Panda Cares

Christina O'Connor
Wednesday - August 10, 2011
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Pictured (from left) are Aaron Zhifeng Wu, Panda Area coach of operations; John Zhang, Panda regional director; Stacey Acma, director of Kapiolani Children’s Miracle Network; and Richard Kakuni, Panda training leader. Photo by Patricia Almirez

The Panda Restaurant Group might be best known for its Chinese food chain Panda Express, but in recent years the company also has established a strong community presence in Hawaii and other states. In 1999, Panda cofounders Andrew and Peggy Cherng decided that they wanted to do something to give back to the community. From that idea, a philanthropic branch of the company, called Panda Cares, was born. Recently, Panda Cares donated $73,800 most of which came from employees to Kapiolani Children’s Miracle Network (CMN).

“(The donation) is going to allow us to buy ... a pediatric anesthesia machine, which allows the anesthesiologist to manage medicine that’s given to children,” says Stacey Acma of Kapiolani CMN. Acma explains that the machine is an innovative piece of technology that enables even newborn babies to receive anesthesia, and that it will be the only one of its kind in the state. “The hospital, being a nonprofit, doesn’t always have the funds to buy everything ... so we’re really, really excited,” she says.

Panda Cares has been working with various CMN hospitals since 2007 and raises money for a different one each year. “We really want to emphasize the kids’ needs,” says John Zhang, the regional director of Panda Restaurant Group.

“Through supporting Kapiolani, they are able to reach children in the community where their restaurants have employees and customers,” adds Acma.

“We install donation boxes in our restaurants,” Zhang explains. “And then the company matches that 100 percent.” Managers from Panda restaurants also contributed funds to the sum at the annual Leadership Conference held in Hawaii this year. Panda Cares strives to create a culture of giving and community service, and stresses these values to all employees. Panda Cares also has been involved with the March of Dimes and Special Olympics.

“This is a really clear representation of how every individual person out there doing a little bit can make a gigantic difference in the health and welfare of the children of Hawaii,” says Acma.


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