TAMPA BAY - The Tampa Bay Lightning honored Mark Van Trees as the ninth Lightning Community Hero this season during the first period of tonight's game versus the New York Islanders. Van Trees, who received a $50,000 donation from the Lightning Foundation and the Lightning Community Heroes program, will donate the money to Support the Troops, Inc.
Mark is the Executive Director for Support the Troops, Inc. a non-profit organization that assists our nation's military, their children and families, veteran groups and many other associated local charities. Since its inception in 2004, Support the Troops has shipped over 120 tons of items to troops overseas, 200 pallets to domestic military bases and donated over $4-million of products to local charities here in Tampa Bay.
Over the last 20 years, Mark has led a goodwill effort to raise morale, collect much-needed items and funds, and coordinate the deliveries of goods, food and supplies to those in need across the Bay Area and abroad. Support the Troops, Inc. also supports over 30 military related charities across six surrounding Bay Area counties and has delivered an excess of $3-million of donations to all eight of the local military commands and bases. Van Trees increased Support the Troops' footprint by supporting not only the military but also local non-profits. With his help, 24 local non-profits have received donations from Support the Troops, Inc.
Mark Van Trees becomes the 332nd Lightning Community Hero since Jeff and Penny Vinik introduced the Lightning Community Hero program in 2011-12 with a $10 million, five-season commitment to the Tampa Bay community. Through this evening's game, in total, the Lightning Foundation has granted $16.7 million to more than 400 different nonprofits in the Greater Tampa Bay area. During the summer of 2016, the Vinik's announced that the community hero program will give away another $10-million over the next five seasons.