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posted: 12/9/2013 5:30 AM

Elk Grove CEO aims to stamp out hunger for kids

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  • Jamie Pritscher

      Jamie Pritscher

  • Sean O'Dell

      Sean O'Dell

  • Heidi Schuster

      Heidi Schuster

  • Nina Pregont

      Nina Pregont

 
 

Jamie Pritscher, co-founder and CEO of Elk Grove-based ThatsCaring.com aims to help eliminate hunger among schoolchildren.

Pritscher and her team have revamped the focus of ThatsCaring.com, the environmentally and socially responsible gift giving company. It will continue to provide gifts for sale, but this time it will also give what they call Weekend Bags of food to children in need. The bags are filled with items such as granola bars, cereal, oatmeal, canned fruits and vegetables, ravioli, macaroni and cheese, juice boxes, and pudding. Items that children love and that also give them the nutrition they need.

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Their efforts have started with Elk Grove Junior High. Pritscher said the school was chosen because of a large amount of kids who are in need.

"This is our home community, a place where many of us have lived for our whole lives, and it just feels right to give back to the community in which our business resides," said Pritscher. "Additionally, Cook County has the 4th largest population of food-insecure households in the nation, so we know we are helping to fight hunger in a county where hunger issues are at their worst."

Grove Junior High in particular was chosen to pilot the program because members of the staff reached out to That's Caring about the issues with childhood, she said.

"We spoke with the social worker and he was willing to try this out. We have the highest of goals -- with the support of generous donors and supportive customers -- to expand into other schools in Cook County and eventually nationwide," Pritscher said.

The firm is also looking at other markets and schools/social workers in those markets.

The company has worked with social enterprises and nonprofits to use items they made for their gift baskets, so they had the charity component of the business covered. Unfortunately, many social enterprises and nonprofits started closing their doors.

"It was heartbreaking to see and after a while we figured there had to be a better way to give back and truly make an impact in a life," Pritscher said. "With the help of a board of advisers, we took apart the current business model, looked at the highly competitive gift basket market, researched a ton of causes and ultimately selected a cause that ties in nicely to food gift baskets, which is to help hunger. It was truly devastating to learn about all the children in food insecure households. "

That's Caring has 10 employees who work throughout the year, but in peaks and valleys. Gifts are a very seasonal business with 70 percent of orders coming during the holiday season, Pritscher said.

Missionary is new director

Michael J. Rodewald starts June 1 as the new executive director of the Lutheran Bible Translators in Aurora. He has served as regional director of LCMS World Missions in Africa, Johannesburg, South Africa, He succeeds Marshall R. Gillam who is retiring at the end of the month after 17 years, including 14 years as executive director. For 28 years, Rodewald and his wife, Cindy, served together as LBT missionaries in Liberia, Botswana, and South Africa, where he oversaw several translation and literacy projects, worked with partner organizations, and advanced the work of LBT. In his current role, Rodewald oversees and is responsible for Lutheran Church -- Missouri Synod mission projects on the African continent. Interim Executive Director David Snyder will fill in from Jan. 1 through May 31.

Associate tops in field

Carolyn Diesi, a sales associate with Century 21 Kreuser & Seiler in Libertyville, has earned the Century 21 System's Centurion Producer Award, on the level of their Oscars, for those who are dedicated to customer service.

FastTrack

David S. Fleming of Wheaton and a trademark attorney and shareholder in the Chicago office of intellectual property law firm Brinks Gilson & Lione, has been appointed counsel to the International Trademark Association for 2014. ... Kathy Mabe of Glenview has been promoted to president of in Allstate-s Business to Business. ...

Sean E. O'Dell, manager of the Infrastructure Department at Baxter & Woodman Inc consulting engineers in Crystal Lake, has graduated from the Illinois Public Service Institute.

Heidi Schuster of Palatine and Courtney Kleshinski of Chicago are new associates at the Lavelle Law Ltd. law firm in Palatine. ... Judith Linarez and Alejandra Pastranos have joined Advocate Good Shepherd Hospital in Barrington as in-person counselors for the Affordable Care Act The positions were made possible by a grant from the McHenry County Department of Health.

Josh Quail, a vice president/investment, has joined the Geneva office for St. Louis-based Stifel, Nicolaus & Co. ... Richard Floyd will be the new president of Advocate Lutheran General Hospital in Park Ridge starting Jan. 1. ... Nina Pregont has launched her private practice, Natural Expressions Naprapathy & Wellness LLC, a holistic health care facility in Algonquin. ... James Sibley is the new executive director of marketing and communications at Waubonsee Community College in Sugar Grove.

Will Kernahan of Winnetka is the new sales manager for Eagle Ridge Resort & Spa in Galena. ... Frank Carroll is the new general merchandise manager at Ace Hardware Corp., a retailer-owned hardware cooperative based in Oak Brook. ... Thomas Bean is the project executive for J.C. Anderson Inc. and Project Manager Dan Burnette are leading the construction team for the office build-out for L'Oreal in Deerfield.

•There's more to business than just the bottom line. We want to tell you about the people that make business work. Send news about people in business to akukec@dailyherald.com. Follow Anna Marie Kukec on LinkedIn and Facebook and as AMKukec on Twitter.

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