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
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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.
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