Safeway making a difference here, around the country | April 6, 2012 | Pleasanton Weekly | |

Pleasanton Weekly

Column - April 6, 2012

Safeway making a difference here, around the country

by Jeb Bing

Charitable giving is an imbedded part of business plans at most large companies, but I've never seen it flourish with such excitement and public celebration as at Safeway. The country's No. 2 grocer (after Kroger) is headquartered here and often uses its two Pleasanton supermarkets to launch not only new products but also its national, regional and local charitable campaigns, ranging from donating to Open Heart Kitchen and the Alameda County Food Bank locally to national fundraisers for breast cancer research and Easter Seals.

Its sponsorship of special events for other charitable organizations adds to its reputation as one of the country's leading corporations with a priority focus on corporate social responsibility. Here at the Pleasanton Weekly, our annual Holiday Fund benefits from Safeway's support of the Tri-Valley Community Foundation, which provides matching funds to our campaign each year.

Last Tuesday, several hundred crowded into the new Safeway Lifestyle store on Bernal Avenue to join executives, employees and celebrities as the grocer launched its annual campaign in support of people with disabilities and to benefit Easter Seals and Special Olympics. There on stage just down a few hundred feet from the checkout stands were singer Avril Lavigne, two-time Super Bowl winner and 49ers legend Dwight Clark and KNBR's sports anchor Brian Murphy, who also served as the ceremony's emcee. This year's campaign got under way Tuesday and customers can join in by contributing at any Safeway checkout stand through the month of April. Over the years, Safeway's support of organizations that help people with disabilities live fuller lives has totaled over $130 million.

When customers enter any Safeway, Vons, Pavilions, Tom Thumb, Randalls, Dominick's or Carrs store through April 30, they should look for the "Behind the Scenes with April Lavigne" signs near each store's entrance, grab a tear-card from the sign and take it to a checkout stand to make a $5 donation to support services for children and adults living with disabilities. When you do that, you'll be given a coupon and code to view exclusive videos of Lavigne on tour, including her visits to Easter Seals programs for kids with disabilities. Safeway VP Larree Renda, who chairs the Safeway Foundation, introduced Lavigne at Tuesday's campaign launch to the loud applause of her fans, who later made their way to the Bernal store's poster for a tear-card to make a donation.

Also on board Tuesday was Brady Lum, president and chief operating officer of the Special Olympics. He noted that Safeway not only sponsors the annual campaigns to help those with disabilities, but it also employs thousands of people with disabilities. James E. Williams Jr., president and chief executive of Easter Seals, agreed, thanking customers and employees for helping Easter Seals made a significant difference. That generated enthusiastic waves from some 40 Safeway employees with disabilities who filled several rows of chairs in the audience.

Safeway, by the way, was just named one of the 2012 "World's Most Ethical Companies" by the Ethisphere Institute, a think tank dedicated to the creation, advancement and sharing of best practices in business ethics, corporate social responsibility, anti-corruption and sustainability efforts. These are the kind of companies that we're proud can call Pleasanton home.