For each of the past 17 years, Jim and Debbie Gillenwater, Bill and Lora Robertson and their nine restaurants have raised money for the community support program Crusade for Children. As a multi-unit franchisee of McAlister’s Deli®, their efforts have resulted in thousands of dollars raised to supports agencies, schools and hospitals that support special-needs children. Each year, Heritage makes a yearly contribution to Crusade for Children. What started as a dedication to give back to the local community when the first Heritage McAlister’s opened in the Louisville area has now evolved into a longstanding commitment held by all of their locations.
“Franchisees like Jim and Bill perfectly exemplify the spirit of community that McAlister’s Deli has to offer,” said Paul Macaluso, McAlister's president. “McAlister’s Deli believes our neighborhood restaurants offer more than a place to eat, they are community gathering places, each with their own story to tell, where people can linger and enjoy the comfort of great food in great company. It’s through our community gathering places that each restaurant and franchisee are able to not just be in the community, but truly part of it. McAlister’s encourages each restaurant to find the community campaign that resonates with them and their guests, and take the genuine hospitality and service offered in their restaurants out of their four walls and directly to those in need.”
Because of the work of franchisees like the Gillenwaters and Robertsons, and the environment McAlister’s creates to make such charitable acts easier to facilitate, the IFA awarded McAlister’s and Heritage Enterprises the Silver Award in the Enduring Impact category at the 2017 “Franchising Gives Back” ceremony. Designed to celebrate stories of how the franchising community is leading the commitment to give back to communities, finalists are selected by a panel of judges representing the IFA and IFA Educational Foundational leadership. To qualify for the Enduring Impact Award, an IFA member has to execute an outstanding charitable or community-support program for at least five consecutive years.
Heritage’s McAlister’s Deli restaurants have been able to make a meaningful contribution each year, with all proceeds benefiting Crusade for Children. McAlister’s is one of Crusade for Children’s longest standing and largest donating business partners, with a grand total impact of $802,582 over 17 years. The total donation in 2017 of $65,794 was the largest donation by a restaurant and 8th highest overall organization donation. These efforts have helped Crusade for Children reach more than $5.5 million dollars in 2017, a grand total of more than $175 million raised since Crusade for Children’s inception. Those donations support organizations in all 120 Kentucky counties and more than 50 Southern Indiana counties, and they have impacted the lives of millions of children over the years.
“We are proud and honored to have franchisees that give back to their communities in such an impactful way,” said Macaluso. “We want to continue to grow and thrive in a way that supports being a local partner, and the Heritage Enterprises example is an exemplary approach to the kind of values we want to promote and live.”