Carolina Panthers tight-end Greg Olsen (pictured above) teamed up with the USO of North Carolina and Coca-Cola Consolidated to spread a message of appreciation and support to 200 local service members and their families over the Thanksgiving holidays, treating troops and families to tickets to the Minnesota Timberwolves versus Charlotte Hornets basketball game.

“Our service members and their families sacrifice so much for all of us all year long,” said Olsen. “It’s especially important around the holidays for us to pause and thank them for all that they do. I’m excited to be here today with the USO of North Carolina and Coca-Cola Consolidated to express our sincere gratitude through the ‘Message in a Bottle’ program.”

The USO of NC invited a group of military members and their families to join Olsen and Coca-Cola Consolidated for a private reception as part of their "No Dough" Dinner Series, a year-long program offering free meals to service members. The program helps families create connections and build relationships in their communities. The organization has hosted two dinners in Charlotte so far, serving more than 150 service members and families.

“Our mission is to strengthen America’s military service members by keeping them connected to family, home and country, throughout their service to our nation,” said John Falkenbury, president and CEO, USO of North Carolina. “Programs like ‘No Dough’ dinners and the ‘Message in a Bottle’ event connects them with valuable programs helping them overcome the challenges associated with military life.”

Coca-Cola Consolidated sponsored the reception, and asked their local teammates and members of the public to write personal messages of support to share with the service members in attendance.

“Our troops, veterans and the families that support them give so much to keep us safe and free,” said Dan Holmes, senior vice president of marketing, Coca-Cola Consolidated. “As an employer with more than 800 active-duty military and veterans on our team, it’s our privilege and honor to partner with Greg Olsen, the Hornets and the USO of NC to share our appreciation for all service members through our ‘Message in a Bottle’ program.”

Hundreds of messages were collected as part of the company’s "Message in a Bottle" initiative and then packaged into mini Coca-Cola bottles and distributed to the service members and families as a unique way to say thank you around the holidays. Learn more about the program at www.cokeconsolidated.com/message.