From the May 1999 issue of Entrepreneur

Charity work isn't reserved for the economic elite. Just ask mother-daughter team Maria Solorzano and Yvette Gooch. Since 1997, the owners of Medford, New Jersey-based E Z Pantry Inc. have been showing customers of their grocery shopping and delivery service just how good it feels to give.

After nearby Philadelphia hosted a summit on volunteerism two summers ago, philanthropy became the talk of surrounding towns. "Since a lot of our customers are disabled or homebound, the conversation came up: `What can we do?' " says Gooch, 31.

Solorzano and Gooch devised a plan: For one month, they'd request a 25-cent donation from each customer and match the amount given. Customers were enthusiastic-- some gave quarters; others pitched in $5, $10 or even $20.

Today, the company's still putting smiles on the faces of givers and receivers, having raised more than $5,000 since the program began. Money goes toward household products, and holiday hams and turkeys for New Jersey charities. The homeless, food banks and soup kitchens have all benefited. To show customers their progress, donation specifics are printed in E Z Pantry's newsletter, along with letters of thanks from various charities.

Needless to say, E Z Pantry's donation drive will continue. "It really doesn't require much effort," says Gooch. "Not only does it help our relationship with customers, it helps the community."

The 9-year-old company, a brainchild of Solorzano, 53, is looking toward nationwide expansion. Its first New Jersey franchise was sold last year.

Contact Source

E Z Pantry, P.O. Box 1342, Medford, NJ 08055, (609) 767-0555