Alderson honored as humanitarian
Wednesday, 01 May 2013 13:24

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Danielle Alderson, Humanitarian of the Year. photo by Ben Boehl

The Optimist Club of Dundalk will honor Humanitarian of the Year Danielle Alderson and Citizen of the Year Joe Cristy on Tuesday, May, 21, at 6:30 p.m. at the UAW hall, 1010 Oldham St. For more information, call 410-288-6795 or 410-285-3899.

Chick-fil-A operator is tapped for local charitable work

by Ben Boehl

Danielle Alderson is no stranger to the Dundalk community; she has been at Chick-fil-A restaurant locations at Eastpoint Mall for the past 22 years. She started at Chick-fil-A at the age of 14, when the store was located at the Applebee’s location in the mall. She later became the Eastpoint store’s operator.
    She has been also involved in the community, and her charitable work has earned her the honor of Humanitarian of the Year from the Optimist Club of Dundalk.
    “It is a very humbling leadership award. I don’t do it by myself,” Alderson. “I did it with my Chick-fil-A staff and the community. I learned that if you treat them all good, they will keep coming back. Dundalk is loyal to the local businesses.”
    Alderson was nominated by Joe Stadler, who was the Optimist Club’s Citizen of the Year in 2011.   
    Members of Alderson’s Chick-fil-A team did not know that she had won the award from the Optimist Club.
    “Please know that she is a very humble person who gives her team of employees all the credit for the community work that Chick-fil-A has provided for the greater Dundalk community,” Stadler wrote in his recommendation letter.
    When the Chick-fil-A stand-alone building opened in 2009, Alderson took over that restaurant and is still the operator there today.
    “The transition was smooth. We got help from other local operators. I brought my top leadership along with my top employees,” Alderson said. “We knew the community and had a relationship with the schools in the community.”
    Stadler highlighted some of the programs that Alderson has helped coordinate, especially for younger people.
    He pointed out that Alderson has awarded 25 S. Truett Cathy Scholarships (named for the chain’s founder) to employees of the restaurant. After a team member works for 1,800 hours and gets a letter of recommendation, they will be offered a $1,000 scholarship.
    “This is not competitive, and it is open to anyone that works here,” Alderson noted. “You can be 32 and go back and get your [associate’s degree]. This way, our employees stay here longer.”
    Stadler added that Chick-fil-A has also raised over $20,000 for the Sparrows Point High School athletic program and donated five bleacher chairs to the Patapsco High athletic program.
    Alderson also gave back during the holidays, as she sponsored  a Santa Claus Anonymous event and hosted eight families in need from the Colgate area for dinner and dessert at Chick-fil-A. Children got a treat as a Chick-fil-A Santa cow gave out toys, scarves, hats and gloves as presents.
    “It was a private moment to share, but this is her passion for our community,” Stadler noted. “A small way to show love and compassion to a few and to thank the community that has been the home of Chic-fil-A since 1980.”
    According to Stadler, Alderson has made countless donations to the community. She has set up 38 VIP dinners where Chick-fil-A provides dinner to a small family to dine at the restaurant at a private table while being served by an attendant.
    Alderson’s restaurant has also made food donations to over 30 groups and their events, hosted 30 teacher luncheons and has held over 125 Spirit Night Fundrasiers.
    This event encourages groups to get family and friends to come out to Chick-fil-A and 20 percent of sales goes back to that group.
    “I had come to know that the generosity of Danielle Alderson and Chick-fil-A was quite impressive. Only after doing my research did I realize that this is beyond impressive,” Stadler added. “It is more than generosity. It is a love for other people that makes Danielle a true humanitarian. I am proud to nominate her for all her efforts in making the Greater Dundalk community a better place to live.”
    Alderson credits learning from former Dundalk and now current Perry Hall Chick-fil-A owner and operator Steve Pavlosky, whom she said taught his employees to give back to the area.
    “It is very humbling, I don’t do it for the recognition,” Alderson added. “We do it for the community.”