Photo Release -- Eckrich and Operation Homefront Honor Military Family

LISLE, Ill., Aug. 27, 2015 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Just in time for the Labor Day weekend, Eckrich and Operation Homefront have partnered to give a local military family the ultimate backyard makeover. Medically retired U.S. Marine Lance Corporal Matthew Clarke, his fiancée and young daughter were surprised after returning home to see their backyard had experienced a renovation, thanks to Eckrich.

Eckrich and Operation Homefront Surprise the Clarke Family with a Backyard Makeover and FREE Groceries for One Year

A photo accompanying this release is available at

Eckrich initially surprised the family with a two-night getaway to Chicago. While the family was away, volunteers were secretly deployed to their house to do what they do best. And, after two days of professional building, the Clarke backyard was unveiled with a new stone patio complete with an outdoor dining set, fire pit, pergola and, of course, a new grill and professional landscaping, all courtesy of Eckrich.

When Clarke, his fiancée, Linda, and five-year-old daughter arrived home they were escorted by representatives from Eckrich and Operation Homefront, a national non-profit whose mission is to build strong, stable and secure military families, to the backyard where they were greeted by the volunteers who helped create the renovation.

As the family took in their new backyard, Eckrich presented the family with free groceries for one year. The family then got to enjoy their new backyard for the first time as part of a cookout with members from Eckrich and Operation Homefront.

For Eckrich, the surprise is part of its campaign to honor, thank and support military families. Eckrich, in its fourth year of partnership with Operation Homefront, has already donated more than $1 million to the charity since 2012.

During his four years of service, Clarke was deployed to Iraq where he took a bullet ricochet to his left shoulder. Due to a traumatic brain injury and post-traumatic stress, Clarke medically retired in 2009 and was awarded a Purple Heart for his actions in service.

"It's just amazing," said Clarke after viewing his new backyard. "I'm a little bit lost for words, but I can't thank Eckrich and Operation Homefront enough for everything they have done my family. It's great that they give back to military families."

"It's wonderful working with our partners at Operation Homefront," said Chuck Gitkin, Senior Vice President, Marketing, Smithfield Foods. "Together, we're honored to provide the Clarke family with a new backyard makeover in time to celebrate the Labor Day weekend together. Today's gifts are our way of showing thanks and appreciation for their sacrifice."

For more information about Eckrich please visit Eckrich is a brand of Smithfield Foods.

About Eckrich

Founded by Peter Eckrich in 1894, Eckrich has a rich heritage starting from a small meat market in Fort Wayne, Ind. Through it all, Eckrich meats have been recognized for their great taste and supreme quality, craftsmanship, care and pride. For more information, visit

About Smithfield Foods

Smithfield Foods is a $15 billion global food company and the world's largest pork processor and hog producer. In the United States, the company is also the leader in numerous packaged meats categories with popular brands including Smithfield®, Eckrich®, Farmland®, Armour®, Cook's®, John Morrell®, Gwaltney®, Nathan's Famous®, Kretschmar®, Margherita®, Curly's®, Carando® and Healthy Ones®. Smithfield Foods is committed to providing good food in a responsible way and maintains robust animal care, community involvement, employee safety, environmental and food safety and quality programs. For more information, visit

About Operation Homefront

A national nonprofit, Operation Homefront leads more than 2,500 volunteers with nationwide presence who provide emergency and other financial assistance to the families of service members and wounded warriors. Operation Homefront has provided assistance to thousands of military families since its inception in 2002. Recognized for superior performance by leading independent charity watchdog groups, nationally, 92 percent of Operation Homefront's expenditures go directly to programs that provide support to our military families. For more information, go to

About Giving Back at The Home Depot

Since the first The Home Depot store opened in 1979, giving back has been a core value for the Company and a passion for its associates. Today, The Home Depot, in partnership with The Home Depot Foundation, focuses its philanthropic efforts on improving the homes and lives of U.S. military veterans and their families and aiding communities affected by natural disasters. Through Team Depot, the Company's associate-led volunteer force, thousands of associates dedicate their time and talents to these efforts in the communities where they live and work.

Since 2011, The Home Depot Foundation has invested more than $105 million to provide safe housing to veterans, and along with the help of Team Depot volunteers, has transformed more than 22,000 homes for veterans. To learn more and see Team Depot in action, visit

The photo is also available via AP PhotoExpress.

CONTACT: Jeff Dennison Breaking Limits for Eckrich 2137 South Blvd., Suite 200 Charlotte, N.C. 28203 Direct: 704-766-9061 Cell: 704-252-3356 E-Mail:

Source:Smithfield Foods, Inc.