As the country continues to suffer during the COVID pandemic, Jackson Family Wines is looking to offer a helping hand, adding more fuel to winery charity relief efforts. Partnering with major nonprofit United Way Worldwide, JFW launched the Grocery Worker’s Relief Fund through its Kendall-Jackson brand earlier this month, to provide aid to a group that has been significantly affected by the pandemic.
“My family and the company support a number of diverse causes and believe all frontline workers deserve our gratitude, support and admiration,” Barbara Banke, JFW’s chairman and proprietor, told Unfiltered via email. The company includes favorite labels such as Freemark Abbey, La Crema, WillaKenzie and, of course, Kendall-Jackson. Grocery stores and their workers have been a bulwark for wine producers, including JFW, after the loss of vital restaurant and tasting room business.
“We were looking for a charity to donate to that would directly benefit grocery workers,” said Banke. But during the search for a charity, JFW didn’t find a nonprofit that fit the bill. So they started their own, with United Way’s support. “We knew because of [United Way’s] vast network of resources and connections, their global visibility and proven success in philanthropic endeavors, they would be the perfect partner,” Banke explained.
JFW made a starting pledge of $200,000 for the fund’s first year, and has committed to $2 million over the next 10 years, intended to alleviate crises of food insecurity and layoffs around the country among a group of millions of workers whose jobs put them at heightened COVID risk. The fund’s urgent aid will be distributed mostly through $250 cash cards, using United Way’s 211 social services network to connect workers with the program.
The fund kicked off with a virtual event on Sept. 10, featuring professional and literal members of the JFW family speaking, along with musical interludes. “I feel like I’ve been a friend of K.J. forever and ever,” United Way U.S. president Suzanne McCormack said at the event, which brought in donation pledges from industry leaders like Wayne Chaplin, CEO of wholesaler Southern Glazer’s Wine & Spirits, and Doug Shaw, the president of distributor M.S. Walker. "We love the grocery stores and [grocery] workers, all really unsung heroes. We want to help as much as we can,” said Banke at the event. By the end of it, pledges had brought the Grocery Fund’s coffers to more than $500,000. “That is a substantial accomplishment, and we want to continue that momentum,” Banke told us. To help do so, you can donate now through the fund's website.
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