WILLIAMSVILLE — Tops Friendly Markets, a leading full-service grocery retailer in New York, northern Pennsylvania, and Vermont, announced that the company will be launching a Stars for Our Troops initiative beginning June 9-22.

The program welcomes the community to donate their worn and tattered American Flags at select Tops Markets locations for proper retirement. In collaboration with partner Veterans organizations, including Honor Flight and local VFW’s, embroidered stars will be preserved and presented to local veterans who have defended our flag.

“The respect and gratitude we have for the people who serve and have served in the military is immeasurable, and for that we are forever grateful,” said Kathy Sautter, public and media relations manager for Tops. With Flag Day approaching on June 14 and the upcoming Fourth of July holiday, Tops wanted to offer the community this service to not only properly retire their flags, but also know they are in some small way extending their thanks and respect to a Veteran through Stars for Our Troops.

“Many people don’t know how or where to retire their aged flags and end up just tucking them away in a garage or attic. This program allows us to not only assist the community with proper retirement, but also gives back to our Veterans in a unique and meaningful way,” said Sautter.

When stars are removed and presented to a Veteran at local VA Hospitals, nursing homes, and placed in Honor Flight care packages the following message is tucked along with each star: "I am part of our American flag that has flown over the USA. I can no longer fly. The sun and winds caused me to become tattered and torn. Please carry me as a reminder that You are not forgotten.”

In all, 33 Tops Friendly Markets locations as well as the Tops Corporate office will have collection bins in their vestibules for American Flag Retirement June 9-22. Participating locally will be the Dansville location at 35 Franklin Plaza.