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The benefits of corporate philanthropy

Published 9:25pm Thursday, June 6, 2013

Some companies really get it when it comes to corporate responsibility and community citizenship. Suffolk is blessed to have a large number of generous companies that seek to make a real difference in their hometowns. The late Amedeo Obici, who founded Planters Peanuts and helped put Suffolk on the map because of his business savvy, remains legendary in this community even more for his philanthropy than for the company he built.

But corporate philanthropy neither began nor ended with Amedeo Obici. Many Suffolk businesses commit themselves to profiting their community, along with their investors. Whether they put together teams for the Relay for Life, contribute to the United Way, clean up rivers or roads, encourage employees to volunteer or donate funds to one or more of the many nonprofit organizations working to help improve the quality of life in Suffolk, these companies are helping to build the true community here.

Massimo Zanetti, the coffee-processing plant located in Suffolk’s Wilroy Industrial Park, is a great example of such charitable thinking. During Employee Appreciation Week, the company encourages employees to do something to give back to the community, and this year the employees decided to really ramp up their contribution, donating a wooden playset, five bicycles and a $3,500 check.

The check supports the work of the Roc Solid Foundation, whose mission is to build hope for childhood cancer victims by providing playsets, and making other contributions to improve the lives of those children and their parents. The playsets and bicycles also went to support the organization’s mission, having been bought especially for 5-year-old Shaniyah Winfield and her family. Shaniyah is in the maintenance phase of treatment for acute lymphoblastic leukemia, but that doesn’t mean she won’t be able to enjoy having a bicycle. In fact, she wasted little time this week getting used to riding on it after having her new wheels presented to her by Massimo Zanetti employees.

The smile on Shaniyah’s face as she pedaled around on her new pink bicycle isn’t the kind of thing that can be measured on an accounting spreadsheet, but it’s just the kind of thing that makes employees feel they’re doing something worthwhile for someone other than their investors. And that’s one of the bonuses of corporate philanthropy that savvy companies like Massimo Zanetti have come to understand.

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