Freddie Meyer Comes Through

BEAR HUG–Children from the Moore Street Corps day care clamor around the kettle while Fred Meyer mascot “Fred Bear” looks on.


by Kirsten Lucas Kaufman – 

On a drizzly day in late November, a dozen children from The Salvation Army’s Moore Street Corps and Community Center day care program arrived at a local Fred Meyer store clutching paper “coins” and pocket change. They were greeted by a big stuffed teddy bear, a shiny red kettle and an expectant group of adults.

Beaming with pride, the children placed their coins in the kettle–just as they learned to do in a special coloring book created by Fred Meyer Stores and The Salvation Army to teach children about how “sharing is caring.”

In an effort to make Christmas 1999 the best of the century, the Cascade Division’s Office of Development tapped longtime holiday partner Fred Meyer Stores to help Portland-area children learn about the importance of sharing with others.

The result is a fun-filled coloring book titled “Fred Bear & the Mysterious Gold Coin,” which is the heart of the “Coins from Kids” campaign. Fred Meyer Stores produced and distributed 30,000 free copies of the coloring book through its Portland-area stores.

“The historic partnership between Fred Meyer Stores and The Salvation Army is truly an alliance for the millennium,” says Major Kurt Burger, Cascade divisional commander. “We applaud Fred Meyer for expanding its traditional corporate contributions to include this innovative effort to teach children–in a fun way–about the importance of sharing with others.”

In the coloring book, children follow Fred Bear on an adventure to discover who is putting a special gold coin in the Army kettle. Along the way, they discover the many good things sharing brings about in our community. Children who deposit paper coins from the coloring book into the kettles receive a special thank-you card from The Salvation Army’s holiday “angels.”

“This new learning experience to teach children about philanthropy has been a great opportunity for Fred Meyer and The Salvation Army to encourage the community to close out the 20th century at a new level of caring,” says Mary Sammons, President and CEO of Fred Meyer Stores.

The coloring book and related “Coins from Kids” campaign represent the latest fruit of a holiday partnership that spans more than seven decades and produces the largest annual donation of new merchandise received by the Cascade Division.

When Portland grocer Fred G. Meyer made his first donation to The Salvation Army in the 1920s, it was measured in loaves of bread and pounds of sugar, then hauled away in the modern-day equivalent of a small pickup. Today, Mr. Meyer is gone, but his legacy of giving to the Army lives on in an annual donation of food, clothes, toys and housewares which is measured–not in loaves and pounds–but in tons and trailer loads.

In 1999, Fred Meyer’s holiday donation include hauling more than two dozen truck and trailer loads of merchandise over 6,400 miles of highway to Salvation Army centers and charities in 23 cities in six Western states. (The estimated value of this year’s donation will not be available until early next year.)

“The Salvation Army’s 70-plus year partnership with Fred Meyer is an outstanding example of how respect and trust for each other can enhance and grow the ways we work together,” says Judith Nichols, chief development officer for the Cascade Division. “We appreciate Fred Meyer’s willingness to consider new avenues and to take the initiative in finding additional opportunities to promote charitable giving.”

For many years, Fred G. Meyer, who was well-known for his personal charitable work in the community, served on the Army’s Portland Advisory Board. The Salvation Army was the only named organization in his will, according to Rowanne Haley, City Programs Coordinator.

“I believe that his spirit and desires remain alive today in the close partnership that continues to exist between the two organizations,” she says. “The Salvation Army has always been able to count on the generosity of Fred Meyer Stores, whether it is providing scheduled assistance, like the large annual Christ-mas time donation, meeting an emergency need like cleaning supplies during the flood of 1996, or helping us with the long-term objective of fostering a new generation of philanthropists for the next millennium.”

Fred Meyer is based in Portland, Ore., and features 139 large multi-department stores in six western states that offer one-stop shopping for a wide range of food, apparel and general merchandise products. Fred Meyer is part of the Kroger Co, which is the largest food retailer in the United States.

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