Operation: Cigars for Warriors charity. Cigar charities, quite a good number of cigar brands run or support a charity program. And there are a few distributors that either support or started charities as well. They are giving back to the community. Some are open about it, raising awareness while trying to raise funds. Others do it on the low as they are afraid it is seen as marketing.
Ministry of Cigars gives the actions of distributors, brands, and organizations a spotlight. The cigar industry needs positive stories, and we need to get the word out to the general public and politicians that there is no other industry that gives back to the community as much as the cigar industry does. Today’s special is about a charity that’s not related to any cigar brand or distributor. Many brands support this charity, but no brand is responsible for the charity.
Cigars for Warriors
Storm Boen is born and raised in Texas. He is a proud American and an Army veteran. CFW Started with a conversation with another veteran, Ben Edmundson. Even though Ben Edmundson fought in another generation, the Vietnam war, both smoked cigars during their deployments. The duo shared similarities of what a cigar meant to both of them despite the generations separating them. Smoking a cigar is a morale booster and that gives relaxation in a very unrelaxed and often dangerous environment. Yet there are no cigar stores in combat zones. Soldiers rely on friends and family to supply them cigars, coffee, and other things that make them miss home. There was no organization that supplied cigars to soldiers on a regular basis.
Cigars for Warriors was born in January of 2012. The charity received its 501(c)3 Federal Charity status in May of 2012. For clarification, a 501(c)3 status is very hard to achieve with very strict federal regulations. Many charities can’t or won’t do it and stay a non-profit, a State status.
In the eight years since the start, the organization has grown and continues to grow. There are over 150 volunteers that are currently involved with Cigar for Warriors. In the last 8 years, over 1000 volunteers have been involved. More than a million cigars are donated. More than 400 businesses all over the United States act as donation centers. Mostly tobacconists, but some barbers, hotels, bars, and even a church act as a donation center.
Before August 2016, cigar manufacturers could legally donate cigars to the cause. The FDA prohibited tobacco manufacturers to donate tobacco products to charities in the original “Child Protection Act”. Once the 2016 Deeming went into effect, this place cigars within the Child Protection Act (some call it the FDA Tobacco Policy). While there are many ways around it, many have chosen the safe road and stop donating cigars. But that couldn’t bring Cigars for Warriors down. The donation boxes at tobacconists are filled by the general public, and the office of the organization sees a steady influx of donations coming in. It did create a temporary problem.
Cigar manufacturers were the biggest sponsors, and the number of cigars donated dropped dramatically due to the FDA. In the first month of 2017, after the new rules, the number of cigars shipped dropped from an average of 25.000 monthly shipped out to less than 800. But the cigar smoking community stepped up by donating more. The cigar manufacturers stepped up as well by hosting events, donating money, and other ways of support that are legally allowed.
All the donations, whether it is cigars, coffee, or other items, ship to active military on duty. Military deployed to combat zones and long term deployments in poor environments. Requests from war zones get priority. The gift bags are mix and mash bags of cigars. In about 50 percent of the cases, the care packages contain coffee, magazines, and cigar related swag as well. If you are a U.S. Service member deployed and you would like to receive care packages from Cigars for Warriors, go to the website and register. All the financial donations and the money coming in from the webshop on the Cigars for Warriors website are to cover the cost of the shipping.
Over the years, Cigars for Warriors has received a lot of praise from U.S. service members, both men and women. All of them praise the organization for the boost in morale when a package from Cigar for Warriors comes in. Just a read through the reviews on the Cigars for Warriors charity Facebook page is enough to give anybody goosebumps. The charity isn’t just noticed in the United States. The leading cigar magazine in the international markets, Cigar Journal awarded Cigars for Warriors the Cigar Trophy 2020 for all their good work! They have also been given recognition and awards from U.S. congressmen on multiple occasions for their ability to support the deployed troops.
When Cigars for Warriors started, there was only one small US military cigar club deployed overseas. Now there are 100s, and within those 100s many of them have chapters all over the world. Cigars for Warriors have been given credit as being the largest influence for the existence of all the new clubs and chapters of military cigar clubs. Many of these clubs are multi-national, some are multi-service branches and or have their contractors part of them. So you will see many photos that the recipients post on the Cigars for Warriors Facebook that many soldiers from allied countries, and contractors, share in the morale boosters.
If you want to donate, go to the Cigars for Warriors website. CigarsForWarriors.org Check if there is a donation center near you. If not, pack cigars neatly with a Boveda pack and ship it to Cigars for Warriors. Buy some swag from their website, or your favorite cigar shop, donate a few dollars to cover shipping cost, or become a volunteer. Help out and put a smile on the face of American soldiers far from home, as well as on the faces of the contractors and allied forces that the American Troops share those cigars with. Look out for some very neat collaborations that CFW has coming very soon with many different types of companies!