Miami, FL, September 7, 2011 – Interval International, a prominent worldwide provider of vacation services and an operating business of Interval Leisure Group (Nasdaq: IILG), and Steel Magnolias Ministries/Operation Any Soldier have joined forces to honor more than 100 active military families, wounded warriors, and veterans through the gift of travel. In commemoration of the 10th anniversary of September 11th, U.S. servicemen and women have been presented throughout the past year with week-long, villa vacation stays to enjoy at Interval’s global network of affiliated resorts.
It all began when Steel Magnolias co-founder, Deborah Powers-Holloway and her husband, Milton, became Interval members through their timeshare purchase in Virginia Beach, Virginia, approximately five years ago.
“We are very fortunate to have this retreat,” shared Powers-Holloway. “It occurred to me it would be really wonderful if our military families could enjoy the experience too.”
She approached Interval with this idea in mind and together they made the “Year of Giving” program a reality. Powers-Holloway’s charity was already creating custom care packages for deployed troops from all branches of service. The organization eagerly embraced the opportunity to add the gift of vacation time.
"I've been at Interval for more than 25 years, and it's such a pleasure to hear from members such as Deborah, and particularly about her work to improve the lives of our brave servicemen and women," said Jeanette Marbert, chief operating officer. "The memory of the tragic September 11th events is weighing on the hearts and minds of the nation this month, and so the gift of family time is that much more meaningful. Along with our affiliated resorts, we are privileged to play a role in giving back to and creating cherished vacation memories for these families."
For six year-old, Aja, May 13, 2011 was a very special day. She was flying to Orlando, Florida, to meet Mickey Mouse and his friends. And tagging along were her parents, retired U.S. Army Sergeant Travis and Belinda Manning.
The Mannings met in 2002 while Travis was enlisted, and were later married. By January 2004, he was deployed to Iraq, and eight months later, Belinda received news her husband had been injured, including burns to 40 percent of his body. After many months of surgeries and physical therapy, he returned to his unit at Fort Bragg (North Carolina) until he was medically retired in 2006. Travis was honored with a Purple Heart and several other medals due to his military contributions.
Commenting on the vacation, Belinda said, “It was exciting to have all three of us together, and so good to get away. We’ve never been on a big trip like this. One of the highlights was when Travis went swimming. Since he was injured, he usually doesn’t swim, but he did it for Aja. There are not enough words to express how much we appreciate this vacation.”
In addition to the gift of travel, Interval supports Powers-Holloway’s care package initiative. Staff at its Miami-based facilities recently raised more than $3,000 through bake sales to assist the organization. “Our employees have connected with the troops’ sacrifices and heart-warming family vacation experiences,” continued Marbert. “They have embraced Steel Magnolias’ mission, and wanted to do more to help.”
“Interval and Steel Magnolias have pioneered a program through the ‘Year of Giving’ that has not been duplicated in the same fashion. Countless lives have been touched, and hope has been given. We are so grateful to have this partnership,” concluded Powers-Holloway.
About Steel Magnolias Ministries / Operation Any Soldier
Steel Magnolias Ministries is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization. The foundation is focused on those who serve by putting faith in action through offering encouragement to deployed and wounded U.S. troops, veterans, and their families. The 2012 goal is to touch the lives of 20,000 deployed troops through custom care packages, while also creating strategic corporate partnerships – including those within the travel industry – to enhance the lives of military families. For more information or to make a donation, visit www.steelmagnoliasministries.org.
About Interval International
Interval International operates membership programs for vacationers and provides value-added services to its developer clients worldwide. Based in Miami, Florida, the company has been a pioneer and innovator in serving the vacation ownership market for 35 years. Today, Interval has an exchange network of approximately 2,600 resorts in over 75 nations. Through offices in 15 countries, Interval offers high-quality products and benefits to resort clients and approximately 2 million families who are enrolled in various membership programs. Interval is an operating business of Interval Leisure Group, Inc. (Nasdaq: IILG), a leading global provider of membership and leisure services to the vacation industry.
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Interval International, 6262 Sunset Drive, Miami, FL 33143www.intervalworld.com www.resortdeveloper.com