A big Ziegenfelder smile stretched all the way from Wheeling, West Virginia, to El Paso, Texas, today, when members of the “Zieggy Tribe” shared nearly 1,000 Twin Pops with Tom Lea Elementary.

Today’s cool excursion began in response to a tweet about the horrific Aug. 3 shooting at the El Paso Walmart that left 22 dead and many injured.

“A social media post started circulating highlighting an El Paso teacher’s request for notes of support to her students in the wake of the tragic Walmart shooting,” said Kelly Greathouse, marketing coordinator for the Ziegenfelder Co. She noted that Ziegenfelder’s Budgetsaver Twin Pops are distributed at Walmarts across the country.

“Barry Allen spotted the post on Twitter and wanted to help,” she said.

Allen is the company’s chief customer officer and chief people officer. And he doesn’t take his titles lightly. He’s all about the people.

“This giveback event organically developed because of the desire to help after seeing the tweet from Teresa Garrett. Teresa is a teacher at Tom Lea Elementary,” Allen said.

Garret’s tweet stated: “Hello. We are teachers in El Paso. We would like to know if anyone is interested in sending us postcards to help our students know there is plenty of good in our world. As teachers, we may only be able to say so much. We think concrete messages of support would help us calm some fears. Any thoughts?”

‘A LOT OF LOVE IN THIS WORLD’

Allen sent a letter to the school offering “Popsicles to help all your children smile,” noting that there is “still a lot of love in this world.”

The school’s response was this: “We would love to take you up on your generous offer to provide the students at Tom Lea Elementary with a Popsicle and a smile.”

So, Allen and three others — P.J. Turner, director of sales and marketing; Jamie Wilson, executive assistant; and Allison Lichwa, graphic designer — along with help from company mascot Cherry Larry, delivered close to 1,000 frozen treats during today’s pep rally — or POP rally.

“In advance of the visit, we’ve sent Cherry Larry coloring pages to the school so that we can encourage everyone to participate in a coloring contest to get everyone excited for the upcoming pep rally,” Greathouse noted, earlier this week.

#ELPASOSTRONG

“We were pleasantly surprised by Mr. Allen’s generosity and offer of a Popsicle for every Tom Lea student. … The response we have received has been overwhelming. We received letters and postcards from all around the country and the world,” Tessie Vallez, the school’s military family liaison, said.

The school had a visit from Chris Lowe, a woman who travels across the country in an RV paying kindness forward. “Her mission is to travel from state to state, spreading kindness and love across America. She made a special trip to El Paso to visit our students and deliver a positive message,” Vallez added.

And for Garret, when she opened the letter from Allen, “… it was pure excitement and joy for my students. … Just the thought of someone donating to almost 1,000 students makes my heart soar. It is so important to me to involve the whole school and not just my classroom,” she said.

“I think the biggest take away from all of this is the outpouring of love and support our community has received because of a simple request for positive notes. I love reading all the cards and letters from both young and old.”

Members of the Zieggy Tribe visit with teachers and staff at Tom Lea Elementary today in El Paso.

The fourth-grade teacher also received letters of encouragement from survivors of every mass shooting in the country.

“When I read them, I can feel how the letters are just as therapeutic for them as it is for me. … We have heard from most countries around the world and from every state in the USA.  All have the same message of kindness and encouragement,” Garrett said.

ALWAYS SHARING SMILES

The Zieggy Tribe is no stranger to making people smile.

While this is the first pep rally at a school, Greathouse noted that the Tribe has been doing events, referred to as “Cherry Larry’s Good Deeds,” for some time.

Students at Tom Lea Elementary School enjoy some cool treats, compliments of the Ziegenfelder Co.

“The Zieggy Tribe traveled to the West Virginia University Children’s Hospital in May with Cherry Larry to pass out pops to patients and their families. During another Good Deeds event, Cherry passed out pops to veterans and their families at the VA Hospital in Clarksburg, West Virginia,” Greathouse said. “The Zieggy Tribe hopes to continue coordinating similar giveback events through 2020.”

“Giving back is deeply woven into everything our Tribe does,” Allen said. “For example, in 2017, our Tribe created the Zieggy Impact Group, an employee-led group that oversees donation funds given to various community organizations. That group coordinates giveback opportunities for Tribe members across our three locations throughout the year. One such volunteer opportunity happened after flooding in Southern West Virginia when members of our Tribe traveled there to help rebuild homes.”

“Our Zieggy Tribe is dedicated to the values outlined in our Zieggy Essentials T.W.I.N.S. Values,” Allen said, noting that the “S” in the T.W.I.N.S. Values stands for “Serve Others.”

“[Today’s] giveback event is just another way our Tribe is living our mission of making people smile with our really cool treats,”

Having spent nearly 38 years as reporter, bureau chief, lifestyles editor and managing editor at The Times Leader, and design editor at The Intelligencer and Wheeling News-Register, Phyllis Sigal now serves as Weelunk’s managing editor. She lives in Wheeling with her husband Bruce Wheeler. Along with their two children, son-in-law and two grandchildren, food, wine, travel, theater and music are close to their hearts.

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