Schools, grocery partner

McCORDSVILLE — The conversations began about six months ago.

As construction of the newly opened Meijer neared completion, store officials contacted Mt. Vernon educators about making a donation in celebration of the store’s grand opening on Broadway Street in McCordsville.

This week, store director Tim Snyder handed Mt. Vernon Superintendent Shane Robbins a $25,000 check, the start of a community partnership store officials said is a long-standing part of the Meijer mission. The funding will go toward college savings plans for incoming kindergartners, Robbins said.

Local residents applauded Meijer’s opening this week and arrived in droves to put their hard-earned dollars toward the food, clothing and homegoods available at the superstore; meanwhile, store officials were already finalizing a number of efforts to return some of that goodwill. Donating time and money to those who support the business is an important part of Meijer’s commitment to the community, Snyder said.

Nationally, Meijer donates more than 6 percent of its net profit to charitable organizations annually. Each of its stores, for example, works with local food pantries to help fight hunger at the local level, a news release states.

Since 2008, the retailer’s Simply Give program has generated more than $28 million for its food pantry partners throughout the Midwest, according to a news release. As part of the Simply Give program, shoppers purchase gift cards for area food pantries; for every dollar donated, Meijer matches it, Snyder said.

Three times a year, the company steps up those efforts; giving $2 for every $1 shoppers donate.

The Sharing Place, a food pantry in Lawrence, will be the local recipient of those gift cards, Snyder said. Staff will be able to use the cards at Meijer to purchase the items needed for the families the food pantry serves, he said.

The store also has plans to donate food items to Gleaners Food Bank in Indianapolis, which provides food to pantries across 21 counties, including the Hancock County Food Pantry.

Beyond donating to efforts that help feed hungry families, Meijer looks for other ways to be involved in the community, officials said.

It’s not unusual for the stores to make large donations to organizations, Snyder said. As staff members passed off a check to Mt. Vernon this week, a similar gesture was ongoing at the new Meijer store in Franklin, where staff there presented a $25,000 check to Johnson County Senior Services and Food Pantry, a news release states.

Donating to the Hancock County Promise — a local effort that encourages parents to open 529 college savings plans for their kindergarten children — was the perfect choice for the store’s first major contribution, Snyder said.

“Educating the future is very important to us,” he said.

Robbins said Meijer’s donation helps ensure kindergartners for the next five years have an opportunity to earn $25 toward their college savings accounts.

He also hopes to work with the store to create work opportunities for Mt. Vernon students, he said.

“They’re going to be an amazing partner for our community,” he said.

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Samm Quinn is a reporter at the Greenfield Daily Reporter. She can be reached at 317-477-3275 or squinn@greenfieldreporter.com.