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Many Lakelanders know his name and that he is the man behind Publix, but what they don’t realize is the scope of George Jenkins’ philanthropic spirit. His idea of generosity has created the giving spirit that defines Lakeland’s culture, making this a unique community. In 1966, Mr. George founded the George Jenkins Foundation. Soon after, however, he changed the name to Publix Super Markets Charities so that it could live on well after he was gone. Today, Publix supports more than 10,000 organizations in the six states that are home to Publix stores. Through the generosity of his extended family, Publix Supermarket Charities, and individual Publix stores, Lakeland’s culture perpetuates and advances. Publix Super Markets Charities matches its employees’ giving to the United Way every year. Together, in 2013, Publix and its associates gave over $50 million back to Publix’s communities. Publix is also currently ranked third in United Way global giving, beating out companies like GE and IBM (UnitedWay.org). Publix does not stop at donating to the United Way, though. There are countless donations made through Publix stores; stores individually participate in numerous drives every year, including Tools for Back to School, Feeding America, Food for All, Special Olympics, and March of Dimes. Through these initiatives Publix has given over $100 million back to its communities over the years. This remarkable $150 million plus does not include the many gift cards given to thousands of food pantries and grassroots organizations across the Southeast, nor does it include contributions made through Publix Super Market Charities. When Mr. George opened his first grocery store in 1930, I wonder if he ever thought he would make a difference of such magnitude.

The Lakelander - THE GEORGE EFFECT | September - October 2014  

THE GRATITUDE EFFECT / LEGACY OF GIVING / MR. GEORGE'S FAVORITE MEAL / FOSTERING INNOVATION IN THE WORKPLACE / LAKELAND NEON