Shaw’s, Star Markets and MDA: A Lucky Partnership

2018 marks the 24th year that MDA, Shaw’s and Star Market have partnered together to sell MDA Shamrocks. To date, the New England-area grocer has raised more than $4 million selling MDA Shamrocks since the partnership began in 1994. In the process, Shaw’s and Star Market have become staunch supporters for those in their communities living with neuromuscular disease. This is mirrored by their parent company, Albertsons Companies, which operates under 20 well-known banners, including Albertsons, Safeway, Vons, Jewel-Osco, ACME, Tom Thumb, Randalls, United Supermarkets, Pavilions, Haggen, Carrs and others.

“We are indebted to Shaw’s and Star Market for helping us with MDA Shamrocks and being there for our families,” says Dave Spellman, director of business development for MDA Massachusetts. “The company-wide buy in, from their president, Paul Gossett, down their district managers, store directors and employees, has been fantastic.”

History and impact

For 36 years, the MDA Shamrocks campaign has become a staple at retailers throughout the country. As of 2017, the annual St. Patrick’s Day campaign has raised more than $316 million, with more than 20,000 retailers participating. In stores, customers can purchase green $1 or gold $5 paper Shamrocks, each with a picture of someone the campaign is helping. The Shamrocks are then pinned in a prominent area of each store.

For Shaw’s and Star Market, partnership with MDA traces to 1994, when the campaign was featured in seven locations in Maine. Today, the campaign can be found at all 154 Shaw’s and Star Market stores throughout Maine, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, Vermont and New Hampshire. That commitment to MDA is also found in their parent organization, Idaho-based Albertsons Companies.

The impact of the MDA Shamrocks campaign cannot be understated.

“The funds go toward vital MDA services and research,” Spellman says. “Our Summer Camp program is a service where those raising money can see a tangible impact of the dollars they raise. It is a chance for children with neuromuscular diseases to get outdoors, do a lot of great things, be independent and make friends. It’s a very enriching experience.

“And research-wise,” Spellman says, “we are really ramping up in terms of the successes we are seeing. There’s such an uptick in the number of MDA-supported drugs that are in clinic and getting approved, and patients are seeing tangible benefits.”

Enthusiastic fundraisers

According to Teresa Edington, manager of external communications and community relations for Shaw’s and Star Market Foundation, this year marks the company’s most ambitious fundraising goal yet.

“Every year we set up goals for all of our stores, and [we] try to move it up every year,” Edington says. “We had an outstanding fundraising year last year and hope this year to meet or exceed 2017.”

Although all Shaw’s and Star Market locations sell MDA Shamrocks, each individual store has the autonomy to raise money in other ways.

“Some stores use their own creativity to reach out to customers,” Edington says. “Some stores do a giant Shamrock display of all the MDA Shamrocks, and another store has Irish step dancers come in for an afternoon celebrating MDA.”

None of this could be done without the commitment of Shaw’s and Star Market employees.

“Our employees are committed to supporting MDA,” Edington says. “They really get behind the MDA Shamrocks campaign and are dedicated to helping the cause.”

An enduring partnership

Twenty-four years in, the partnership is as strong as ever. Last year, Shaw’s, Star Market and MDA had a check presentation ceremony at the Boston-area Muscle Walk, and there are plans for a similar presentation this year. According to Edington, the day of Muscle Walk is a meaningful capstone to the Shamrocks campaign, and a way to strengthen the partnership between the grocers and MDA.

“It gets our team to Muscle Walk,” she says, “and it’s a great chance to learn more about the impact being made to all those families.”

Overall, MDA’s partnership with Shaw’s and Star Market is built on collaboration, community and hope. It is something that both sides cherish and look forward to continuing for many years to come. Says Spellman: “We couldn’t have a better partner than Shaw’s and Star Market. The buy-in of their employees is where the success happens. It shows they are committed to the community. It’s certainly great for MDA and our families.”

Edington concurs.

“Throughout the year, I work closely with MDA,” she says, “and they have a fabulous team here in New England. We’ve got an incredible partnership, and they’ve become a part of the fabric of the culture of Shaw’s and Star Market.”

Help find treatments and cures for adults and kids living with muscular dystrophy and related life-threatening diseases with MDA Shamrocks.