view current print edition




West Pak delves into charitable activities

by Brian Gaylord | January 21, 2009
Whether running for a cause or finding other ways to help, Temecula, CA- based West Pak Avocado Inc. is contributing to charitable efforts.

The company's first foray into the charitable realm was its participation in an annual five-kilometer road race in Temecula last fall on behalf of Susan G. Komen for the Cure, an organization that bills itself as "the largest source of non-profit funds dedicated to the fight against breast cancer in the world."

The road race drew some 13,000 participants, including 22 West Pak employees and their families. West Pak entered as a group, and the company made a donation to Susan G. Komen for the Cure.

"Last year (2008) was the first year we took a hard look at community service," said Trevor Newhouse, West Pak's information technology and marketing director, adding that the company's administration department as a whole is responsible for identifying any community service activity the company may want to support.

In addition to participating in the 5K event, West Pak designed a T-shirt for the event as part of a Susan G. Komen T-shirt contest. West Pak's design was awarded the race chairperson's choice for 2008.

"[The race] was a bonding experience for us," Mr. Newhouse said, adding that a number of employees have family members or friends who have been affected by cancer. The company's participation in the race was "so inspiring and so emotional" that the company plans to participate "every year from here on out," he said.

Temecula sits between Riverside and San Diego. The San Diego branch of Susan G. Komen for the Cure has contacted West Pak about participating in its 5K race in San Diego, and West Pak is considering it, Mr. Newhouse said.

Within weeks of the Temecula road race, West Pak initiated a charitable activity of a different kind. The company -- a grower-shipper of avocados, primarily the Hass variety -- donated about 4,000 avocados to an elementary school in Temecula. Berenice Martinez, West Pak's grower support representative for Mexico, gave a presentation on avocado nutrition and use to a gathering of students at the school. The school served the avocados to students for lunch.

"The teachers loved it -- it's not often that they get donations," Mr. Newhouse said. "The teachers want us back." West Pak delivered avocados to a pre-school program as well.

West Pak, which has been in business since 1982, grows avocados in California, Mexico and Chile. Avocados from Chile still are coming into the United States and the harvest in Mexico is in full swing. The California harvest will begin in earnest in February, Mr. Newhouse said.

West Pak is the sole licensee of avocados for the "Disney Garden" line, a line of character-themed fruit and vegetable snacks aimed at kids.

The company participates in the Produce for Kids initiative, which partners with sponsors and retailers across the country to raise funds to benefit the Children's Miracle Network.

"We're really open to looking at community service [in 2009]," Mr. Newhouse said. "I'm sure things will come along soon."