V for Volunteer (and Victory Junction)

Giving Back

With help from Walmart associates, a summer camp brings fun within reach for kids with serious medical conditions.

For many children, summertime means outdoor fun with friends, summer camp getaways and the joy of being young and carefree. For kids with serious medical conditions, these simple pleasures of childhood can be more challenging — and even out of reach. 

That’s exactly why Victory Junction opened its gates as a camp specially designed for children with serious illnesses. It’s also why Walmart associates have committed their support to this amazing destination on 84 acres in Randleman, North Carolina.   

Man trimming down bushes smiling at the camera

For Dan Harp (pictured above), that commitment is deeply personal. Dan is a 20-year Walmart driver based out of Transportation Office 6840 in Hope Mills, North Carolina. His granddaughter has attended the camp.

“When she comes, she gets to do things that she doesn’t normally get to do as a special needs child,” Dan says. “She enjoys archery, the slides at the swimming pool and petting the animals.”

At Victory Junction, campers get to do what kids do best — play, make friends and enjoy new experiences. The lush, sprawling camp was founded in honor of Adam Petty, the grandson of NASCAR driver Richard Petty and son of NASCAR driver Kyle Petty. Adam passed away in a racing accident at just 19 years old. 

When safe miles mean even more

Walmart donates money to the camp every year through the Safe Driving Event, Miles for Smiles. During the campaign, which runs for a week, Walmart donates two cents for every safe mile driven by its transportation team.

This year, the transportation team really went the extra (safe) mile, meeting the maximum donation cap of $180,000. This will fund a week-long session of summer camp at Victory Junction. 

Associates standing behind wheelbarrows of soil

Walmart associates also donate their time (and sweat!) during an annual visit to the camp, when they clean up the grounds and get it ready for campers. 

Chad Gilreath, a general transportation manager for Walmart out of Transportation Office 6840, says this year’s cleanup event drew 88 Walmart volunteers. The crew included associates from the Home Office, transportation offices, distribution centers and stores as well as their friends and family members.  

associates digging holes

In just five hours, they mulched, cleaned cabins, stained activity stations, trimmed trees, assembled magic kits, landscaped, repaired a miniature golf course and washed fences, entrance signs and vehicles. The team even donated a Walmart storage trailer to the camp.

“‘Thank you’ doesn’t seem to be enough,” Chad later wrote to the volunteers. “It’s amazing what you have done to provide comfort and smiles to the campers (and families) this summer.”

Making a difference for kids

Lawrence Burgess is a Walmart driver based out of Transportation Office 6840. He admits the cleanup is a lot of work, but volunteering for the camp really brings home the impact that it can have for kids. “It changed me, understanding the things that they do here that my kid might take for granted.” 

man smiling at the camera

Lawrence (pictured above) has been driving for Walmart for 31 years and has a whopping 3.5 million miles under his wheels. “Miles for Smiles is a really good campaign,” he says. “It really means a lot that we stay safe during this period. The safer that we are, the better the money is. It’s something that I take a lot of pride in.”

Freya Donald, a Walmart HR Manager in Transportation from Mt. Crawford, Virginia, explains that the annual cleanup saves the camp thousands of dollars in manual labor costs. “Being here with a group of people that are genuinely here to help out and make this experience everything it can be for the children that attend is an impressive and rewarding feeling,” she says.

Dan has been taking part in the cleanups since Walmart started doing them. He also supports the camp on the road with 1.9 million safe driving miles.  

big group of associates smiling in a group picture

“I’m proud that I’m able to contribute to Miles for Smiles,” Dan says. “We’re also taking advantage of Volunteerism Always Pays,” the Walmart program that provides grants to eligible organizations when associates volunteer.  “It’s great stuff. There aren’t a lot of other companies that do this.” 

Thanks to Dan and all the Walmart volunteers, kids will enjoy another summer of fun at Victory Junction. 

“When you bring them, you cry, because they’re going to be away from you,” Dan shares. “When you come pick them up, they’re crying, because they don’t want to leave. They want to be here with their friends.” 

Have you ever volunteered with Walmart?