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Costco CEO stuns young boy by responding to his email asking for help with school fundraiser

Costco really is the best.

Costco teddy bear
All images courtesy Lesley Cerwin

A 12-year-old student wrote Costco's CEO asking for help.

Imagine your 12-year-old son is helping take part in his school’s Valentine’s Day fundraiser. You’d probably be proud and encouraged at the way he’s getting involved and doing something good, right?

Now imagine, as part of that effort, he decided to email the CEO of Costco, one of the most beloved big box retailers in the world. Well, that’s cute, right? But what if he told you the CEO not only wrote back but went out of his way to donate exactly what your son asked for?

It may sound too good to be true, but that’s exactly what happened when Grant Cerwin sent an email to Costco CEO Craig Jelinek. The sixth grader emailed Jelinek asking if he would donate one of Costco’s famous 93-inch teddy bears to his middle school’s fundraiser in Los Angeles:




“Hi Mr. Jelinek,

My name is Grant Cerwin and I am 12 years old. I go to [removed] Middle School and am the 6th grade class rep. We want to raffle one of your giant bears as a Valentine’s Day fundraiser for our school. We are part of the Los Angeles Unified School District. Is there any chance Costco might donate one? My dad has a truck and we could come get it at the store. I would make sure everyone knew you gave it to us in our school newsletter, on social media and with a big sign by the bear. I know it is a long shot but I thought it couldn’t hurt to ask. We are also seeing how we might get enough money to buy one. Thanks for considering. Your friend, Grant.”

Costco CEO

12-year-old student Grant Cerwin writes to Costco CEO Craig Jelinek

Well, it turns out the long shot was perfectly timed.

Jelinek not only saw the email but jumped into action, asking his colleague "Can we find him a teddy?" Then his lieutenant emailed their colleagues to quickly find a bear for Cerwin’s school, writing: “Do whatever it takes to find a Big Bear and set up pick up for Lesley. Keep me posted.”

Costco CEO

Costco CEO Craig Jelinek steps in to help

Grant then received the following message from Costco:

“Good morning Grant. I am the Toy Supervisor at our Costco’s LA Regional office. I have good news, Costco will be donating a 93” Plush Bear to your school to use in your Valentine’s Day fundraiser! We could have it delivered to the school directly so your parents don’t have to worry about transporting it.”

Costco

Costco reached out directly to Grant Cerwin to help

With time to spare, the Big Bear was delivered to Grant and his school was able to include it in their fundraiser. And while moments like this don’t happen every day, they are a great reminder that even the biggest companies are run by real people and those people often have big hearts. Big, as in 93” plush bear big.

And let’s be honest, we’re not entirely shocked that this happened at Costco, a company that has built a well-earned reputation for treating both its customers and its employees with dignity and respect.

“It speaks volumes about the leadership at Costco that Grant got the response he did,” Grant’s mother Lesley Cerwin told Upworthy. “He is a boundlessly optimistic child and as a parent you worry the world will chip away at that positivity. I’m grateful that the team at Costco reaffirmed my son’s belief that the world is full of good people.”

“I couldn’t believe that they responded so fast and that so many people helped,” Grant told Upworthy. “They didn’t want anything, just to help our school.”

Costco bear

The Costco bear was delivered to Grant Cerwin and his classmates

Something as seemingly simple as a donated teddy bear might not sound like much, but it’s examples like this that show the power of bridge-building between companies and communities.

An act of kindness in itself can go a long way. And when that is coupled with the impact it had not only on Grant and his mom, but on Grant’s classmates, you can start to see a real impact that all started with a single email.

Costco bear

Grant Cerwin and his classmates pose with the Costco bear.

“My teachers and friends at school are excited,” Grant said. “We all can’t believe how big it is. It takes a bunch of us to move it around. Our ASB class is working on a thank you card.”

Plus, let’s be honest, a personal touch from someone as high-profile as Craig Jelinek and his team isn’t a bad way to build customer loyalty either. As Lesley told us, “I’ve always liked Costco. Will I be even happier to shop there now? You bet. It is a great store and now I am acutely aware that it is run by amazing people.”


This article originally appeared on 2.16.23

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