Hannaford Supermarkets has donated $80,000 to Boys & Girls Clubs across Vermont, with the Rutland County branch receiving $20,000.
The grants are from the Hannaford Charitable Foundation, according to the company, and are aimed at helping parents manage child care and remote learning during the pandemic.
Vermont’s $80,000 is part of a larger granting effort spread across the five states Hannaford operates in, said Todd Bullen, vice president of retail operations at Hannaford Supermarkets. All told, $400,000 was donated.
“For me it was this pleasant surprise out of nowhere; they didn’t have any preamble, it was just, here’s this big check,” said David Woolpy, executive director of the Boys & Girls Club of Rutland County.
He said the money came with few strings, allowing his organization to apply it as needed.
Woolpy has been executive director of the club since July, having come from another Boys & Girls Club. He said this is an especially large donation.
“When it comes to a corporate donation like that, I would characterize it as very generous, it’s way above average,” he said.
He said the club lost much of its income when the pandemic caused attendance to drop. It was able to keep its doors open, but this grant has allowed it to undertake some upgrades, such as new furniture, a new bumper-pool table, Chromebooks for children who don’t have access to them, and increasing the club’s internet bandwidth for when it serves as a remote-education site.
“During this traumatic time, Hannaford has made all the difference,” he stated in a release by Hannaford. “Their stunning donation of $20,000 to the Boys & Girls Club of Rutland County helped us offset the most difficult time in our history. We continue to meet COVID-19 challenges and we (give) thanks to places like Hannaford.”
According to Bullen, while there’s criteria that must be met for a place to receive a grant from the company, there are few strings attached to the money. The company is aware that the needs vary from place to place and wanted the awards to be flexible.
“This particular donation is all about the increased need for standard child-care programs, or any of the other things families might need during the pandemic over the last 10 months and ongoing,” he said. “So the organizations targeted are the ones that provided parents and caregivers with the peace of mind and security that their children are being cared for in a safe, healthy, supportive environment.”
He said most recipients were Boys & Girls Clubs, but not all.
In Vermont, the other clubs to receive $20,000 awards were the ones in Brattleboro, Burlington and Vergennes. According to the company, Brattleboro is using its funds to relocate its after-school program to Retreat Farm, an outdoor setting. Burlington will use its money to support its after-school program, while the one in Vergennes is using it for a food program.
“We are so grateful to Hannaford in supporting our work to safely bring children together for fun in the outdoors to learn about food and farming,” stated Michelle Simpson, executive director of the Boys & Girls Club of Brattleboro. “So much of Vermont’s cultural identity and economic sustainability is rooted in the land and in food production. We are delighted that Hannaford is supporting our collaboration with the Retreat Farm to engage children with the land and with each other.”