One Airline Employee Making A Difference For Thousands Of Service Members

KRLD Difference Makers

Susy Solis
July 10, 2020 - 9:10 am
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The coronavirus has had a major impact on many industries, including airlines, but one North Texas Difference Maker wants to make sure service members know they're appreciated. 

As head of military and veteran initiatives at American Airlines, Randy Stillinger has been working with supporting the military community for years. 

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"We take a group of cancer patients to Walt Disney World in Florida - and the Snowball Express where we're taking children and widows of those who've died in service to our country and we take them to Disney," Randy said. "All that was put on hold." 

But Randy still wanted to do something for military members and veterans. 

"We saw this need. We saw soldiers and service members coming home from overseas after 9 months only to find themselves being quarantined back home for another 14 days and unable to see their families so we just knew we had to do something," Randy said. 

So they decided to create thousands of care packages for military members and those working on the frontline of the fight against the coronavirus. But first, they had to raise money to buy products and still put the care packages together. 

"We started off partnering with organizations like the Gary Sinise Foundation, the USO, Armed Services YMCA, and Defenders of Freedom," Randy said. "The concept and mission were simple, let them know we're thinking of them." 

Randy, with the help of some volunteers, started making the care packages in his garage. Maintaining social distance was probably the biggest challenge but Stillinger says they all wore masks and gloves and made thousands of care packages in just a couple of hours. 

"I've been delivering them to about 25 locations in 12 different states including military bases, homeless veterans in San Diego, National Guard COVID testing sites, and patients and staff at Walter Reed in D.C.. We sent a group of them to Afghanistan, where one of our flight attendant's son is stationed. Even the Blue Angels and Thunderbirds, they did those America Strong flights and we wanted to let them know how much we appreciate them," said Randy. 

For Randy, it's a personal mission. 

"I'm a soldier myself. I'm currently in the Army Reserve at the Pentagon and I know how important it is to receive a care package. It feels like someone is thinking about you," Randy said. 

We're proud to call Randy Stillinger this week's KRLD Difference Maker.

If you know someone who is making a difference in the community, email Susy at susy.solis@entercom.com