St. Louis, MO,
08:00 AM

New Wheels and More Snacks

Taking a time out to send happiness through kind words and creativity.

It’s midday and a rumbling stomach interrupts your work. You need a snack. You could go to the vending machine and find a sorry bag of chips, or you could get a box of goodies from smiling faces.

The Down Syndrome Association of Greater St. Louis (DSAGSL), one of 40 $25,000 State Farm® Neighborhood Assist® grant winners in 2019, provides an employment program that supports about 25 individuals seeking jobs and internships. One opportunity is the Pop Up Snack Shop Micro-Business. Fourteen individuals with Down syndrome run the business – from marketing to assembly and direct sales. Snack boxes range from healthy to sweet to salty and more options.

“The Pop Up Snack Shop was a way to provide training and awareness in the community, and it blew up,” says Down Syndrome Association of Greater St. Louis Executive Director Erin Suelmann. “It’s grown so much, we can’t keep up with demand.”

Pop Up Snack Shop sets up in a business’s lobby or office and offers snack boxes for $5. All packing, labeling, set up and sales are handled by individuals with Down syndrome in the employment program.

“They learn service skills, executive functions and sales skills with the Pop Up Snack Shop,” Erin says. “Now we can provide more opportunities for job seekers and put additional revenue back into the program by visiting more businesses each month.”

When DSAGSL learned it was a finalist for the $25,000 State Farm Neighborhood Assist grant, a social media and email marketing plan was created to get the community involved in the voting phase.

“We did a ton on social media and have a large number of supporter information in our database. We posted on social media every day to make people aware we were finalists and asking them to vote,” Erin says. “This was a great way to raise awareness about what we do and have people rally around us.”

Eureka, Mo., State Farm Agent Kelly Ruby was featured in a video promoting the DSAGSL employment program. She hired Megan Layton from the program five years ago.

“The organization asked us to support their employment initiative to help adults with Down syndrome gain employment outside of the typical workshop or back office setting,” Kelly says. “We have been so lucky to employ Megan Layton. This employment initiative has blossomed, offering adults with Down syndrome the ability to run their own business. The State Farm grant will help this effort grow.”

With the grant, a new van will be purchased for the snack shop, allowing more stops each month.

“Without support of companies like State Farm in ways like this grant, we would not be able to serve our community,” Erin says. “We rely on support of individuals and company partners to provide programming that is life changing. We’re grateful to State Farm for this grant.”

Through the State Farm Neighborhood Assist grant program, part of the Neighborhood of Good®, 40 causes are receiving a $25,000 grant to fund projects in education, safety and community development. In 10 days, 163,000 people cast 4.4 million votes in support of their favorite causes. For a complete list of this year’s Top 40 causes, visit the Neighborhood Assist website.

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