story & photo
by Vito J. Leo
Plenty of people get their picture in the paper after doing some outstanding service for fellow members of their community. Very few get their picture on a box of Cheerios. But that was one of the rewards enjoyed by ShopRite of New London employees JoAnn Primett, florist, Ledyard, and Nicki Jennings, Assistant Store Director, Uncasville.
The two women were among the ShopRite associates honored on 125,000 limited-edition Cheerios boxes for their store’s commitment to fighting hunger in their local community through the ShopRite Partners In Caring program.
Nicki, an associate at ShopRite for the past eight years, said she and JoAnn spearheaded their store’s fundraising efforts in conjunction with a chain-wide contest sponsored by ShopRite and General Mills in support of National Hunger Action Month in September. ShopRite associates raised more than $290,000 during a two-week contest by offering $1 donation cards to customers at checkout, constructing displays to bring awareness to the issue of hunger, and holding in-store events to support the cause.
“Everybody that works here, especially the young people, got behind us. They were all very enthusiastic, especially when they were out there selling hot dogs,” Nicki said, referring to the various fund-raising events sponsored by the store and implemented by the ShopRite employees.
The New London store and 29 other ShopRite locations on the eastern seaboard had one or two associates pictured on this specially prepared package of Cheerios, available exclusively at ShopRite stores. The box was unveiled in a special ceremony at the ShopRite of New London on Thursday, March 26th.
Ten local heroes are also featured alongside the 61 ShopRite associates on the box. ShopRite and General Mills teamed up for the “10 Years – 10 Heroes” contest, a search for ten local heroes – five children and five adults - who actively engage in the fight against hunger. Among the winners is Mystic’s own, Bill Pere, founder of Local United Network to Combat Hunger (LUNCH), a non-profit organization that blends Arts, Education, and Community Outreach to address issues of hunger and poverty through awareness and financial support
Community commitment is an integral part of the way the Capano Family operates their two wholly owned ShopRite stores in New London and Norwich.
For instance, each week members of the produce department at ShopRite in New London cull out about 75 pounds of fruits and vegetables that are too ripe to sell and donate the still edible food to the Mystic Aquarium & Institute for Exploration (MAIE).
This partnership not only gives the fish a more diverse diet but it saves MAIE about $15,000 a year in food costs and cuts down on the area’s waste stream.
“We were happy to help,” said Ken Capano, Jr., vice president of the New London and Norwich ShopRite stores. “Supporting local organizations and businesses – especially those like the Aquarium, who give so much back to the community – is always a priority for ShopRite.” ShopRite also regularly donates food to local shelters and food pantries.