AMAZON LEVERAGES ITS SCALE TO DO GOOD, MAKING VARIED INVESTMENTS TO SUPPORT THE STATEN ISLAND COMMUNITY
BY JESSICA JONES-GORMAN • PHOTOS BY AMESSE PHOTOGRAPHY
When Amazon opened its first Staten Island fulfillment center in 2018, borough residents questioned whether the retail behemoth would bring any sort of substance to the borough. Yes, the commerce titan can deliver anything from toys to tech in less than 24 hours, fulfilling just about every shopping whim imaginable, but in a community that prides itself on small business – mom and-pop pizzerias and coffee shops are the primary sponsors for little league teams and school fundraisers – would a company of this scale fit in? After a $50,000 donation and promised partnership with Staten Island University Hospital, even many of the borough’s harshest critics now say yes.
“We are a big corporation so we have a huge opportunity to make a difference,” noted Traci Weishalla, assistant general manager at JFK8, Staten Island’s flagship Amazon Fulfillment Center. “In the community where we live and work, we want to be a partner. Giving back means a lot to our employees and the communities where we are located. So for Amazon, it’s very important for us to be a good corporate citizen.”
Referencing “Amazon Goes Gold,” an annual campaign designed to raise awareness and funds during Childhood Cancer Awareness Month (September), Weishalla detailed why the company places importance on supporting this cause.
“Every year almost 100,000 children globally die from cancer, and more than 300,000 children will be diagnosed with pediatric cancer this year,” she said. “In addition to partnering with hospitals like SIUH to support their mission and patients, Amazon also colors packages gold (the official color of Childhood Cancer Awareness) during the month of September to further increase awareness across its network.”
Launched in 2017, the Amazon Goes Gold campaign has raised millions for pediatric cancer research to date. The company’s PJammin’ events, during which Amazon employees around the world wear pajamas, the battle uniform for children fighting cancer during treatment and recovery, compliment this charitable drive.
“JFK8 won $50,000 to donate to SIUH in 2019, based on having the highest number of employees among all Amazon fulfillment centers across the country participate in the PJammin’ event,” Weishalla explained. “And Amazon has donated to and engaged with SIUH in several other ways in 2020. When the company found out that the hospital was building a new pediatric oncology wing, we wanted to do every – thing possible to help out. Amazon is all about making a large impact, donating money that will help people in the community for years to come. Our employees and their families use SIUH for all of their medical needs. We want to make sure the hospital has all of the funding it needs to create the best medical experience possible.”
Referring to Amazon Goes Gold as just one of the ways Amazon leverages its scale for good and makes investments to support communities, Weishalla also cited some of the recent, more personalized events it has hosted with SIUH. A Christmas party was hosted for pediatric oncology patients in the Regina McGinn Center last December, and at the peak of the COVID crisis Amazon donated $5,000 to the SIUH COVID-19 Emergency Fund. A postcard exchange between patients and Amazon employees is currently ongoing.
“Last year when we won the initial $50,000 with our PJammin’ event, we hosted a wonderful holiday party for over 100 patients and their families during which we officially donated the money to the hospital. There was face painting, presents, and holiday games. But this year because of COVID we realized that an on-site event was impossible. So we decided to do something different to show that we were still thinking of them. Our postcard exchange has been a success; the children are excited to receive our postcards and they create beautiful pieces of art to send back.”
Looking ahead, Amazon plans on continuing this philanthropic collaboration with SIUH.
“We’re always looking for more ways to get involved in the community. We love our collaboration with SIUH and look forward to expanding upon it in the future.”
Staten Island University Hospital Foundation
475 Seaview Avenue, Staten Island
718.226.2746 / give.northwell.edu/support-us#hospitals