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Albertson’s named Business of the Year

Chad Coleman/Mercer Island Reporter Albertson’s store manager John Gillespie, left center, holds the Mercer Island Chamber of Commerce Business of the Year award and is surrounded by employees of the Island grocer. -
Chad Coleman/Mercer Island Reporter Albertson’s store manager John Gillespie, left center, holds the Mercer Island Chamber of Commerce Business of the Year award and is surrounded by employees of the Island grocer.
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For its charitable mindset and ongoing support of local service organizations, the Mercer Island Chamber of Commerce named Albertson’s the 2006 Business of the Year.

The Chamber picked Albertson’s grocery store and pharmacy because it has been very active in the Island community for many, many years, said Terry Moreman, executive director of the Chamber.

“This store is an integral part of our community and as a big store it gives back tremendously,” Moreman said.

In nominating the store, Mercer Island resident and community volunteer Emmett Maloof wrote that Albertson’s goes out of its way to accommodate charitable and service organizations from the Boy Scouts to the VFW, the Salvation Army and the Lions Club. It also allows Girl Scouts to sell cookies there every spring and donates food to NW Harvest every day.

“The list is endless,” Maloof wrote.

In addition to direct contributions and services, the store has a Community Partnership Card that returns one to five percent of the purchases made by local charitable and service organizations. In the last five years, Albertson’s returned over $125,000 to 31 charitable organizations.

Store manager John Gillespie accepted the award for the store.

The longtime manager is largely responsible for the store award, Moreman said.

And Gillaspie acknowledged that his company allows him to be generous. “The people at Albertson’s make it possible for him to be this involved in the community,” Moreman said. And he seems to really enjoy it.”

Gillespie, who has managed this Albertson’s for nine years and worked for the company for 37, credited the corporation for permitting and encouraging community involvement.

“I feel fortunate to work for a company that thinks corporate citizenship is important,” Gillespie said. “We’re honored, as we just try and do our thing, do our work and be a good corporate citizen while doing that.”

He also thanked his employees for their continuous volunteer efforts, commending them for their recent Cancer walk that raised $1,000 and their 2,000 hours of community service donated this year.

Following the award’s presentation at the Chamber lunch last Wednesday, Secretary of State Sam Reed discussed Washington’s recent election reforms. But before he began, Reed acknowledged the importance of corporate citizenship.

“When I was working in Thurston County, the finest local contributor was Olympia Brewing,” Reed said. “They gave to every local organization that came to them. It was wonderful for us at that time to have such a good corporate citizen and (their contributions) really became apparent when Pabst took over the brewery and just completely detached itself from the community.”

This is the third time the Chamber has given the award. In 2004, Island Books received the honor and last year it was Mercer Island Florist. However, members of the Chamber wanted to note that this year it picked a large business.

“We are a small Island community and tend to focus a lot of local businesses. But Albertson’s is the perfect example of a big box store that uses its resources to benefit the community,” Moreman said.

“We don’t feel like a big company,” Gillespie said. “We feel like a small company and a part of a small Island community.”

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