For Sandie Karr and Sharon Sevier, analysts on the transaction monitoring team for Kroger corporate asset protection, the simple desires of the people they’ve helped has made a lasting impression. The 25-member team adopts a family in the Cincinnati area every holiday season, making presents possible when they otherwise wouldn’t be. They’ve helped a family devastated by a house fire and a single mom with several children facing poverty. Often, they’ve learned, it doesn’t take much to make holiday wishes come true.
“One time, the kids had a snap bracelet on their Christmas lists, which is something that’s maybe $1.99, and that kind of struck a chord with me,” said Sevier. “Just how really small the wants are sometimes.” Sandy Karr said she’s been moved by the same thing, noting how one single mother’s entire holiday season was changed simply by making it possible for her to provide a holiday feast for her family.
The AP team’s community outreach effort began in 2010 when a manager suggested helping a local family in need instead of staff exchanging gifts. It now includes fundraising efforts during the year—the Christmas in July car wash is the big one—so they can make a substantial difference in a family’s life come the holidays. “It started small, but every year it ends up going so well, and people just feel so good helping, that we are moved to do a little more and a little better the following year,” said Karr.
It also gives the AP team a chance to interact with the community in a different way than they normally do, noted Sevier. “In AP you kind of see more of the bad side of things the rest of the year, so it’s really uplifting to make a positive difference for a family every year,” she said. “It also really drives our team spirit, to provide that help and support to the community.”
The AP team’s holiday giving program doesn’t have Kroger’s brand attached to it, but the company supports it fully, and it fits in with the company’s long history of helping the communities they serve. In addition to substantial direct charity giving, Kroger Community Rewards links its loyalty card with local charities, helping people donate to the local organizations they support through their everyday shopping. A few years back, Kroger’s efforts scored it the top ranking in a Chronicle of Philanthropy listing detailed in Forbes magazine that recognizes American companies that give back the most.
The AP team’s holiday charitable effort is its most significant, but members also participate in other initiatives that include adopting a local public-school class and food and clothing drives. “I know everyone from AP realizes how important it is to help out, and from a company standpoint, Kroger is always ready to give back and support whatever stores or departments do to help,” said Sevier.
“It makes me proud to be working for Kroger as a company, to provide that uplift to our customers,” said Kevin Larson, CFI, senior manager of asset protection and transaction monitoring. But even if giving back is not part of a company’s culture, he believes it’s a responsibility of the LP profession. “I think it’s important for every department to be involved in projects to help our communities and support charities,” said Larson. “There is no reason they shouldn’t be.”
This article originally ran as a sidebar to the March-April print feature “Getting in on the “Good” Thing: Sustainability Is All the Rage in Retail. Where Does LP Fit In?”