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Empowering employees to get involved
Though Kickin’ Chicken is best known for dishing up plenty of poultry—chicken fingers, sandwiches, salads, and wings—in a fun, family-friendly atmosphere, the Lowcountry staple also deserves recognition for outstanding community service. Ever since the first of the restaurant’s seven locations opened in 1997, cofounders David Miller, Bobby Perry, and Chip Roberts have prioritized giving back. “It’s important for companies to recognize that they are part of a community that extends far beyond business,” explains Miller.
And these business partners lead by example, each pursuing individual volunteer endeavors. Perry sits on the board of the Charleston and Summerville Miracle Leagues, inspired by players getting the chance to enjoy a classic American pastime. “Watching the smiles on the faces of both the kids and adults when they make contact with the ball and make their way around the bases is very exciting,” he says. Meanwhile, Roberts is a board member of Camp Happy Days, and Miller spends time stacking cans and balancing the books for the James Island Outreach food pantry.
Lucky for the Lowcountry, the cofounders’ charitable spirit is contagious. “Having a close-knit crew of 250 employees allows us to relay our passions, empowering team members to volunteer for our causes and to establish their own,” says Roberts. Kickin’ Chicken employees can be found volunteering, participating, and serving up wings and fries at Miracle League games and Camp Happy Days fundraisers, such as the Charleston Bed Race. Staff members also dig into their wallets each year to buy holiday gifts for children with cancer. “The owners and employees have the most tender hearts for helping these kids,” says Camp Happy Days programs director Teresa Bishop. “We are honored to have their support!” Likewise, at an employee appreciation party in February, attendees brought in more than 300 pounds of canned food for James Island Outreach.
In addition to their hands-on volunteer work, the company happily shares its financial success. During its annual Month of Giving in April, for instance, Kickin’ Chicken sends a percentage of its sales to local schools and nonprofits. Last spring, it raised more than $17,000 for organizations such as YESCarolina and Dorchester Children’s Center. Miller sums up the Kickin’ Chicken philanthropic mission best: “We are blessed because we give, and we give because we are blessed.”
Pay It Forward: “Because we have been so lucky in business, we are able to reward staff members who serve the community,” says cofounder Chip Roberts. In February, the company-wide Altruism Award was given to Heather Rohrig, a Summerville employee who volunteers for fundraisers, teacher appreciation luncheons, and more.
Big Spenders: Over the past six years, Kickin’ Chicken has donated more than $120,000 to nonprofits such as Dee Norton Lowcountry Children’s Center, Children’s Museum of the Lowcountry, My Sister’s House, and East Cooper Community Outreach.
School Rules: The restaurant awards two to three $2,000 scholarships to employees who perform in the workplace and the classroom. A $10,000 scholarship to Trident’s Culinary Institute of Charleston was awarded to line cook Robbie Durham this fall.