Pop’s Kettle Corn of Thunder Bay is helping out the local community with its “From Our Kettle of the Salvation Army Kettle” initiative.
Co-owner Michael Lemesani stopped by Canadian Tire here Friday to offer customers a taste of the “Wickedly Delicious” popcorn—as well as to present a cheque to the local Salvation Army.
“Since we started the business six years ago, I’ve always said that we should do something for the Salvation Army,” Lemesani noted.
“It just makes sense—my ‘kettle’ for their ‘kettle,’” he reasoned.
“I kept on saying that and then last year, I said I’m going to do it.”
Lemesani asked at the Salvation Army in Thunder Bay and it was on board. Then he got thinking about what business he could approach to help him out with his plan.
Wanting to stay Canadian, he approached Canadian Tire due to its national reach.
He left a message at the head office, which returned his call a few days later saying it was interested in being a part of the initiative.
Within a couple of weeks, Pop’s Kettle Corn had approval to approach owners of the 490 Canadian Tire stores across the country.
“It’s up to each individual store to say ‘yea’ or ‘nay,’” said Lemesani, noting they currently have agreements with 12 stores.
“What happens is we have the ‘Wickedly Delicious’ in the store and 50 cents from us at Pop’s and 50 cents from the dealer, so $1 a bag, goes directly to the Salvation Army’s kettle fund in that area,” he explained.
Besides here, the Thunder Bay-produced popcorn currently is in Dryden, Kenora, Marathon, and Sudbury, as well as in Winnipeg (Polo Park), Toronto (three locations), and Barrie.
“It’s a way that we can give back to everyone else from a good product,” Lemesani remarked.
“Instead of having fundraising for six weeks for the Salvation Army, the idea is to have it all year-round because it is a great snack and it’s a great cause,” he added.
Over the year, they’ve been changing their posters to correspond with the season.
Lemesani hopes to make some changes next year to include on the display units throughout the year how many bags and/or dollars have been raised.
“So every month they could put the new number on,” he noted.
The grand total for 2016 for the three stores in this region was $2,425, with the Fort Frances Salvation Army getting more than $1,000 of that to go toward its Christmas campaign.
Jill Pernsky, community ministries manager for the local Salvation Army, was on hand Friday morning at Canadian Tire to accept the cheque.
“It shows how you can take a little idea and how it can grow in no time,” she enthused, adding she was blown away by the generosity.
“This is just absolutely amazing,” Pernsky added. “This will help us with our Christmas hampers.
“We seem to have more families that need help,” she explained. “It will help us with the food and toys.”
Meanwhile, local Canadian Tire owner John Malgo was pleased to be a part of the initiative, too, noting he had seen Lemesani on the news prior to him approaching his store.
“People seem to love [the popcorn] and it helps out the community, too,” he enthused.
“The idea is the managers have experienced it now for the whole year . . . we make sure they have fresh product in the square footage they provide us and that it is providing them good return on their investments,” Lemesani noted.
In fact, he’s hoping they get some more stores on board, indicating his daughter lives in Edmonton so they’d like to expand westward.
“So we’re growing,” he stressed, noting in total they doled out $10,000 for the whole year.
“That’s not bad for the first initiative,” Lemesani reasoned.
“We’re helping the Salvation Army one bag at a time.”
The 380g bag of the sweet-and-salty popcorn costs $5.50 and is available at Canadian Tire here year-round.