Christmas is an extra special time for giving to family and friends — and sometimes beyond. Giving Tuesday, in November, is a designated time to give to nonprofits and foundations
Sonny’s BBQ celebrated Giving Tuesday this year by awarding a special employee their Giving Tuesday 2023 Award. They surprised Buford employee Kimberly (Dawn) Jackson with the honor. Jackson was also awarded the opportunity to help Sonny’s BBQ’s Chief Kindness Officer with company initiatives throughout the coming year.
As part of the award, Sonny’s donated $2,500 to the charity of Jackson’s choice — she chose Random Acts.
The North Gwinnett Voice had the opportunity to ask Jackson some questions about the award process and to touch base with Sonny’s BBQ and Chief Kindness Officer, Tara Boyle.
NGV: Why were you personally presented with the Giving Tuesday Award?
Jackson: “I am currently the Kindness Officer at our store, which means I lead our local kindness initiatives here in Buford. I am also very involved with various groups and do a lot of work with local homeless people. When I heard about this opportunity, I submitted a form for myself because I wanted to get involved in this work at a higher level and larger scale.”
NGV: What opportunities did this create for you with Sonny’s BBQ’s Chief Kindness Officer and anything related to that?
Jackson: “It is a huge privilege to have the opportunity to work with our Chief Kindness Officer and the Kindness Crew. I love to give back to my community, but up until now it’s been pretty small-scale things that I can do on my own for little to no cost. Working with this team is going to provide the opportunity to do much greater work for many more people and that is the most incredible part.”
NGV: What can you tell us about what the charity you chose does, in relation to why you specifically chose them?
Jackson: “[I chose] Random Acts. There are so many great organizations doing amazing work out there. I chose Random Acts because of my involvement with the organization over the past ten years. I was originally introduced to Random Acts by my daughter-in-law, who encouraged me to get involved. What I love most about the organization is that they are not specifically focused on any one thing — they give back to so many different communities in need and they do not discriminate.”
NGV: Can we learn a little more about how long Sonny’s has been doing this — like, how it started — and what their goals are for it within and outside of the company?
Tara Boyle, Sonny’s BBQ Chief Kindness Officer: “At Sonny’s we are committed to serving our communities, and this initiative allows us to highlight the employees who truly exemplify that commitment on a daily basis. When we began this campaign four years ago, we hoped it would inspire other Sonny’s team members and the broader public to consider how they can give back to their community. This year we are so grateful to continue shining a light on philanthropy and wonderful people like Dawn who embrace the spirit of giving.”
NGV: If this has been done in previous years, who were some previous recipients and winners? What projects have been undertaken in connection with it?
Sonny’s BBQ: “In 2020, Sonny’s began their Giving Tuesday program, in which three team members are awarded for their commitment to their community to join the Kindness Crew as the brand donates $2,500 to a charity of their choice.
In its inaugural year, Claudia, Jessica, and Tara were selected to join the Kindness Crew. Tara is now the Chief Kindness Officer at Sonny’s, and has made a big impact with her work on the Kindness Crew. She began a program at her local Sonny’s and has made a big impact with her work on the Kindness Crew. She began a program at her local Sonny’s called BBQ to the Rescue, which provides food to various communities and organizations in need. Once joining the Kindness Crew, she was able to expand this program to all Sonny’s locations.
Other recent initiatives done by the Kindness Crew include:
- Partnering with Coca-Cola Holiday Caravan last winter to volunteer and pass out free BBQ in Palm Harbor
- Conducting a school supply drive in Apopka, Florida last year
- Completing the 2023 CKO Roadshow, in which the Chief Kindness Officer travels to various Sonny’s locations to volunteer and make donations for local charities and nonprofits.”
And, check out this video for more highlights of this year’s Giving Tuesday Awards from Sonny’s BBQ.