Beginning in 2002, David Haddad, owner of a small business in Phoenix, Arizona, began providing cigars to the service members deployed in Afghanistan. Owning a cigar company, and owning the logo rights to the service branches for cigars, gave David a unique position to help and endear to those sacrificing for the freedoms enjoyed by Americans. What started out as way to do “his part”, turned into a massive undertaking. By working through existing organizations sending care packages, enabled the company and David to focus on finding sponsors and supporters to honor EVERY request.
In the last 13 years, over 750,000 cigars have been sent, delivered and enjoyed by deployed units, charities supporting military programs in the USA and service members celebrating everything from births, return from deployments and programs with their comrades in Arizona and all over the USA.
Some of the 100 + partners in this program include:
Blue Star Moms
Gold Star Moms
Packages from Home
Fighter Country Foundation
Arizona National Guard
Marine Air Station Yuma
Gary Sinise Foudnation
American Airlines Veterans Initiatives (6 Years)
Skyball with American Airlines (6 Years)
Snowball Express (6 years)
Nightstalkers Annual Ball (4 Years)
Veterans Day Celebrations in 20+ states
Patriot Guard Riders
Travis Layfield Foundation for fallen soldiers (7 Years)
USO (11 Years)
Rocky Top Equestrian Therapy for Wounded and PTSD Service Members
Victory Cigar Club Baghdad, Iraq (plus 20 other cigar clubs in Iraq through 2010)
Tali-Banned Cigar Aficionado Clubs (20+ chapters in Afghanistan, on board Carrier Groups, Centcom, Ft. Campbell and Ft. Bragg
Since 2004, Friends of Freedom has been the call sign of the senders, and supporters. Current programs Friends of Freedom supports.
Patriot Day Celebration held in Phoenix, Arizona.
– Career Expo
– Annual Fundraiser Gala
– Poker Tournament
– Annual Golf Tournament for Service members.
This program helps children of fallen service members cope with the loss of their parent, annually gathers 1200+ children from all over the USA via Ten American Airlines 757 and takes them with their remaining parent and siblings to, for 3 years Disneyland and 3 years Dallas, in December for Christmas and brings them together to bond and know that they are not alone. As a group, we know we cannot eliminate the hurt and pain, but can show them they have partners in their journey. This amazing program, a logistical mountain, lasts for 4 days and includes programs to help them with the emotional loss as well as put huge smiles on their faces with entertainment, food and frolic. Friends of Freedom provides entertainment packages as its donation which over the years have included Clint Black performance, world class Magicians, and infrastructure support in the form of Hotel rooms and access provided by Resort Operators. Over $150,000 in financial support and in kind donations have been provided by FOF.
Salute to the Troops for Veterans Day, from Walter Reed to Las Vegas:
This program annually since 2008 has helped over 120 severely wounded, Stress Disorder and in patients from Bethesda Naval Hospital, Walter Reed Hospital, Brooke Army Hospital and Balboa Rehab Facility picking them, and their caregiver or mate, up via American Airlines Charter 757 and taking them to Las Vegas for four days of fun and respite from the rigors of in-patient care over the Veterans Day holiday. Partnering with The Sands Corp for 3 years and now the Mirage and MGM Resorts group, we get the wounded and infirmed out of the hospital for the first time since their date of being wounded (both visible wounds and emotional wounds). This remarkable getaway is marked with both a chance for us to show we can support them through our network of corporations and organizations in their journey back to society and exposing them to new emotional support programs available. Assisted by Terry Fator (Performer extraordinaire ventriloquist), Gary Sinise and the Lt. Dan Band, Tony Orlando, Clint Black (Provided by Friends of Freedom) and The Blue Man Group, we show the ones who have sacrificed dramatically a really good escape. The event is marked with picnics, cigar socials, helicopter rides and assorted other escapes. Over the last several years, Friends of Freedom has provided entertainment packages, hotel connections, financial resources, cigars and foundational support and infrastructure to the program totaling over $100,000 and has committed to the program for 2015 and 2016.
Race Across America:
As an annual cycling challenge for military teams participating in a race across America. The 2015 team included two former navy seals, with crew support from each military branch.
Operation Iraqi/International Children:
In 2008 and 2009, Friends of Freedom in conjunction with Gary Sinise and Mary Jean Eisenhower and their teams, donated over 30 tons of school supplies to our service members deployed to both war theaters. The pre-packed one pound packages and backpacks filled with school supplies empowered the service members in the war to engage the children and their school needs, creating a good will between our enemies and our military. Value of the donation was in the form of both time, requiring over 100 hours a year to coordinate the deliveries, deploying personally into Iraq and Afghanistan and handing out the supplies with the troops, and in acquiring over 200,000 pencils through the network of supporters.
In 2008 through 2012, in coordination with the Crocs Shoes Corp, Friends of Freedom delivered and supported deliveries of over 50,000 pairs of shoes to wounded soldiers in Landstuhl Hospital in Germany, needy children in Iraq, Afghanistan and Somalia and to families of service members in the USA. By doing this outreach to our enemies, we create an environment of caring for our troops, lowering the incidence of conflict for them and fostering a working relationship between the indigenous people and our warriors.
The Lamia Afghan Foundation:
Headed by Lt. General John Bradley (Ret, Joint Chief of Command AF Reserve Commander), this partnership with Friends of Freedom has built 3 schools in refugee camps in Kabul in Afghanistan. Our support for this organization includes the collecting of needed supplies (Blankets, sweaters and shoes) to help create a working relationship for our service members and the communities most affected by the Taliban and terrorists in Afghanistan. Again, the results are to lessen the exposure of incidents that cause harm to our soldiers in the war. This lowered their need for support when they return to the states because it lessens the wounds of war by giving them purpose while they are deployed and tangible results in which they can be proud of upon their return to civilian life. Friends of Freedom has supported this program financially and with supplies totaling over $20,000
NCOA Career Fairs:
Starting in 2011, Friends of Freedom partnered with the Non Commissioned Officers Assoc. to provide career fairs in Arizona for soon to be Veterans and Veterans living in Arizona.
Our programs have gathered over 30 companies to interview over 1000 service members and Veterans to date. Friends of Freedom assist in the logistics, sourcing of partner companies and informing the community of the event. Friends of Freedom has committed to programs through 2015 to grow this event to double the number of companies and double the number of service members that will benefit.
Support for Golf Tournaments and fundraisers annually:
Over the last 10 years, over 400 local programs in 20+ states have benefitted from Friends of Freedom sponsoring cigars, hotel rooms, air travel and infrastructure needs. Each year we agree to partner with 30-45 different programs from “Tee it up for the Troops”, Marine Law Enforcement, and Travis Layfield Fund. The list of co sponsored events is extensive and encompasses the basic tenants of our mission to support compassionate and morale programming. Total value of the donations is over $650,000 and will continue for the foreseeable future.