may otherwise not have a Christmas (or whatever holiday they may celebrate). Charity is an integral part of what it means to be human, to care for others however we can, especially if they cannot care for themselves, or are working to get back onto their feet following a layoff or economic disaster, as we see all too often.
However, many countries do not have a history of charitable donation among corporations during the holidays, or ever. One of these is the eastern European country of Bulgaria -- a beautiful nation with amazing scenery from beaches to mountains, a wealth of archeological sites, and a rich and complex culture that has stood for about as long as recorded history. This is a country and a people worth protecting, and corporate charities should and need to be a part of this protection, like they are throughout most of the developed world.
This was the same thought that occurred to Advanced Nutrients' CEO Michael "Big Mike" Straumietis during a Christmastime trip to Bulgaria. Rosebud Magazine, which is operated by Advanced Nutrients, donates three full-page ads to nonprofit groups each month, so Big Mike has shown an obvious affinity for corporate altruism in an industry not often associated with charitable causes.
Upon noticing Bulgaria's complete lack of corporately funded charities, Straumietis was understandably shocked. "What strikes me is that in Bulgaria there are no charity campaigns sponsored by corporate businesses during the holidays," he recently told Bulgarian television. "I told our team in Bulgaria that we need an organized campaign to attract Bulgarian corporations. So, we created Holiday Heroes, not only to provide dinner for families, but also to draw attention to the needs of corporate philanthropy. This is a call to corporate Bulgaria to help families in need [especially] during the holidays -- let's make their festive evening even more beautiful. This isn't about us; it's about [these] families."
Straumietis, along with his colleagues at the hydroponic company European Plant Science Organization, began a campaign utilizing celebrity spokespeople, including models (Bulgaria has some of the most gorgeous women on the planet), actors, entrepreneurs and gymnasts, with the goal of promoting Holiday Heroes and encouraging corporations to join in on the good karma.
By bringing together a multitude of entities, Holiday Heroes and its founders and supporters here in the hydroponic community have raised more than 40 thousand Bulgarian Leva ($27,000 USD). The ultimate plan this season is to bring a hot dinner and gift basket to a thousand of the most vulnerable Bulgarian families, who may otherwise go without a Christmas.
Thanks to the organizers' hard work and promotion by celebrities, Holiday Heroes has obtained the support of a variety of Bulgarian corporations and even international soft drink giant Coca-Cola. Of course, the Bulgarian Food Bank and the Bulgarian Red Cross are thrilled with the program, and governmental agencies are on-board as well. These include the Metropolitan Municipality of Sofia (Bulgaria's Capital and largest city) and the Bulgarian-American Chamber of Commerce, who has been developing business relations between the U.S. and Bulgaria for over a decade.
Like most of the former Communist Bloc, Bulgaria was once a hub of industrial production. Now, new methods of mass production and agriculture have made quite a lot of money for Bulgarian corporations and their CEOs, but have devastated the working class, most of whom do not possess the skills required for the jobs of the new electronic age. This struggling nation has one of the highest mortality rates in the world (right behind countries like Afghanistan and Somalia) mostly due to Bulgaria's poverty and lack of adequate healthcare. These people need help now, which is why the founders of Holiday Heroes felt that it was so important to get working now.
Perhaps most importantly, the group aims to bring attention to the need for corporate philanthropy in this beautiful but struggling nation, as well as in other countries like it. In years to come, charities like Holiday Heroes hope to make it a Merry Christmas for many, many more families and, perhaps someday, groups like this won't be needed. But until then, at least we know we can always count on our Heroes.
*All statistics are from the CIA Fact Sheet on Bulgaria
© Copyright RosebudMag.com, 2012
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Thursday, 20 December 2012