National retailers give back to the community - December 18, 2016

Courtesy of The Times of Northwest Indiana • Dec 18, 2016

By Bob Moulesong

A store can be both national and local. It might be part of a large, corporate chain, but the retailer is staffed with local people who care about their community. These national chains reach out and touch the communities around their stores, and they are great examples of how big can still be small.

Macy’s Believes in Magic

When you think of Macy’s, you usually think of the spectacular Thanksgiving Day parade. But the retailer’s charitable efforts are much greater than an annual parade.

The Chicagoland Macy’s stores have partnered with the Make-A-Wish Foundation to host children from the Chicago Commons head start program for a morning of holiday cheer.

“The children will all write a letter to Santa,” explains Andrea Schwartz, vice president of media relations and cause marketing. “The letters will help make wishes come true for children that have life-threatening medical conditions. This is part of our Macy’s Believe campaign.”

During the holiday season, local children write letters to Santa and drop them in the big red mailbox at Macy’s stores in Merrillville and Calumet City. For every letter Santa gets, Macy’s will donate one dollar, up to $1 million, to the Make-A-Wish foundation.

Macy’s and Clothes4Souls have partnered again for the annual “Buy One & We’ll Donate One” campaign. Macy’s donates one new coat, up to 35,000 coats, to Clothes4Souls, for every coat purchased in the men’s, women’s, juniors’ and children’s outerwear departments at Macy’s stores and

Macy’s also participates in charitable events such as Red Dress pins that benefit women’s heart research.

“We are always open to helping the local communities we serve,” Schwartz says. “They are part of our family.”

Kohl’s Cares

Kohl’s Cares is an annual event where every purchase helps children. One hundred percent of the profits from the sales of Kohl’s Cares items are donated to children’s health and education initiatives nationwide. This year, Paddington and Curious George will be doing their part to help children.

Mark Wusik, store manager of the Kohl’s in Valparaiso, explains that local stores also reach out to the community and help those in need.

“We have a group of employees who will volunteer to come out and help a charity when they have an event,” Wusik explains. “For every hour one of our employees works for that charity, we will donate money to the cause. We write checks between $500 and $1,500 for each event.”

So far this year, the Valparaiso store has donated $23,000 to local charities such as Methodist Hospitals, Kappa Kappa Kappa, the Diocese of Gary, and the Flint Lake Elementary PTO.

“All Kohl’s stores are open to helping the community,” Wusik says. “If you are part of a 501c3, contact your local store. Kohl’s Cares is more than a catchy phrase. It’s how we get involved.”

A ‘Penney’s’ Worth of Care

JC Penney believes in building strong, vibrant communities by supporting what matters to them most. They invest time, money and effort in causes and charities that help support families and communities. They team with and support organizations that provide resources for families through the volunteer efforts of passionate and engaged employees.

It is worth every penny.

“Locally, we work quite a lot with the United Way and the Salvation Army,” explains David Juday, store manager of JC Penney in Valparaiso. “We conduct many fundraisers to local food banks that come to us through the United Way. We also create and distribute Senior Care Kits that contain toiletries for seniors. Many of them have trouble getting out in the winter, so we supply them with the necessities to help them.”

JC Penney conducts numerous Round Ups during the year. Customers round up to the nearest dollar, and JC Penney donates the money to the American Cancer Society and the local Boys and Girls Clubs.

“We always have some sort of charitable event going on,” Juday says. “And I say that with a lot of pride. Our employees live and work in this community, and they are always on the lookout for someone who needs our help.”

Jewel-Osco Feeds the Hungry

The Jewel-Osco Foundation works hand-in-hand with local nonprofit organizations to serve people in local neighborhoods.

Tanya Young is the store director for all 19 Jewel-Osco stores in the Indiana/Illinois area.

“Our stores work with local charities all year round,” Young says. “Each store reaches out to the organizations in their area. For example, the Chesterton store is currently working to provide Thanksgiving turkeys to the Westchester food bank.”

Young says that all of the stores also participate in Hunger Is, a program dedicated to eradicating hunger in America. In many of the local neighborhoods, one out of every five children does not know where his or her next meal is coming from. Jewel is working to eliminate the problem.

“Our employees volunteer to work on several events that will help feed local people,” she says. “In addition to working at charity events, our dedicated employees host fundraisers, such as Bowling for Charity events throughout the Region.”

Young explains that the work they do locally fits into Jewel’s corporate philosophy of giving back to the local communities.

“It’s important that our customers know that we are right there with them, working on our local issues together.”

Mattress Firm

Mattress Firm supports local foster children with their annual Foster Kids program. This year, the Secret Santa Toy Drive is dedicated to collecting toys for foster children nationwide, including local foster care communities.

World champion gymnast Simone Biles is the spokesperson and leader of the 2016 toy drive. She is working with Mattress Firm in an effort to break their record for most toys collected.

Local Mattress Firm stores participate in the event, so area residents can stop by at any Mattress Firm and donate toys to the Secret Santa drive through Dec. 18.

Mattress Firm believes all children should experience the joy and excitement of the holidays. But for foster children who have been separated from family, friends and familiar faces, the holidays can be an especially difficult and lonely time. Something as simple as a special gift that shows someone cares can make a world of difference.

Mattress Firm encourages everyone to bring a donation of new and unwrapped gifts to a location near you, and help keep the holiday spirit alive for local foster children.

“National chain” does not mean that locals are forgotten—quite the opposite. The people who work in those local stores are neighbors, friends and family, and they do everything they can to help out right where we all live.