GLENNVILLE, Ga. — Continuing its charitable causes push, Bland Farms LLC has added a third cause.
The grower-shipper supports St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, the Breast Cancer Research Foundation, and, for the first time, plans to corporately support the Fellowship of Christian Athletes.
Entering its fourth year of supporting the St. Jude’s effort, Bland plans to contribute to the cause as a company instead of promoting it through retail promotions. Unlike in previous years, Bland has removed the St. Jude’s logo from its onion bag labels.
Michael Hively, Bland’s chief financial officer and chief operating officer, said Bland continues to support the cause but didn’t want to confuse the reasons for corporate support of the charity.
“You have to look at the purpose behind it,” Hively said.
“Are you contributing to it for the marketing aspect or because you feel it’s a good cause? It’s something you can’t measure. It has to be giving from the heart. That’s how we approach these charitable organizations.”
Last season, Bland contributed $100,000 to St. Jude’s and $20,000 to the breast cancer cause.
This season will be the second year Bland plans to support the fight against breast cancer.
Sarah Seebran, marketing manager, called the promotion Bland conducted in October successful and said it generated strong response.
“We are having retailers ask about it again,” she said. “Last year, we had to open the doors, but this year, the doors are already open.”
Seebran said Bland plans to conduct a similar promotion this year using packaging and point-of-sale materials that discusses breast cancer.
In the Fellowship of Christian Athletes program, Bland plans to be a corporation sponsor of the program, which places mentors as coaches into schools. The cause remains an important one for Delbert Bland, Bland’s president, Seebran said.
Because of varying retail onion prices and the comparatively small margins shippers earn on sales, Seebran said Bland prefers to make flat contributions as a corporation. Bland workers also contribute, she said.
“Effecting change can mean something not just to our retailers but for our customers as well,” Seebran said.
“Sandra and Delbert Bland have been passionate about St. Jude’s for a long time. Delbert loves sports and children, so the Fellowship of Christian Athletes is another good cause that affects them.”
Seebran said breast cancer affects many people and said she recently spoke on the telephone with a woman working in the Georgia agriculture industry who has breast cancer. She said the woman’s mother was recently diagnosed with the cancer.
Bland remains passionate about such causes and tries to find ways it can give back to the people who buy its onions, Seebran said.
Though Bland receives many requests to support different charitable causes, Hively said Bland decided to narrow its financial contributions to the top three causes it wants to support.
Bland normally accounts for about half of the Vidalia onion volume. This season, Bland expects to pack 2 million 40-pound cartons from 4,300 acres of its own and other growers’.