Helping On Many Fronts
Story by Trace Shelton of Instore Magazine
With 132 store locations to manage, Samuels Jewelers could hardly be blamed if it stuck to a basic, no-frills approach to charitable giving. But the organization feels so strongly about the Jewelers for Children cause, it’s gone the opposite direction, leveraging its streamlined business approach and multiple stores to go above and beyond to raise money for the charity.
“Children are innocent and need the support, care and devotion of families and organizations such as JFC to assist when difficult times arise,” says Steve Velasquez, vice-president of administration and special projects for Gitanjali USA, the company that operates the Samuels stores. “This is also a worthwhile cause that everyone in our organization can relate to, get behind, and participate in. Everyone has had or knows of experiences and examples where the support of children in need made a difference in a family’s life.”
In order to make the biggest possible difference, Samuels has implemented several initiatives to support Jewelers for Children. Every store participates in the donation canister program, but additionally, the Samuels POS system includes a prompt at the end of each transaction displaying the request: “Would you like to donate one dollar to Jewelers for Children?” The customer can then donate with cash, credit card, or check. “It opens a dialogue about the charity and many customers donate more than the one dollar request,” says Velasquez.
Because employees were so passionate about the JFC cause, the Samuels management team developed a system that allows employees to donate directly through a bi-weekly payroll deduction. But as with any retail organization, much of the money raised for charity comes from customers themselves. One of the most successful promotions for Samuels has been the “Sammy Bear.” The stuffed teddy bears, all labeled with the name “Sammy,” have been offered during holiday buying seasons like Christmas (with a Santa hat) or Valentine’s (holding a red heart). The Sammy Bears are promoted in catalogs and on signage in the stores, encouraging customers to purchase the bear along with any jewelry purchase made. All of the profits from the sale of these bears were donated to JFC.
Last but not least, Samuels has held an annual car show event near its headquarters in Austin, Texas, that benefits JFC. Gitanjali executives Lou Menendez and Dan Ramirez, both avid classic car enthusiasts, organized the event. The event raised money through entry fees for car owners to have their cars judged for awards, entry fees for spectators to view the historic cars, food and drink fees at concession stands, T-shirt sales commemorating the event, raffle tickets for prizes donated from local businesses, and donation jars. All profits from these highly successful events have gone to JFC.
Why has Samuels chosen Jewelers for Children as its primary charity? In large part, because of the variety of incredible organizations that it supports, which includes Make-A-Wish Foundation, the National CASA Association, St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, and the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatrics AIDS Foundation. “JFC has taken the charge to help children on many different fronts, and that commitment has struck a chord with us,” says Velasquez. “Being in the jewelry business, we appreciate being part of our customers’ happiest occasions. We are proud to support an organization that is giving back to those families that have shared their lives with us and an organization that is striving to make those family lives even happier.”