Big checks, charities and old-fasioned public relations

Last week David and I woke up bright and early to travel to the Kokomo Walmart. When I say early, I mean that I was at work by 6:30 which is probably the first time I’ve ever done that. It was all for a good cause though, because we were traveling to Kokomo to hand over $50,000 to some really deserving charities. Writing out four different $12,500 checks was also a first.

The need for the money in Kokomo was made apparent by a Facebook contest held in the spring to win money to combat hunger. The money went towards purchasing a refrigerated truck that will provide tons of food for the Kokomo area in the long run. In the short term, however, there’s still a great need to feed Kokomo’s hungry people. Luckily Walmart stepped back in to help, because the need was apparent to me after spending just a few short hours at the Kokomo Walmart.

The four organizations receiving the money couldn’t have been more different: The Salvation Army, Kokomo Rescue Mission, Samaritan Love Center Food Pantry and Zion Church. All of the organizations hold different values and serve a different purpose, but one thing they do have in common is the desire to fight hunger in their community. It was touching to see the way everyone came together despite differences in faith and belief to share their common goal. Many of the recipients spoke of hunger as an epidemic in their area, and I’ve never seen people so grateful to receive a check. In a world that can somet

imes seem so bleak and divided, the event was actually kind of refreshing.

It was also really inspiring to hear the way the store manager spoke of Walmart, and to see how enthusiastic he and the associates were about charity and goodwill. I had never been to a Walmart “big check” ceremony before, but it was surprising even to David when dozens of Walmart associates came to see the presentation and offer their support. Aside from the food donations they give out, the Kokomo Walmart associates volunteer their time together at charities in the area. I even got to see the Walmart Squiggle! I wouldn’t be caught dead doing a dance like that, but it was fun to watch. If you haven’t seen it, I suggest you give it a whirl on YouTube.

The final stop was to the Kokomo Tribune to do some good ol’ fashioned, face-to-face PR. The newspaper doesn’t normally cover presentations like that, so they didn’t send a reporter. But you know when you really want something you’ll do what it takes to get it? Well, we REALLY wanted some media attention from the Tribune. David and I went to speak to the Tribune’s editor, and explained that the real story isn’t the big check ceremony, which can be kind of dull. The real story comes from the organizations and the way they will spend the money to help those in need. The Tribune’s readers will be able to see how the contribution will help the community, and in some cases, themselves. We ended up with great front page coverage that highlighted the organizations and the ways they will continue to fight hunger.

As tired as I was, it was a good day and an experience I’m glad I had. I’ve said it before but it’s worth repeating, days spent away from the office and in the community are what I love best about public relations. In those instances, you’re truly relating to the public.


Kokomo Walmart manager Harold Kushniak addressing the crowd

Representatives from Kokomo Rescue Mission

Representatives from Zion Church

Representatives from Samaritan Love Center

Representatives from The Salvation Army

Representatives from all of the receiving organizations

Walmart Associates who came to see the “big check” presentation

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