Patrick Robinson
Safeway employee Erika Swanson and Tracy Taylor KING5 Morning News personality were the winners of the Safeway/Easter Seals of Washington Bagging Challenge on April 2. The event was held to kick off the fundraising effort on behalf of Easter Seals and Autism Awareness Month. You can donate to the cause at any Safeway store this month. CLICK THE PHOTO ABOVE TO SEE MORE

SLIDESHOW: The 2012 Safeway Bagging Challenge for Autism Awareness Month won by Tracy Taylor & Erika Swanson

Safeway and Easter Seals are raising money at stores across the state; King 5 news people competed

Safeway stores and Easter Seals Washington are kicking off Autism Awareness Month with the 2012 Bagging Challenge at the West Seattle/Admiral District store at 2622 California Avenue S.W.

The event marks the beginning of Safeway’s month long promotion to raise money for Easter Seals at stores across Washington State.


Easter Seals Washington President/CEO Cathy Bisaillon said, "The mission of Easter Seals Washington is to help children and adults live, learn and play in their community so that could mean any disability from Autism to Cerebral Palsy to Down Syndrome to disabilities that are related to aging like Alzheimers. So we serve the lifespan of all people with disability. Today we're launching our partnership with Safeway (...)Autism is a growing epidemic. Just a few days ago it was revealed that 1 in 88 children are diagnosed on the autism spectrum. Families have a lot to deal with regard to socialization and learning is severely impacted. There are many agencies working on cause and cure. At Easter Seals we work on supporting the family."

By shopping at Safeway in April you can donate at the check stand. The funds raised are split between Easter Seals, Special Olympics and other organizations.
You can also visit the Easter Seals website to learn more about how to help.

KING 5 personalities Tracy Taylor, Mark Wright, and Jake Whittenberg teamed up with a Safeway employee with disabilities, and each team and were judged on bagging speed, care of items, and efficiency. Taylor and her partner Erika Swanson won the event with 11 points (including 1 bonus efficiency point).
Whittenberg was teamed with Mitchell Oien and Wright was teamed with Lisa Burke.

Safeway Seattle Division President Steve Frisby (recently transferred here from Portland, OR) and several other district managers for the chain were on hand for the event to congratulate the winners and address Safeway employees and customers.

Frisby said, "To date the generous Safeway Associates and customers have raised almost $110 million. Last year alone the Seattle Division of Safeway raised $1.2 million. Our goal this year is higher (...) contributing is easy. Whether it's a quarter, dime, nickel or penny no donation is too small. It all adds up. The funds raised in Seattle, stay in the Seattle area." Frisby also pointed out that the company has been a leader in hiring people of all abilities. He said, "I can tell you from personal experience that it's a benefit to us or any company to hire men and women such as we have on our team. These folks are often the heart of our team. They are loyal, they take pride in their work but mostly they make every day that much brighter in our stores both for our associates and our customers."

Judging Criteria
Speed (8 to 10…the fastest team got 10 points, etc.)
Bags packed with Care (1 point deducted for each: poorly packed eggs, chips, bread; dropped produce; cleaning products not in separate bag)
“Efficiency” Bonus Point: 1 bonus point for most efficiently packed bags

Safeway stores have raised nearly two million dollars for Easter Seals Washington over the past five Aprils, with all funds supporting Easter Seals Washington’s mission of helping people with disabilities live, learn, work, and play.

Bisaillon said that one of the primary beneficiaries of the funding in the past has been the Easter Seals supported Camp Stand By Me. "We serve over 400 people each summer and now thanks to Safeway's support we are serving people year round." She said that more than $100,000 of capital improvements have been made to the camp through donations. She also went on to say that some of the funds were just recently used to purchase iPads which will be given to top Autism clinics across the state. "We're spearheading this project so those iPads can be paired with children to take them home, learn on their own and communicate where they have never been able to before."

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