"Partnering with Starlight is a natural fit for our company, as we share a common vision to support youth and family initiatives within our communities," says Gary Beisler, president and CEO of Qdoba Restaurant Corporation. "Despite a challenging economic climate in 2009, we're pleased that through localized monetary and in-kind donations, we more than doubled our commitment to Starlight. We look forward to continuing to build our partnership in 2010."
Qdoba's financial support comprised corporate contributions and funds raised through various company-wide events, like an auction at the company's annual franchise meeting, which was held in October 2009. Qdoba also donated more than $65,000 in toys collected through toy drives, gave in-kind donations such as food for events and volunteer hours, and sponsored locally directed Starlight Fun Centers. Designed to combat the anxiety and weariness faced by hospitalized children, the latest Fun Center model includes a Sharp AQUOST LCD TV, a DVD player, and a Nintendo Wii system. In 2009, Qdoba dedicated Starlight Fun Centers in multiple markets including Boston; Denver; Dillon, Colorado; and St. Louis.
Also in 2009, Qdoba completed its first-ever Qmmunity program to honor local community heroes. The Qmmunity program and microsite encouraged guests to nominate the stars in their own communities: people who had worked to improve the lives of those around them through their own volunteer and philanthropic efforts. Qdoba committed to donate $1 to Starlight—up to $25,000—for every action taken, including nominating, sharing, and voting through various communication channels, such as e-mail, Facebook, and Twitter.
The top Qmmunity nominee, Emily DuBois (one of the top five finalists, as voted by their peers and a team of judges), earned a $5,000 donation toward the charity of her choice, Crohn's & Colitis Foundation of America, and a Starlight Fun Center was donated in her name to St. Luke's Hospital in St. Louis. In all, nearly 260 nominations were received and more than 72,000 votes cast. The inaugural Qmmunity raised $25,000, which will be directed toward Qdoba's 2010 national monetary commitment to Starlight.
Qdoba selected Starlight Children's Foundation in 2008 as its national charity partner. Starlight is an international charity dedicated to helping seriously ill children and their families cope with their pain, fear, and isolation through entertainment, education, and family activities.
"We at Starlight are all very humbled by the generosity of Qdoba Mexican Grill and their employees as one of our national partners," says Paula Van Ness, CEO of Starlight. "Starlight is lucky to be partnered with a company that shares in our vision and is committed to our cause and we can't thank Qdoba enough for their dedication, time, and gifts throughout all of 2009."