Progressive Produce receives Spirit of Hope award

08/09/2012 05:41:00 PM
Tom Burfield

CERRITOS, Calif. — Progressive Produce Corp., Commerce, Calif., received the Spirit of Hope award from the City of Hope during the La Mirada, Calif.-based Fresh Produce & Floral Council’s City of Hope luncheon Aug. 8.

The council sponsors the event annually to show the support of the Southern California produce community for the Duarte, Calif.-based cancer hospital and research center.

City of Hope fundraiserTom BurfieldKent Kuwata, category manager, sales and merchandising for Smart & Final Stores LLC, Commerce, Calif., challenges people to donate at the Aug. 8 City of Hope luncheon hosted by the La Mirada, Calif.-based Fresh Produce & Floral Council. Kuwata helped raise more than $5,000 in just minutes when he pledged $100 to the City of Hope and challenged others in the audience to do the same. Athena Miller, last year’s luncheon speaker and daughter of Jeff Miller of Westlake Produce Co., and Dawn Cruz, this year’s speaker, look on. “Giving back is ingrained in the Progressive Produce philosophy,” said Marty Craner, president of B&C Fresh Sales, Orange, Calif., who serves on the leadership committee of the Produce & Floral Division of the City of Hope Food Industries Circle.

Not only does the company’s leadership commit its time and resources to worthwhile causes, but the company encourages its employees to do the same, she said.

Dawn Cruz gave a firsthand account of the care provided by the City of Hope by sharing the story of her bout with breast cancer.

“I received care that far exceeded my expectations from the City of Hope,” she said.

Dawn Cruz is the wife of Rick Cruz, manager of division operations for produce at the Santa Fe Springs, Calif., location of Pleasanton, Calif.-based Vons/Safeway supermarkets and 2012 chairman of the Fresh Produce & Floral Council,

She told FPFC members that “a big reason for my recovery is those like you” who support the City of Hope.

“It has been a difficult journey, and I have felt you all at my side as I made the steps toward recovery,” she said.

Several companies were recognized for their participation in a rebate program that raised more than $100,000 for the cancer center.

Those companies are:

  • BC Tree Fruits Ltd., Kelowna, British Columbia;
  • California Table Grape Commission, Fresno;
  • Consolidated West Distributing Inc., Commerce;
  • DLJ Produce Inc., Industry;
  • Henry Avocado Corp., Escondido;
  • Progressive Produce;
  • All Fresh Produce Inc., Los Angeles;
  • Hollandia Produce LLC, Carpinteria;
  • Westlake Produce Co., Los Angeles; and
  • WJL Distributors Inc., Los Angeles.

In all, the industry raised $210,000 through its annual raffle and rebate program.

Winner of the raffle’s $10,000 grand prize was Consolidated West Distributing, which donated the money to the City of Hope.

Kent Kuwata, category manager, sales and merchandising, for Smart & Final Stores LLC, Commerce, capped off the luncheon by helping raise more than $5,000 in just minutes when he pledged $100 to the City of Hope and challenged others in the audience to do the same.



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