Purple Pinkies promoted to end polio

Rotary Clubs are going purple for World Polio Day | End Polio Saturday, Oct. 24, as Dunkin’ Donuts supports the End Polio Now campaign by kicking off its 2020 Dunkin’ Donuts Purple Pinkie Day for Polio Eradication Tuesday, Oct. 20.

The Rotary Club of Farragut members heard from Dave Baumgartner — a downtown Knoxville Rotary member and president of Bluemont Group, which owns Dunkin’ Donuts, and his marketing director Margo Hughes, who came up with Purple Pinkie Day — during RCF’s Wednesday, Sept. 23, virtual meeting.

On Oct. 20, Dunkin’ Donuts guests who donate $2 to End Polio Now at participating locations will receive a Purple Pinkie Donut, which is a glazed doughnut stick with a dab of purple frosting on the end to depict children’s pinkies being dipped in purple ink to mark they have been immunized, Baumgartner said.

Last year, District 6780, of which RCF is a part, raised $540,000 for End Polio Now. He said this year’s project has been expanded statewide with a goal of $1 million going to Rotary International’s Polio Plus.

Baumgartner recalled one young employee asking him, “What is polio?”

According to CDC Global Health, four regions are certified polio free: the Americas, Europe, South East Asia and Western Pacific, but Baumgartner said there still are three countries in which polio remains: Nigeria, Pakistan and Afghanistan.

Dunkin’ Donuts locations throughout Knoxville, Chattanooga and Murfreesboro partnered with Tennessee Rotary Clubs to host the fundraiser.

Baumgartner strongly encourages Purple Pinkie Donut pre-orders to ensure an adequate supply with minimal waste.

He started Bluemont Group in 2008 and became a member of the downtown club in 2011.

“One of the things that we found particularly important for our culture was to have a greater purpose” Baumgartner said. “We started this project because I wanted our company to have a greater purpose than just retail sales, and I’ve been teaching our employees Rotary’s motto of ‘Service Above Self.’”

By 2017, Bluemont had 37 stores, and Baumgartner recalled he was “trying to figure out how we could use these retail outlets for some fundraising.”

A year later, though, he and Hughes sat down and she came up with the “purple pinkie.”

“That seemed like a great idea, so we went after it in 2018,” Baumgartner added, noting at that time “we didn’t know about the matching possibilities.”

Later on the state district matched donations, along with a match from the Bill and Melissa Gates Foundation. “That $20 for one box with matches becomes $180 per box,” he said.