A bunch of Hallmark Cards executives took one for the team Thursday afternoon, courtesy of Kansas City Royals catcher Salvador Perez.
In full business dress, in ugly shorts, or even totally prepared in goggles and swim cap, a parade of Hallmark division leaders volunteered for Perez to dump one, or two, and in one case, three, buckets of water on their heads.
In front of a cheering crowd of Hallmarkers, Perez upended coolers over selected division heads outside the company’s Kansas City headquarters. The event celebrated the end of a company fundraising drive to benefit Harvesters - The Community Food Network.
Teams of Hallmark employees competed for two weeks to see which work divisions would raise the most money per capita. Winning team leaders could elect to take the cooler cascade themselves or make Perez douse the head of a losing team.
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In past years, in similar fundraising events, the winners almost always chose losers to take whatever punishment was meted out. This year — perhaps lured by celebrity — most of the winners chose to get wet. Al Mauro, representing the legal division, took it a dress suit, tie and leather shoes, pausing only to pass off his cell phone.
One who didn’t was Molly Biwer, Hallmark’s head of public affairs and communications. Biwer begged off on the grounds that she wasn’t wearing the right shirt or shoes to get wet. Instead, she goaded CEO Don Hall Jr. and president Dave Hall. The brothers linked arms and grinned broadly as Perez soaked them from head to shoes.
“I didn’t expect it,” Don Hall said, “But it was for a great cause.”
Hallmark’s annual collection drive is one of the biggest in the city to benefit Harvesters. The company won’t reveal the dollar donation amount, but Harvesters reports that it’s equal to 282,000 meals.
Don Hall said he wasn’t surprised at the outpouring of donations from Hallmarkers. “This is a creative and committed group, and they think very hard about how to fill the needs in this community,” he said.
Harvesters this year asked Hallmark — one of its largest donor groups in the city — to move its drive up to the early summer because of low stocks in area food pantries. Food donations are particularly important in the summer months when low-income children aren’t getting meals at school.
Perez, well known for ambushing post-game interviews by dumping coolers of ice water on the game’s most valuable player, had other reasons to be the featured attraction. The company has chosen him to represent the Royals in Hallmark’s merchandise sales with a Salvy Itty Bitty doll and a Salvy tree ornament.
“We have a special relationship with Salvy, and this was an off day for baseball, and the Royals support Harvesters, too, so this just worked out,” said Hallmark spokewoman Jaci Twidwell.
Meanwhile, hundreds of Hallmarkers cheered and snapped a lot of pictures.