JFC to give $4.5 million to children’s charities

Jewelers for Children, the jewelry industry’s charity, announced that it will give $4.5 million to several children’s charities, during the Facets of Hope event, held June 4 at the Bellagio Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas, as part of the JCK Show. Mark Light, president and CEO of Sterling, Inc. and Edward Bridge, Co-CEO of Ben Bridge Jeweler, were honored during the eighth annual event.

Laurence Grunstein, president of Citizen Watch Co. of America and chairman of the board of JFC, announced that $ 5 million was raised for the fiscal year and more than 2,400 seats had been sold for the event, both record amounts for the charity.

“Our outstanding honorees and the dedicated work of our fundraising committee chaired by Howard Sherwood president of Daniel’s Jewelers, helped us to reach new heights and break all previous records,” Grunstein said.

Grunstein said JFC would be donating $ 4.5 million to charities that benefit children who are the victims of catastrophic illness, or life-threatening abuse and neglect. The 2006 amount brings the cumulative support the jewelry industry has given through JFC to more than $ 23 million.

The funds will be distributed in 2006 as follows:

* One million dollars to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital to continue funding the multi-year commitment JFC made for a research project into rebuilding the immune system of children who are undergoing treatment for life-threatening illnesses. Since 1999, JFC has donated nearly $5 million to St. Jude.

* One million dollars to the Make-A-Wish Foundation of America to once again fund the Wish A State program, granting the wishes of children with life threatening illnesses to enrich to the human experience with hope, strength and joy. Since 1999, JFC has donated nearly $ 5 million to the foundation to fund more than 750 wishes.

* One million dollars to the National Court Appointed Special Advocates Association to continue funding the Jewelers for Children Champions for Abused Children program. The program provides for more than 100 grants to be made to local CASA chapters across the country to recruit and train volunteer advocates for children who are in the foster care system. More than 1,000 children will benefit and the funds will allow CASA to start development of a national volunteer recruitment program. Since 2003, JFC has donated more than $ 3 million to the association.

* $685,000 to the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation, to fund a Jewelers for Children Scientist Award. The award will be presented to a researcher who has submitted an application for funding of a research project that will focus on helping to eradicate pediatric AIDS and treat the young victims of the deadly disease. Since 1999, JFC has donated more than $ 6 million to the foundation.

* $275,000 to the Jason Program to fund the Jewelers for Children Gems of Care program that will build and support a nationwide palliative care network that can be accessed by health care professionals and family members dealing with the impending death of a child.

* $340,000 will be placed in the Jeffrey W. Comment Memorial Endowment Fund to be used by JFC to support additional charities focused on children, which apply for funding from the program. In 2006, distributions were made to the Jason Program, the Starlight Starbright Children’s Foundation and the Association of Hole in the Wall Camps.

In addition, JFC and De Beers are co-funding the Integrated Childcare Program in the Galashewe area of South Africa. The program will fund the development of a support network for child-headed households in the area.  There are currently more than one million parentless households in the area and it is estimated that more than three million children will be orphans by 2010. Government institutions can currently handle only 100,000 children. The program will allow families to stay together and retain the meager assets they have.

Light, who has worked at Sterling, Inc., Akron, Ohio, since high school, is involved in a number of local organizations, as well as serving on a number of industry organization boards and committees, including JFC. Light thanked the industry for their involvement in the charity with a special thanks to his father, Nate Light for his support and encouragement through the years.

Bridge works at the company founded by his grandfather based in Seattle, Wash. He also serves a number of industry organization boards, including the board of directors of JFC. Bridge thanked his family and encouraged the attendees to look around the room and see how the entire industry has come together to support children in need.

The 2007 Facets of Hope event will be held June 3, 2007, at the Bellagio as part of the JCK Show ~ Las Vegas.