Update: Backpacks of Hope

Written by: Patrick Keiser, Corporate Trainer & Recruiter 

An organization’s core values can sometimes be seen as nice words, but unreflective of the company itself. However, when OneCoast speaks into a desire to make a difference in the community, this is truly embodied by the company and its employees.  This summer’s Backpacks of Hope initiative was a perfect example of how an organization working together can make a tremendous difference in a community.

Through the Backpacks of Hope initiative, OneCoast worked with Ethel Kight Elementary school in LaGrange, GA, Nathan Adams Elementary in Dallas, TX and Wendell P. Williams Elementary in Las Vegas, NV to provide backpacks and school supplies for the schools and students.  While backpacks, pencils, markers and glue can seem like basic necessities within a classroom, they are often not provided by the school, and are the burden is left on the teacher or student to provide.  In many areas, this means the classroom goes with basic school supplies.

The response to this year’s initiative was absolutely incredible.  In addition to receiving extraordinarily generous donations from our vendor partners DEMDACO and C.R. Gibson, OneCoast employees donated thousands of dollars of supplies at each show. This year, we also set up an online Wishlist which people could purchase from and send items to our showrooms. In creating this, we figured this would allow people to participate without worrying about filing up their luggage when they traveled to the show.

What we didn’t account for, and were blown away by, was the number of people who typically don’t attend one of the shows, but still wanted to participate. This gave them an avenue to do just that.  Prior to the beginning of each show this summer, we received notifications that the donation bins within the OneCoast and DEMDACO showrooms were already full, and the showroom managers were having to store the extra supplies elsewhere. Not a bad problem to have.

With school starting back up over the next several weeks, these schools are just beginning to see the impact of our donations. When our supplies were dropped off, many hugs were given and tears were shed demonstrating the power of the donations on these schools.  Ethel Kight Elementary has since used our donations for their annual Back to School Bash to provide supplies to students. Wendell P Williams Elementary was also able to provide brand new supplies to all of their new teachers’ classrooms.  By alleviating the burden put on educators to provide supplies for their classroom, we can allow them to focus their energies on providing exciting educational opportunities for their students.  In this way, OneCoast is making an enormous difference in these communities.

Welcome to the OneCoast Blog!

John Keiser, CEO, OneCoast

I am so happy that you are taking the time to read it.

After all, I did not want to do an average job. I wanted to do a GREAT job. And, it was that thinking that lead me back to the tag line.

I am excited to be the first “blogger” and I have been thinking about what I should write about.I have been using in my signature block for about 2 years: “Be GREAT Today!”. I have been asked multiple times about meaning of “Be GREAT Today!”  Many have talked about “the devil being in the details”. “Be GREAT Today” is another way to state that.  When you focus on “Being GREAT Today”, it means that every activity that you do in a day- no matter how large or small of an activity-, you work to do it in a great way. And, if you do every activity in a great way….. you will be great that day. And, if the “Be GREAT Today!” approach occurs day after day after day, just think about how great your performance would be!

OneCoast works hard at living by these three words. These three words “Be GREAT Today”- are our goal every single day. It’s what gives us the drive to go above and beyond, do the right thing for our retailers, for our vendors and for each other as a team.  It’s a personal and professional reminder of being great every day.

  • For our sales team, it is about being a partner to you our retailers, understanding your business and spending the time needed to help you be GREAT for your customers. Treating you like the one and only customer.
  • For our marketing team, it is about finding ways to provide beneficial resources that can be helpful in your everyday business.
  • For our Showroom and Merchandising team it is about going above and beyond to create inspiring displays that you can take back and re-create.
  • For OneCoast, it is our way of being and our way of reflecting our company culture and the foundation of our core values.

What would it mean to you and your business if every activity that was done in your store(s) in a day were done in a GREAT way? Perhaps your customer service would reach Zappos level! Perhaps each customer would tell a friend what a fabulous experience they had in your store and your customer count would increase. Now, we are all human, and greatness in every activity every day sets the bar pretty high. But one thing is certain, if we do not aim for it, we definitely will not hit it. And, the flip side is true…..if we focus on “Being GREAT Today” each and every day, we will be great more days than not.

I am grateful to have this platform to talk about the three words – “Be GREAT Today”- that really sum up who we are and what we strive for We hope you find this blog page a helpful tool for your business and another reflection of our continued effort to simply be GREAT.


About the Author:

John Keiser, CEO of OneCoast, has over 30 years of industry experience, working for both American Greetings and Enesco prior to joining OneCoast in 2003. He has been active in the Gift and Home Trade Organization (GHTA) serving as the Vice President of the organization in 2012, the President of GHTA in 2013 and currently serves as Chariman of the Board of the organization.