Improving Your Business through Improving Your Community

Written By:
Kristin E. Blake
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Remember the phrase, “When life hands you lemons, make lemonade”? When a couple’s four-year-old daughter was diagnosed with cancer, the young girl set out to begin a lemonade stand to raise money for all children with cancer. Her passionate enthusiasm and spirited zeal helped raise over one million dollars to fight cancer and inspired the birth of a children’s cancer foundation, Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation. This small, simple act illuminated the hearts of many; including other kids who began their own lemonade stands to help kids with cancer.

How does this affect you, the retailer? Millions of businesses in the United States give back to the community in some way. But kids, from four-year-olds to college students, can be the most vocal and most eager when making a difference in other's lives. By working on a project with children using a product from your store, you are engaging kids in a caring act and igniting an interest in the natural/organic world. Not to mention, continuing the solid, positive reputation of your store.

How can you help? There are plenty of ways! Sell organic cookie dough in your store? Gather a group of children and create and bake festive, tummy-satisfying cookies to donate to a nursing home or senior citizens’ club. Some of these residents or members can’t always see their families and spend the holidays alone. A selfless gesture like this will surely warm their hearts and stomachs while leaving you and the kids with a satisfying smile and an inspired spirit.

Almost every town or area has an animal shelter. Is your store near one? Try beginning a fundraiser that and let kids  help. Place a plastic bin at the entrance and exit doors of your store where donations can be left. Ask children with unwanted stuffed-animals and parents who have old towels or blankets lying around the house to fill the bins. These things can provide much comfort to homeless animals living in a cold, stainless-steel cage at a shelter. If you sell natural/organic pet food, donate a bag or two to show kids how everyone can help make an animal’s life better!

Or, maybe you have leftover catalogs and magazines collecting dust and cluttering your shelves. Invite a Girl Scouts troop over to craft colorful, exciting collages from these magazines and turn them into thoughtful cards. Then, donate the cards to a local hospital where children and adults alike can receive a kind word and a ray of hope. As an added bonus, you are helping the environment by transforming these unwanted magazines into masterpieces instead of trash.

Where can you find kids to jump on board? Children’s groups are everywhere! Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts are always searching for different projects to complete to receive various badges for their vests or sashes. Try a local youth group that may be looking for activities that help someone in need. Elementary schools, high schools and even colleges, have clubs that promote community service and outreach. Call or e-mail your local newspaper or search the World Wide Web for contact information for these groups.

In the well-known fable of The Lion and the Mouse, Aesop writes, “No act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted.” Inspire and work with kids to make your community a better place and to put a smile on someone’s face!

Published in WholeFoods Magazine Online, May 2011 (online 3/22/11/)