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Social Impact

A Bright Future through the Power of Personal Connection

Todd Tillemans
President, U.S., The Hershey Company

It is human to seek connection with others. But today, our connections are increasingly dependent on screens and less on face-to-face interaction. This type of connection lends itself to contact with people we agree with and enables “walls” between us and those who see the world differently than we do.

But you’d be surprised how easy it is to melt the distance and make connections between people. Building connections with those around us has never been more important for our children, and the future of our communities.

That’s why, today, in honor of our founder’s greatest heartwarming act, – helping kids succeed through the Milton Hershey School – Hershey is announcing The Heartwarming Project. Our goal is to help parents, teachers, and kids build more meaningful connections and create a more inclusive and empathetic community.

From the beginning, Milton Hershey intended to use profits from his business to enrich communities and lives. Not only did he make chocolate accessible to all, but he built a school to help children realize their full potential, developed a town with homes for his employees, and established Hershey Park, so his employees could have a balanced life of work and play.

A century ago, Milton left his fortune to the Milton Hershey School, affirming his commitment to do well and do good. Our company’s success directly results in support for the Milton Hershey School and helping children around the world. This small act has had a transformative ripple effect on countless lives. So today, on Milton’s 161st birthday, we are taking that one ripple and creating a wave of heartwarming connections.

Building connections with those around us has never been more important for our children, and the future of our communities.

Meaningful connections and friendships are essential in today’s complex world. Hershey believes the smallest heartwarming gesture in our everyday moments can make a big difference, whether it’s having dinner-time conversation with your family, helping someone in need, or welcoming a new neighbor to the community.

We are partnering with leading organizations to provide programs and grants to create a future where social and emotional connections are central in our lives every day. Working with the Boys & Girls Club, Harvard University’s Making Caring Common Project, and, we will promote social and emotional connections at home, school, and in the community. We are dedicated to helping kids and families form connections with others to help us see the world through brighter eyes and take action to overcome what makes us feel isolated and disconnected.

Yes, Hershey makes chocolate and snacks. But we are also more than that. We bring people together, and that is what The Heartwarming Project is all about. This isn’t just a company slogan or advertising campaign, Hershey is packaging research, programs and ideas together for you to get involved in your community to learn about the power of heartwarming and help children and families build meaningful relationships. Whether that’s by creating a Back to School Kit to make sure everyone at your school has a friend, sharing tips to build confident kids and families, or by joining the WE Are Love Project and kicking off a local campaign to spread connection in your community. Download these tools here:

Our goal is to build a community of empathy, inclusion, kindness and connection. If the thought of that melts your heart, then call a friend, check in on a neighbor, or offer help to someone in need. The smallest gesture can have a big impact.

We look forward to seeing all the heartwarming moments you create! This is an ambitious goal, but so was inventing a high-quality, affordable chocolate bar 125 years ago. Join us!