Make a Difference

Thursday December 27, 2012 | Filed under: Community, News About ASI

The end of one year and the start of another offers a great opportunity for reflection. Above all, it’s the perfect time to think not of ourselves, but of others, and to ask if we did enough to help friends and neighbors who might be in need. As Norman Cohn, ASI’s chairman of the board, is fond of reminding us, “One person can make a difference.”

I was especially heartened by the way this industry responded after Hurricane Sandy devastated so much of New York City, Long Island and the Jersey Shore. Generous assistance came from numerous corners and in many forms, through fundraising, food and supply drives organized by dozens of suppliers and distributors.

Here at ASI®, we’re involved in a number of charitable initiatives that promote the idea of “goodwill toward men” (and women) all year long. I’d like to share some of our most important activities, which might give you ideas on what companies and employees can accomplish by working together toward a common goal:

Employee Turkey and Pie Giveaway. Each November, the Cohn family shows their thanks to employees by giving them a choice of a free Thanksgiving turkey or pie. This year, we distributed 270 turkeys and 280 pies. The pies specifically benefited the Metropolitan Area Neighborhood Nutrition Alliance (MANNA) Pie in the Sky charity of Philadelphia. It works like this: Every pie ASI bought provided a fresh, hot, homemade Thanksgiving dinner that served four, delivered right to the door of a MANNA client coping with a life-threatening illness and at acute nutritional risk as a result.

Promotional Products Education Foundation. PPEF benefits the children of employees in the industry through several types of scholarships. ASI has already donated $110,000 to the foundation.

Annual Holiday Gift Drive. Every December, hundreds of ASI employees donate money to buy gifts for area families living in or receiving services through a homeless shelter run by the Family Service Association of Bucks County, PA. This year, we purchased a total of $6,279 worth of gifts, which helped people in need while allowing volunteers to feel good about doing their part.

Helping Cure Diabetes. In the past five years, the daughters of ASI Co-Chairman Matthew Cohn, Sydney and Mackenzie, have raised over $2 million to help fund research for Type 1, or juvenile diabetes, a devastating disease that affects millions of people, including a large and growing percentage of children like them ( In the last year alone, the girls raised a record $500,000+ through fundraisers like an annual JDRF walk for the cure in Philadelphia. JDRF is the world’s largest charitable funder of diabetes research.

American Red Cross. Every year, ASI’s administrative staff puts together a wonderful silent auction to raise money for the American Red Cross using sample promotional products sent by suppliers and featured in ASI magazines. This year, they raised a record-breaking $3,000 – a total ASI Chairman of the Board Norman Cohn matched through the United Way, for a grand total of $6,000 donated to our local Red Cross chapter here in Pennsylvania. In addition, employees have donated a total of 892 pints of blood.

United Way. Each year ASI matches any funds employees donate to United Way agencies. This year, ASI and its employees contributed a total of $20,640 to the United Way of Bucks County, PA. Last year ASI donated $16,578.

A Woman’s Place. A shelter for battered women located in Doylestown, PA. Since October 2006, more than 100 used cell phones have been donated by ASI employees, to be used only for emergency calls to 911.

The Philadelphia Ronald McDonald House. Each December, employees donate whatever they can to get a photo taken with Santa to benefit the local Ronald McDonald House, which provides a home away from home for families of critically ill children receiving treatment at local hospitals. So far, ASI has donated $2,675.

Dress for Success/Work-N-Style for Men/MenzFit. Provides interview-appropriate clothing to Philadelphia area low-income men and women entering or reentering the job market. So far, employees have donated 741 pieces of clothing, shoes and accessories.

Hometown Initiatives. As a way of giving back to my Indiana hometown, I started a food bank endowment that’s now close to $100,000, along with a separate charitable activity in Hope called the Hawcreek/Flat Rock Endowment Fund, whose endowment has already reached nearly $500,000. In my adopted hometown of Princeton, N.J., I’m heavily involved as a board member and former board president of the Arts Council of Princeton, which provides hundreds of free and reduced-price art courses for kids, and as a trustee of the McCarter Theatre Center for the Performing Arts.

These are just some of the initiatives we believe in here at ASI. As we enjoy holiday festivities, let’s all pause to give thanks for having enough to be able to give back – and to think about ways we might contribute to the greater good in 2013 and beyond.