What brings out the best in you? For one North Carolina CEO it’s giving — giving back, giving to, just giving. Through the highs and lows of running a fast-growing franchise business, the one constant in Steve Schnitzler’s life is the giving…it is always in the forefront and it is never wasted time and effort.
“I’m at my best when I’m helping others,” explained Schnitzler, CEO of Port City Java.
The holidays, of course, are rife with opportunities to give, and the Wilmington-based coffee franchise doesn’t miss a chance to make the “giving” opportunity available to employees, customers, and even strangers in the community.
This holiday season Schnitzler is teaming up with socially-conscious fashion line HALF UNITED to fight childhood hunger in local communities. The Giving Back is the New Black campaign offers java drinkers the opportunity to purchase a bold black coffee sleeve at the counter for $.50. All proceeds will go towards local non-profits working to feed hungry children.
“We hope people see the distinctive black sleeve and start asking questions, creating a buzz around the important issue of childhood hunger that our communities deal with each day,” said Schnitzler. “If we sell out that would be over $25,000 in charitable donations our company could give this holiday season.”
The promotion is very different from the past years’ promotions when the coffee chain has offered bundles of items that promote their own products.
“The holidays are all about giving, and this year we wanted to give back to our community and really make an impact,” said Schnitzler.
A Holiday Tradition
Indeed, Schnitzler thrives on making an impact. He has become well known in the Port City for an event he created seven years ago, simply called Marines for Thanksgiving. Since 2011, Schnitzler has chartered more than a dozen busses to bring hundreds of U.S. Marines from Camp Lejeune military base to Wilmington-area high schools on Thanksgiving morning. There the marines are met by host families who take them into their homes for Thanksgiving Day to share a meal, fellowship, and give them a special reason to feel grateful.
This year Retired Army Lt. Col. Terry McDowell and his wife Leslie, who have three children serving in the military, participated in the event for the first time.
“We thoroughly enjoyed our time with our Marines. They lit up our home with personality and gave our Thanksgiving even more meaning. It is so nice what Steve has created and we were tickled to be one of the ‘chosen’ families!” said Leslie McDowell.
PFC Colin Woodhead and PFC Joseph Couillard called their day with the McDowell’s life-changing.
“They’re not just feeding us. They’re making us part of their family for the day. So, I just can’t explain it. It’s just awesome,” said Woodhead.
Their heartwarming story touched thousands as TV stations throughout the country watched strangers become friends with thanks and gratitude mutually exchanged.
A self-described poor kid from Montville, New Jersey, (he thinks he may have been the only poor kid in the expensive NYC bedroom community) Schnitzler doesn’t buy into the notion that business is all about profit – for him, it’s about people. It’s why he serves on local non-profit boards. It’s why he mentors other young entrepreneurs. It’s why he created a Be the Change program at Port City Java, offering employees five paid hours of volunteer work a year. That may not be much compared to what CEO’s of big Fortune 500 companies can offer, but again, it’s not about the numbers, it’s about making people a priority, making an impact in your community, and quite simply, just making time to give.
“People helped me along the way, and I just feel we should all be helping other people,” shared Schnitzler. “I know everyone is busy, but I believe we all have time for what we choose to have time for. It’s how you prioritize things. I choose to spend my time on people—because what else is there?”
Under Schnitzler’s leadership, Port City Java has become more than just a place that brews a fantastic cup of coffee; it has become a responsible corporate citizen which immerses itself in local communities. At the holidays and throughout the year, Port City Java encourages everyone to make our communities stronger by serving others and giving back.
That purposeful giving is part of the passion that goes into the PCJ brand. To learn more about how you can get become part of a brand that puts people first, visit www.portcityjavafranchising.com
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