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Penney's picks up slack for youth Jon Campbell | Fri, Apr 16 2010 03:42 PM

Allie Pruitt, Community Council chair for the National City Boys and Girls Club, is a big fan of JCPenney, but not for its reasonably priced clothing selection. It’s because since 2008, the Plaza Bonita branch of the nationwide chain has donated more than $16,000 to help fund programs for kids in the area.
“There’s no way I would have imagined, three years ago when I filled out that form, that this was the kind of support we would receive,” said Pruitt.
The form Pruitt mentioned was for the company’s Round Up program, in which customers are asked to literally round up their purchases, to the next even dollar and donate the difference to the Boys and Girls Club. The program runs for 10 to 15 days at a time, three times per year. Pruitt applied for the program and didn’t expect much out of it, she said, but her organization has gotten a lot in return. She said she gives most of the credit to JCPenney employees who have the responsibility to push the program.
“The staff at Penney’s has to approach the public and remind them that they can do this, said Pruitt. While most people are likely to be receptive, said Pruitt, they still have to be asked. And apparently the employees have done a good job.
Pruitt also offered her thanks to Rick Rico, the store’s general manager, saying when he has come to the Boys and Girls Club to present checks, he’s always been “very enthusiastic.”
Rico said the feelings of admiration are mutual. In fact, Rico said, he’s no stranger to the Boys and Girls Club himself, having served on the board of the local club in his former home of Santa Ana. Store managers are permitted to designate the charity that receives Round Up proceeds, and so when he moved to National City a few years ago, he said the Boys and Girls Club was a natural choice.
“It’s a group that’s been very close to my heart,” said Rico, but he too deflected credit to his employees. He said it would be just as easy for associates at the store to ignore the program, but in his experience, they won’t.
“There’s an awful lot of effort from our team. Frankly, they could bypass the message on the screen (that prompts them to ask about the Round Up program), but they’re here to go the extra mile,” said Rico.

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