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Yankee Candle donates $20,000 to community

SOUTH DEERFIELD — The South Deerfield Fire Department can get four new radios, the Whately Fire Department can get a pump for an off road tanker and 16 Frontier Regional School graduates received $20,000 in college scholarships thanks to the Yankee Candle Company.

The candle company presented its annual town gifts Wednesday to its two host communities, Deerfield and Whately. For decades, Yankee has given its two host towns thousands of dollars in gifts, particularly scholarships to students and donations to local police, fire and ambulance departments to purchase equipment and improve service. The company is based in Deerfield with a 209,000-square-foot factory in Whately.

“One of the things I was most proud of is how we pride ourselves on being authentic, genuine and proud of our heritage and being part of the Pioneer Valley. It’s something that’s special for us and we try not to lose sight of,” said CEO Harlan Kent.

“We want to thank you for all you do,” he said, referring to the public safety officials.

Each fire department received a $4,000 donation. The South Deerfield Fire Department will use the money to purchase four portable radios to communicate with the fire ground commander. The goal is to outfit all the firefighters in five years, Deputy Chief Dennis Patterson said.

“It’s great. Otherwise, this program would take much longer to do,” said Patterson.

The Whately Fire Department will use the money to purchase a water pump for an off road tanker the town received last year from the state’s military surplus vehicles.

Seven of 16 former Frontier students returned to receive their scholarships with some students hailing from schools like the University of Massachusetts-Amherst and Harvard University.

“Over the years, Yankee has employed so many of our students,” said Superintendent Martha Barrett. “Students have always said how Yankee has told them how important education is. Yankee Candle has always been careful to make sure students weren’t missing class.”

Yankee Candle plans to give another $20,000 worth of scholarships to the class of 2014.

“In building a company, one of the most important things is recognizing how much support you need. We recognize it is critical to be a contributing member of the community,” said Kent.

Kent said the company will continue to contribute to the community under its new owners. In September, Madison Dearborn Partners LLC sold the company for $1.75 billion to Jarden Corp. of Rye, N.Y. Jarden is a Fortune 500 company specializing in the sale of niche products like Mr. Coffee, Ball canning jars, Tubbs snowshoes and Coleman camping products.

You can reach Kathleen McKiernan at: kmckiernan@recorder.com or 413-772-0261 ext. 268.

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