Acme Fresh Market associates win Salvation Army Community Medal Award

By Marilyn Miller
Beacon Journal staff writer

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Jim Tressel, University of Akron vice president for strategic engagement, delivers his speech as featured speaker at the Salvation Army's 8th annual community medal award and Kettle Kickoff in the FirstMerit Foundation Club level at InfoCision Stadium on Tuesday in Akron. (Mike CardewAkron Beacon Journal)

When Steve Albrecht was nominated to be the recipient of the Salvation Army’s 2012 Community Medal Award, he turned it down. Instead, the former Salvation Board member recommended the award should go to Acme Fresh Market associates, his store managers, the ground troops who he said get things done.

About 250 people attended the Salvation Army’s 8th Annual Community Medal Award & Kettle Kickoff held Tuesday at the InfoCision Stadium. The speaker was Jim Tressel, UA vice president for strategic engagement.

Tressel said knowing the history of the Salvation Army offers inspiration and challenges the community to serve a little bit more and give a little more.

Tressel first met Major David Dunham, now the Summit County Area Services Coordinator, while Tressel was a young coach at Youngstown State. He would bring his players to the Salvation Army and attend the annual luncheon.

He said he has always been impressed with the thousands of people in the organization who have given their lives to others. He later became a board member.

“The Salvation Army changes lives; even more importantly it saves lives. It gives people a chance,” Tressel said. “When we think about what are we here for, I am convinced we are on this earth to serve others.”

The Salvation Army Advisory Board took Albrecht’s recommendation and selected Acme Fresh Market associates as this year’s community award recipient. Bill Bennett of the Salvation Army board acknowledged that under Steve Albrecht’s leadership, Acme has had “a tremendous impact on our community.”

He rattled off a list of Acme’s community involvement — the Akron Marathon, the Akron-Canton Regional Foodbank, Boo at the Akron Zoo, First Night Akron, Metro Parks, Making strides Against Breast Cancer, the Pro Football Hall of Fame and a community-based fundraising program called Akron Community Cash Back, which helps 1,000 organizations raise money.

Bennett said Acme stores do positive things in the community, have been around since 1901 and are “good corporate citizens.”

Acme now has 16 stores and 2,025 employees.

One of the activities Acme helps support is the Salvation Army Kettle Campaign. There will be 67 kettles around the community this year. The national campaign doesn’t officially kick off until the day after Thanksgiving, but Acme has allowed the campaign to already start at its stores. Last year, 47 percent of all the money raised in the Akron area came from Acme locations.

Albrecht accepted the award on behalf of his employees.

“Acme Fresh Market associates appreciate the partnership. The Salvation Army has proved itself. It has earned its stripes and your reputation proceeds you and we really feel good about supporting your cause and your organization with the Kettle Campaign,” Albrecht said. “The campaign doesn’t get done without soldiers in the field. I’m talking about the Acme associates who are out there on a day-to-day basis, store by store, making sure those who are ringing the kettle bell are in a good customer spot for them to be successful. So it’s really our store directors and several key associates doing that.”

Maj. David C. Dunham, Summit County area services coordinator, said he is reminded of the chain’s motto — “Acme Fresh Markets feeding families of our community for over 120 years.”

“We feed families. It’s a cause for Acme Fresh Markets, the importance of family meals and how it relates to the Salvation Army, because you make progress one person at a time, one family at a time. We are pulling the same wagon with the mission of feeding families.”

More than 300 volunteers and staff will be putting in 1,600 hours of bell ringing this Kettle Campaign in an effort to meet the group’s goal of $400,000.

Marilyn Miller can be reached at 330-996-3098 or mmiller@thebeaconjournal.com.


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