Cigars For Warriors Program Sends Packages To Soldiers
Paul Hinman of Waxahachie is something of a cigar aficionado. He understands well what it means to relax with a good cigar at the end of a hard day’s work.
And, coming from of a military family, he knows how hard a soldier’s day can be.
So what better way to help his military mates than to provide them with cigars through the Cigars for Warriors program? Hinman is in his sixth year volunteering for the nationwide organization that sends quality cigars, along with other goods, to deployed service members in combat zones and long term floats (Navy and Marines).
“We give the deployed troops a little slice of home,” Hinman said.
Hinman became involved after learning about CFW at a cigar festival in San Antonio. At the time he was unaware the event benefited the organization, but his interest quickly became piqued.
“Coming from a military family it was a mission that spoke to me, and it is a way for me to serve,” he said.
Hinman is currently serving on the CFW Board of Directors as executive administrator. He assists the CEO (Storm Boen), as well as providing support for event coordinators (volunteers) and donation centers (tobacco retailers that collect donated cigars).
100% Volunteer Organization
Boen is also the founder of CFW in May of 2012. They are a nonprofit based out of Florida. CFW is a 100% volunteer organization.
“We know after our original treasure Ben Edmundson did a three-year survey with over 7,000 responses that premium cigars are the number one item. Number two and three switch between years and locations, that is coffee and video games.”
CFW has shipped over 1.2 million cigars over the past 10 years. Hinman said they ship approximately 100-plus care packages from the Florida and New York distribution points each week.
Next to cigars, coffee is the most popular request, Boen said.
“We ship a ton of coffee, our ultimate goal is to have 100% of our Warrior packages to have coffee in them,” he said. “We also ship, again as we have it in stock, cutters, lighters, other type of swag, etc.
“We also are about to start sending tobacco vapes and energy drinks, both donated by Ignite. Cigars International has donated over $250,000 in $100 gift cards for our troops over the last few years. Our lower enlisted troops can’t afford, typically, the super nice cigars, so this gives them an opportunity to get their favorite Lisa, or Fuente cigar they normally wouldn’t get.”
All Six Military Branches
The Warrior Packages are sent to the six military branches, Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard and Space Force. Yes, you read that last one right, Boen said.
“We recently have sent two packages to Africa, to Space Force NCOs (non-commissioned officers). I get a kick out of telling people we have sent to Space Force,” he said. “Most don’t realize it doesn’t matter what branch, you are liable to find yourself deployed on land in some country.”
Troops must go to the CFW website (cigarsforwarriors.org) and request a Warrior Package. Once the request is verified to have come from a U.S. service member, the packages are put together and sent out from one of over 500 distribution centers. They are never randomly sent, and rank does not matter, it’s first-come, first-served, Boen said. The packages always contain cigars and at least one magazine, plus whatever is on hand and available.
If funds are available, CFW also awards the Ben Edmundson Scholarship to five deserving JROTC cadets, usually between $500 to $1,000 each.
Each event coordinator and board member is required to host a fundraising event each year. Hinman and his wife host the annual Texas Cigar Roadshow. This past October they raised over $7,000, he said, with the proceeds being split evenly between CFW and the Commemorative Air Force. The event is held at Dallas Executive Airport during Wings over Dallas.
Also, corporate partners donate gift cards, magazines and other items to send to the troops.
“When I first volunteered for CFW, I was unaware of the size and scope of the mission,” Hinman said. “I am honored and humbled to volunteer.”