Heartland Coca-Cola Bottling Company might be new to the Coca-Cola system, but the bottler is deeply committed to advancing the Coca-Cola tradition of serving the local community.

Heartland recently hosted leaders in St. Louis and Kansas City to offer its support to the community and announce donations to local veterans organizations in partnershp with The Coca-Cola Foundation.

“Being successful is not about being the biggest... it’s about being the best,” said Ulysses “Junior” Bridgeman, CEO, Heartland Coca-Cola Bottling Company. “Coca-Cola has always been committed to serving the communities where it operates, and our top priority is to get out and meet business, civic and government leaders and work with them to determine how best Heartland can support and serve.”

In St. Louis, The Coca-Cola Foundation awarded a $100,000 grant to The Mission Continues, a national nonprofit organization that empowers veterans adjusting to life at home to find purpose through community impact. The Mission Continues trains veterans for hometown deployment in their communities. Veterans work along alongside nonprofit partners and leaders in cities across the country to solve issues facing their communities including issues such as improving community education resources, eliminating food deserts, mentoring at-risk youth and more. The grant will support one year in the life cycle of four Service Platoons – including one in St. Louis – that will impact 17,000 veterans and community members.

Junior Bridgeman addresses the audience in Kansas City.

“We are excited to be able to expand our program with support from The Coca-Cola Foundation,” said Mary Beth Bruggeman, executive director, southeast region, The Mission Continues. “Through our unique program, St. Louis veterans will build new skills and networks that help them successfully reintegrate to life after the military. Along with transforming themselves, veterans will be able to make long-term, sustainable transformations in communities and inspiring future generations to serve.”

Helen Smith Price, president, The Coca-Cola Foundation, added, “Our U.S. veterans have given so much to serve our country and we support them when they return home and need our help. The Mission Continues is a unique program that provides opportunities for returning veterans to use their talents and skills in service to their hometown communities." 

In Kansas City, Heartland donated $30,000 to the Veterans Community Project, a local organization that works to eliminate veteran homelessness by providing transitional-housing and enabling access to critical services. Heartland’s donation will fund the construction of two “tiny homes” for veterans. 

A Heartland Coca-Cola truck arrives in St. Louis.

“We are honored to able to recognize and support The Mission Continues and the Veterans Community Project for the important work they are doing in service to our veterans in St Louis, Kansas City and throughout the U.S.,” said Bridgeman. “Coca-Cola Heartland stands ready to support our returning veterans as they participate in the programs provided by both organizations throughout this coming year.”