lincolnshire, which allows older veterans the opportunity to attend a weekly club in a safe, friendly and open environment, whilst it also provides voluntary roles for ex-service people as well.
"We also aid funding towards local beneficiaries that may need home adaptations through our Handy Van service and provide support with our Benefits & Money Advice Service. This is a generous donation that will help make a big difference in Lincolnshire."
More than 158,000 members raised the total by shopping in Lincolnshire Co-op stores throughout summer. A donation was made each time a member shopped using their dividend card.
Over £11,700 was collected from donation boxes in outlets and over £22,900 was raised thanks to people who uncluttered their wardrobes and donated unwanted clothes using Salvation Army clothing banks at Lincolnshire Co-op stores. The proceeds are split between the Salvation Army and Lincolnshire Co-op, and the Society's share was added to the total.
Many Lincolnshire Co-op colleagues also went above and beyond by holding their own events from book sales and raffles to sports days. In total over £6,600 was raised from such fundraising, which also included activities on Armed Forces Day in June when stores dressed up in 1940s attire, held bake sales and organised paper plane games.
Producers in Lincolnshire Co-op's Love Local range created their own forces-themed products and 10p from each sale of these was added to the total, raising over £1,800. These included Bastion Pale Ale by Ferry Ales Brewery in Fiskerton, Just Jane Cheese and Red Leicester Bastion in the Air from Lymn Bank Farm near Skegness, Dambuster chutney from Jenny’s Jam in Lincoln, cupcakes from Gadsby's bakery in Southwell and spicy sun-dried tomato, chili and garlic Red Arrow sausages from Uncle Henry's near in Grayingham near Gainsborough.
Wholesale Manager for Uncle Henry's Graham Ward said: "It's great to support local charities that mean so much for the county of Lincolnshire. We’ve enjoyed working alongside Lincolnshire Co-op helping to support service people who may be in difficulties."