Who Needs Robin Hood When We Have Each Other?
October 17, 2013 Matt Salis - Owner, Great Harvest Bread Co. of Denver
There is a lot of talk these days about wealth redistribution. Even without the noble cause of fighting a tyrannical king there is still a large segment of our population that believes there is justice in taking from the rich and giving to the poor. Equal opportunity no longer seems to be enough for some. Sharing of the wealth without acknowledgement or reward for the hard work and ingenuity it took to earn the wealth is a popular sentiment. As I have shared before, I am a capitalist and thus believe in the free market economy that made this country great. As the American spirit shifts from holding hard work and independence in high regard to an economic theory of spreading it around and spending money we do not have, I cannot help but worry…about my friends, my family and my neighbors. Maybe we are on the right path. What if we are not? Seventeen trillion dollars seems like a big hole to me, but I admit that I do not have a degree in economics. Maybe I am wrong. What if I’m not? There has to be another way.
After reading that opening paragraph, you surely are feeling one of three ways. Maybe you agree with the path our government is on and thus probably include me in the category of the greedy and the selfish. I am surrounded by that sentiment, so I understand your feelings. Part of me wishes that an economic theory not of equal opportunity but of equal distribution would work. History shows that it does not because it lacks incentive for creativity and entrepreneurship. Maybe you agree with me and are excited to read where on earth I am going with this. Perhaps you are not following what I am saying. If that is the case, I am a little bit jealous because you must not waste the time I do watching the talking heads on cable news. In any event, I hope you will continue reading because I am going to tell you what we all have in common, and why I believe there is a better way.
Like most of you, my wife, Sheri, and I have causes that are near to our hearts. With four small children attending Denver public schools, we see first hand and daily the impact of education. It is much more than just 2+2=4 or learning to read and write. Interacting with teachers and other students teaches kids respect, tolerance, pride, communication, the value of hard work and the need to help each other. Public school education is a place where we have spent a lot of energy and a cause we try to champion in our community.
On October 5th, the Great Harvest Bread Co. of Denver held our eighth annual Whole Grains for Growing Brains fundraiser. We donated 100% of our sales from that day to the Denver Public Schools Educational Outreach Program (EOP). Jackie and Anna from the EOP spend all of their working time trying to help homeless kids in the Denver Public Schools. They track students without a permanent home as they bounce from homeless shelter to homeless shelter. They help them with food, clothes and other essentials, and they try to keep them enrolled and attending the same schools throughout the school year. In order to accomplish this last goal, city bus vouchers for transportation across Denver are required. Much of the money raised by Whole Grains for Growing Brains is used to transport our community’s homeless children to and from school throughout the year. As you can imagine, Jackie and Anna are my heroes. They work tirelessly to help Denver’s kids have a chance at that equal opportunity I mentioned above. In spite of the hardships they witness on a daily basis, they do it all with smiles on their faces.
While we are all grateful for the work Jackie and Anna do, they want to thank you for your support. Sheri and I also thank you. I am not writing about Whole Grains for Growing Brains so I can pat myself on the back. I am sharing the details of this day with you to demonstrate what a community of caring and generous although hardworking and independent people can do when they join together to make a difference. All Sheri and I did was get the ball rolling. We threw in a few hundred dollars of ingredients and labor, and you turning it into a few thousand dollars to help homeless students in our community. It seems we have all of this baking equipment, a hard working crew and a pretty solid retail storefront at our disposal. We are blessed with these assets that our community is able to use to make a mountain out of a mole hill (in a good way…a mountain of cash out of a mole hill of pennies).
Some of our customers supported Whole Grains for Growing Brains 2013 accidentally. It was Saturday. Saturday is bread buying day. Oops, they helped a great cause. Far more of you made a special effort to buy something that is, by the way, really healthy and delicious knowing full well that you were doing your part to raise over $3,400 for homeless kids in our community. Great job! Thank you for being a part of the solution! Jackie and Anna want me to extend a virtual hug to you. Thank you.
Sheri and I sacrifice a little. You sacrifice a little. We all sacrifice together, and the outcome is a lot of income…for helpless children who struggle to survive right here in our community. That should make you feel good. It always makes me feel great. The great comes not from the money. It is from the feeling of community…the working together. People who loved my opening paragraph helped. People who hated my opening paragraph helped. People who were confused by my opening paragraph – yep – they helped too!
The government played a part in this day too. The state and city took sales tax out of our fundraising efforts. They were both joined by the feds in requiring that we pay the employer’s portion of income taxes for our crew who worked that day. Government is always there to reach into the cookie jar. They do not care if a hard-working couple is trying to employ neighbors and feed four children or if we are raising money for a higher cause. The government’s hand is an equal opportunity money grab. While I wish it was not so, at least they serve to prove my point. The point is that there is a better way.
Neighbors helping neighbors. Generous kid lovers right here in our town come together to give what they can. That is a beautiful thing to see. I am sure some of us could give a little more, but the marble floors of the capital building need a fresh coat of wax…so generosity will have to give way to wasted tax payments. Maybe next time a dollar earned locally can be donated locally at the discretion of the dollar earner. For now, our generation’s version of Robin Hood is here to take from those who generate income which keeps the economy moving and use the loot to buy barricades to keep war heroes from visiting open air memorials. I am not a fan of government mandated redistribution, but maybe it would be a little more tolerable if it were not being conducted by a bunch of politically motivated incompetent nincompoops.
Here in Denver, we had it right at least for one day in October. Friends told friends about a fundraiser at the local neighborhood bakery. A community came out to turn wheat, honey, water, yeast and salt into $3,400 dollars for homeless kids. I watched you fill our lobby and empty our bread racks for hours. I noticed smiles on your faces and a warmth in your hearts. I did not notice who was leaning to the left, nor did I notice who was leaning to the right. What I saw was a community of neighbors standing tall and straight together. The homeless students are surely thankful. Jackie and Anna are thankful. Sheri and I are thankful and are very proud to call you supporters of the Great Harvest Bread Co. of Denver!
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Great Harvest Bread Co.
765 South Colorado Boulevard
Denver, Colorado 80246
Open Mon. - Fri. 6am - 3pm
Sat. 8am - 3pm, Closed Sun.