When we sat down with Rob Santoni, Manager of the Weis Markets location in Fullerton Plaza, our first order of business was to seek the answer to a question that has been on Baltimore County residents’ minds since the grocery chain started expanding across our region in the past decade.
How do you pronounce “Weis?”
Rob quickly and aptly responded, “Weis! As in, it’s a WISE decision to do your shopping here!”
Indeed it is, and it’s been a wise decision for us at the Student Support Network to request Rob’s assistance in feeding local families who are experiencing food insecurity. Both he and Weis Markets corporate executives share our concern for our local community, and for the health and well-being of our neighbors. And they’ve stepped up again and again to meet the hunger-related needs which have only increased throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.
Baltimore County Councilman David Marks introduced us to Rob early in the pandemic. Rob has worked with Weis Markets for more than eight years, after decades of helping run the now-shuttered Santoni’s Supermarkets which was founded by his grandfather in 1930. “I’ve always lived in this area,” says Santoni, “and I appreciate that Weis Markets trusts me, and gives all store managers the autonomy to allocate our charitable funds in ways that will really help our local communities.”
To help students living in poverty, and their families, during the height of the pandemic, Weis Markets donated $10,000 worth of gift cards, which we distributed through our partner staff and administration at Network schools. When we started our mass food distribution efforts, Rob would pull up in his own vehicle to drop off pallets of food. He and four other store managers chose Student Support Network as their charity to benefit from the Weis Markets 2020 Giving Tuesday initiative, an effort which raised almost $3,500. Weis Markets was also a proud sponsor of A Night for the Network, our fall 2021 fundraiser.
Rob is a runner (a fast one!) and his energy spills over into his work at Weis Markets. He’s not stopping anytime soon: we’re in the midst of preparing for this year’s Giving Tuesday partnership. Rob’s endurance has paid off; this year, he convinced all twelve Baltimore County Weis store managers to highlight the work of the Network on Giving Tuesday! Each store provides an up-front contribution of $500 (that’s $6,000 total!), and invites customers to donate $1, $3, or $5 at the register all day on November 30. Always setting his sights on lofty goals, Rob aims to raise $12,000 total, between store and customer contributions, during the one-day event, to continue feeding and equipping Baltimore County students.
Just as we keep inviting Rob and Weis Markets to support our students, we’re extending an invitation to the entire Network community this Giving Tuesday as well: join us in giving, to match the $6,000 that Baltimore County Weis Markets stores will donate. While Rob’s sport of running is an individual one, our Network plays as a team, and we are confident that together, we can exceed this goal and expand our assistance to even more children in need.