With the objective to promote sound development of the local community by contributing to the growth of children, who are its future members, and nurturing a future generation that is full of gratitude, we began holding the Thank You Letter Contest from 2009 for elementary school students throughout Japan.
The way we communicate with each other is changing as emails become the central mode of communication. Expressing the feeling of gratitude in hand-written letters enables children to think about their feeling. This not only enriches their sensitivity, but also helps them grow into adults capable of genuine expression of gratitude. We believe that this will serve as a foundation for communication in the future.
All our stores and staff across Japan organize the Thank You Letter Contest in cooperation with the local community, mainly schools. The contest is meant for elementary school students and hopes to contribute to their healthy growth and emotional wellbeing as well as energizing the community.
We have received a total of roughly 320,000 submissions across the ten contests held until now. The contest has taken on a grand scale with participation from a total of 16,000 elementary schools and about 40,000 submissions every year.
In FY2019, the contest received high acclaim for its 10-year long contribution to Japanese language learning and moral education. The contest, which was being held by FamilyMart alone, has not only started receiving backing from the National Council of Municipalities Boards of Education and Japan Federation of Primary School Principals Association, but is also a supported program by the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology now.
Additionally, prize-winning submissions from past contests are also being used as part of school curriculum, an example of which is their inclusion in the textbook on moral education (2018 edition) by two companies. FamilyMart employees conduct award ceremonies at the schools attended by the students who win the Best Achievement Award. These ceremonies are joined by the winners’ families as well. We also display the winning submissions on in-store posters and talk about them on in-store public address systems.
FamilyMart stores actively seek submissions from nearby schools. We display the pieces inside stores and make other efforts to get children engaged in the community and provide a platform to showcase their achievements.
FamilyMart Children’s Cafeteria is an initiative to support the revitalization of local communities by providing a place to have fun meals together and opportunities for community-based interaction. It is meant for local children and their parents.
Apart from providing a place to enjoy meals, some stores also offer hands-on experience of handling the cash register, visits to staff-only areas and other programs, offering a combination of fun meals and experiential events.
These meals and events not only encourage interaction with the head and staff of the stores in the local area, but also promote communication between the participants. We hope residents will use the stores as a place to connect in communities.
We are increasing the number of stores that offer this program based on feedbacks from participants that they had fun and would like to take part again.
The Child Store Manager initiative allows children to experience the actual work of FamilyMart stores.
They get hands-on experience of handling the cash register and learning how to display products for sale in the store.
As an experiencing to learn about actual work while enjoying it, the initiative has received praise not only from children but also their parents.
FamilyMart endorses the mission of the Bell Mark activities, “allowing all children alike to receive an education in an excellent environment," and was the first — and is currently the only — convenience store selling rice balls with the Bell Mark. FamilyMart has set up Bell Mark donation collection boxes at each of its stores and gives part of the donations to nearby elementary schools. The remaining donations, along with Bell Mark donations collected at the head office, contracted food production plants, and other sites, are donated to elementary schools that have been affected by natural disasters such as the Great East Japan Earthquake and Kumamoto Earthquake.
Bell Mark donations are used to purchase educational equipment and supplies for and otherwise improve the learning environments at each school.