Store Managers Take The Lead In Volunteering


When it comes to volunteering and community service, some companies put forth a token effort, but Louisville, Ky.-based Thorntons Inc. has taken steps to truly integrate the spirit of giving with company leadership, and therefore into the company itself.

It all starts on a local level, as Thorntons encourages its team members to volunteer for the organizations and charities they feel most passionately about, and they offer their time and talent to community improvement projects and fundraising activities. Past local activities Thorntons employees have supported include Toys for Tots, Race for the Cure, Polar Plunge for Special Olympics, Conquer Cancer Bike Ride and Boy Scouts of America.

In 2010, Thorntons developed two new companywide volunteer programs. For the first, it partnered with Louisville's Dare to Care food bank. As part of Thorntons' core leadership development program, each new store manager now attends a leadership session at the company's Corporate University, where they participate in an educational session conducted by Dare to Care and learn about the need for food in their local markets, the impact malnutrition has on children, and organizations the managers can support when they return to their stores. Participants sort and pack food products for Dare to Care to distribute, as well.

Senior Thorntons leadership and new hires also work side by side to help local families. The team reaction to the program has been so strong that it even prompted the Chicago region to seek out a local food bank where managers spent a day packing 20,568 meals, enough to feed 73 children for a year.

Thorntons' second new project had the company partnering with the American Red Cross and the Commander at Fort Knox to support U.S. troops and their families. A team of 300 Thorntons employees supplied and assembled 100 bicycles for children of soldiers, and supplied and packed 3,500 care packages for troops who were deployed the following January.

A follow-up event during which team members will pack 5,500 care packages and assemble 200 bicycles is scheduled for this month. Thorntons doesn't forget those soldiers once the care packages are shipped, either. After several Fort Knox soldiers were injured following deployment, the company worked with the Red Cross to provide them with personal hygiene items during their treatment.

Along with volunteering team members' time, Thorntons puts its money where its mouth is by donating approximately $350,000 annually to support organizations such as The Community Foundation of Louisville, Prevent Blindness Kentucky, and Operation Brightside. To ensure it makes a long-term difference, Thorntons also makes multi-year commitments of between $100,000 and $150,000 to organizations such as the Louisville Zoo Foundation and Friends of World Hunger.

— Angela Hanson

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