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Panera Owners Serve Up Bagels to Help Florida Foster Kids; Couple Committed to Helping At-Risk Kids

May 7th, 2012   No Comments   Advocacy

The numbers are staggering. More than 14,000 kids across Florida are in foster care, and thousands more are considered at risk. Yet for advocates, guardians, involved childcare attorneys and citizens, solutions to help abound – if they only look.

Panera Bread franchise owners Gavin and Annette Ford long ago looked for what they could do for foster kids in Florida. Their solution was to open their doors and proceeds. The couple offers mentoring and a summer jobs program. In the past year, through their business they’ve donated almost $400,000 to local charities, including those that help foster children.

Earlier this month, the couple got creative with their philanthropy. According to the Orlando Sentinel, their Panera Bread restaurants in Orange, Osceola, Seminole, Lake, Brevard, Volusia, Martin, Indian River and St. Lucie counties, the Fords sold a ribbon-shaped blueberry bagel pastry custom created for foster kids.

They didn’t donate a portion of the proceeds for the kids. All of money from the “Blue Ribbon Bagel” sale was slated for the Foundation for Foster Children.

Florida Department of Children and Families’ central region spokeswoman Carrie Hoeppner said the Fords’ contributions and support is nothing short of extraordinary. “What always impresses us the most is that they do not do this for the recognition,” she told the Sentinel. ”They do these things because it is in their heart.”

They they received acknowledgement from DCF and Lt. Gov. Jennifer Carroll.

Organizations like the Foundation for Foster Children, Florida’s Children First, the state’s leading advocacy organization for foster and at-risk children, and others work to improve the lives and opportunities for vulnerable kids throughout Florida.

We are surrounded by children in need. But we also are surrounded by ways to help. As the Fords showed, a commitment to help starts with the desire to do good. That can come through volunteering, mentoring, hiring a foster kid, or baking and selling a special bagel for special kids in need of some help.

What can you do?

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