When executives with the Canadian branch of the Baskin Robbins ice cream parlour chain went looking for a cause to support, they followed their U.S. counterpart and chose firefighters, the very men and women who risk their lives to protect the communities in which the company does business.
So starting last year, the 31 Cent Scoop Night: 31 Reasons Never to Forget event has helped raise awareness and funds for the Canadian Fallen Firefighters Foundation, a registered charity that has dedicated itself to honouring and preserving the memory of firefighters who lose their lives on the job, and supporting their families.
At some locations, firefighters even joined in on the fun, scooping ice cream, showing kids the fire truck and doing “fire tricks.”
This year’s event takes place Wednesday, April 28, from 5 to 10 p.m., at all Baskin Robbins outlets in Canada. For 31 cents, you can get a 2.5-ounce scoop of ice cream. As per its famous slogan, Baskin Robbins has 31 flavours from which to choose. As a prelude to the event, stores have also been selling Forget Me Not Sundaes with a portion of the $2.99 cost also going to the CFFF. That promotion ends at the end of April.
A concurrent program runs in the United States on the same day and times.
Gene Swinton, national marketing manager for Baskin Robbins Canada, says the company had been looking for a charity to support for a number of years.
“We did have Free Scoop Night in Canada in the past and it was always a fun and successful night, but it was just about fun. So, we in Canada felt like we had to do something more, so that it’s not just fun, but also a useful event. We tried to explore what we could do to make this a fundraiser,” Swinton tells Samaritanmag.com.
“In the U.S., they were running this program for four years now, and they partnered with their National Fallen Firefighters Foundation. We looked at what similar Canadian organizations there were that we could partner with and that’s how the event was born. We ended up partnering with the CFFF because we thought we should help those who help others.”
Baskin Robbins was founded in 1953 in Glendale, California, when Burt Baskin and Irvine Robbins decided to combine their ice cream parlours. Today, there are about 5,800 locations in 30 countries from Nepal to the Middle East, China, South America and the United Kingdom. Naturally, the Canadian Fallen Firefighters Foundation was thrilled to partner with such a successful brand and retailer.
“From our perspective, as a relatively new organization at the time, and trying to get ourselves established financially, we thought it was a wonderful opportunity to bring a corporate partner on board who could help us with our fundraising experts,” David Sheen, the Ontario representative on the CFFF board of directors and the chairperson of the fundraising committee, tells Samaritanmag.com.
“We have had a number of major corporations certainly step up to the plate for the CFFF, but Baskin Robbins was one of the first major corporate players to come on board in a large way.”
The Canadian Fallen Firefighters Foundation (www.cfff.ca) was created in 2003 by a group of former firefighters and firefighting heritage preservationists called the Bytown Fire Brigade out of Ottawa. Sheen says the founders noticed there was a national memorial and support infrastructure for fallen members of the armed forces and police officers, but nothing for firefighters so the CFFF was born.
“Basically, we have three main aims,” says Sheen, who is also a division chief with the Toronto Fire Service, “The first is to build a memorial in Ottawa; the second being to conduct the annual Canadian Firefighters Annual Memorial Ceremony and bring the families of the fallen in to be able to participate and see their loved ones honoured. And then we support the CFFF National Scholarship and Bursary Endowment Fund to care of the families of the fallen.”
More than 1,000 firefighters have been memorialized by the CFFF on its website and Sheen says the physical memorial will be built on a parcel of land donated by the National Capital Commission on the La Breton Flats part of Ottawa, across from the National War Museum and close to Parliament Hill. The estimated cost to build the monument is between $3.5 and $4 million, according to Sheen.
The winning design for the memorial will be unveiled Sept. 12, National Fire Fighters Day, on the steps of the Parliament Buildings. Construction will begin immediately, he says. “The completed monument will be unveiled for our 2012 ceremony.”
According to Swinton, Baskin Robbins likes the idea of helping a profession such as firefighting because of the selfless, courageous and community-minded nature of those who choose to serve in that profession.
“We ourselves can’t prevent fires. We can’t save lives in those fires, but we can help those who do. So, based on that criterion — to help those who help others — we decided to work with the CFFF,” Swinton explains.
Last year, Baskin Robbins, as a corporation, donated $10,000 to the CFFF with almost $20,000 more coming from donations from customers at the company’s 120 parlours.
“I do hope that all customers will understand the importance of the event, and would donate generously on that day,” says Swinton, adding that there will be lots of signage in the stores to encourage patrons to make a donation above and beyond the 31 cents.
He also believes that with more marketing and awareness, the company should be able to raise even more money for the CFFF.
“Our goal is to beat that $30,000 number this year. I actually did a quick calculation and if this year every person we project to come to the event on April 28, between 5 p.m. and 10 p.m. donates one loonie, we are likely to beat last year’s result by 300 per cent.”
Swinton says the primary desire to get involved in this charitable endeavour was because Baskin Robbins and its global parent corporation, Dunkin’ Brands, “always felt we had to be a good citizen in all the communities which support our business. This is our way to give back to the community.”adidas Yeezy 350