Suffolk foundation helps children in need

Published 12:00 am Friday, September 24, 2004

Golden State Foods’ employees have dug deep into their pockets for the last two years, raising more than $55,000 to benefit the community’s children.

&uot;We want to improve the quality of life for children and their families in the area where GSF employees live and work,&uot; said Bobby Wood, administrative manager at the company located in Wilroy Industrial Park. &uot;That’s very important to us.&uot;

So in 2002, working in concert with its corporate office, the company – a regional distributor of products used at McDonald’s restaurants – established the Golden State Foods Foundation.

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Thus far, employee contributions made through payroll deductions and special fund-raising projects have made up 50 percent of the fund. After the company-matched employee contributions, the foundation has raised a total of $56,000.

Half of the money raised by the GSF Foundation has been given to the Ronald McDonald House in Norfolk, Wood said. Also, employees often volunteer at the Norfolk facility where families of children hospitalized in Children’s Hospital of Kings Daughters can stay for extended periods.

The rest of the money is invested in the Suffolk community, all to charities that directly benefit children.

Locally, the Children’s Center -in the process of a capital campaign to expand its Wilroy Road site – has received the most funding, Wood said. Last month, the foundation gave $5,000 to the help the center add a pediatric therapy center.

Others who have reaped the benefits of the foundation’s generosity include the Make-A-Wish Foundation, EdMarc Hospice, March of Dimes and the annual Spring Fling at Elephant’s Fork Elementary School.

All the charities that GSF helps are recommended by employees, said Wayne Luter, operations manager at GSF.

Unlike many foundations, GSF distributes nearly 100 percent of the money that comes in each year.

&uot;Our employees like to see their money being used,&uot; Luter said. &uot;It is given out on a case by case basis.&uot;

For the first time, the GSF Foundation is expanding its fund-raising efforts outside the company.

The foundation is sponsoring &uot;Breakfast in the Park&uot; at 9 a.m. Oct. 16, a 2.5-mile walk-a-thon to raise money for the organization, at Sleepy Hole Park.

So far, 23 teams of walkers will make the trek through the park, said Luter.

&uot;We’re hoping it will become an annual event to make the foundation grow,&uot; said Wood.

&uot;We are also going out into the community and talking to our business partners to solicit money for the foundation.&uot;

People interested in making tax-deductible donations to the foundation or participating in the walk-a-thon should call GSF employee Linda Armstrong at 538-8058.