National Baking Company launches foundation
Already well known for its philanthropic efforts, National Baking Company formally launched its foundation yesterday.
National CEO Gary 'Butch' Hendrickson said giving back started with his grandmother who would pack little brown paper bags at Christmas time to give to the needy. Giving back was something he saw his parents continue to do. The motto was simple, 'we can (give), so we do'.
"Thankfully, due to our wonderful consumer base, really, really great customers, we can donate more than ever before. And so we will," he said. "I believe it is important that those of us who can, do."
And National Baking Company has done much. The company has donated to some 25 charitable organisations including Food For The Poor, in which it invested more than $20 million in supplying school furniture.
Hendrickson is the patron of the foundation, while fellow businessman Brian Jardim will serve as chairman.
Christine Scott-Brown will be the foundation's executive director.
National also used the event to announce its continued partnership with Crayons Count, for which it is the biggest sponsor.
Since its inception, more than 2,500 schools have benefited from resources offered through the programme. National has invested more than $200 million to Crayons Count and the foundation is fully involved in importing, packing and distributing the learning materials and operating the mobile unit of Crayons Count, the Learning Lorry.
Founder of Crayons Count, Deika Morrison, said despite the name, it was much more than just crayons. "There are 13 categories of learning tools in the kit," she explained, including paint brushes, scissors and puzzles. "They look like toys, they are a lot more than toys. Each tool has a developmental element and educational objective. Each tool serves a purpose."
Since 2012, Crayons Count has donated nearly 650,000 crayons, thousands of other items, hosted nearly 3,000 teachers in its workshops, conducted a successful summer-school programme, focusing on social skills and manners and hosted numerous events for parents and children.
Kerry-Ann Ennis-Henry, early-childhood consultant with Crayons Count, said parents, teachers and students were "eternally grateful" for the programme. She said persons even send samples of children's work, and pictures of them using the tools.
"They (teachers) are excited. From the moment they get the call (to join the workshops), they are ready to go. They respond well in the sessions, they are eager to learn, and they are eager to go back into the classroom and learn the things that they practise in the workshops." Ennis-Henry said the teachers, parents and children all wanted more of Crayons Count.
"Teachers have begun to see the bigger picture, that of nation building. That is ultimately what Crayons Count is about, and that is ultimately what National Baking Company is about," she said. "Crayons Count has changed the landscape of early-childhood education."
The National Baking Company Foundation donates the majority of the learning tools used by Crayons Count. In addition, the company sponsors the Crayons Count page in the Saturday Gleaner and raises awareness of early-childhood education through branded National/Crayons Count vehicles and bread bags.