June 15, 2022 – Allentown, PA – To celebrate its 100th year as the “the Hot Dog King” in the Lehigh Valley, Yocco’s made a grand gesture to create an endowment fund with the Catholic Foundation of Eastern Pennsylvania to provide long-term support for Mercy School for Special Learning which has served children and young adults with special needs for 68 years.
Gary Iacocca, President, and his son Chris Iacocca, Vice President Operations, recently presented a $100,000 check to the Catholic Foundation to start the Mercy School Teacher Excellence Endowment Fund. The occasion marked the midway point of the centennial year of Yocco’s founding in 1922. Yocco’s is a fourth-generation, family-owned fast food restaurant chain specializing in hotdogs, cheesesteaks, pierogies and other quick-to-eat food items.
While Yocco’s marketing materials claim the “secret” to its success “is in the Sauce,” employees and customers know it’s the love, loyalty and generosity that the Iacocca family show to the community that has never wavered for a century.
“My family and our Yocco’s employees have always had a soft spot in our hearts for our community and particularly for the Mercy School,” Gary Iacocca said. “This endowment fund will ensure that Mercy will have the future income it needs to provide the best academic experience for its students and teachers.”
The Iacoccas and Yocco’s employees have been fundraising for Mercy for almost 30 years with the placement of donation collection canisters at all six Yocco’s locations in the Lehigh Valley. However, the centennial gift represents an accumulation of donations received during the past two years from Yocco’s loyal customers, hardworking employees and committed corporate leadership. The Iacoccas and their team noticed an increase in generosity since Covid-19 started.
“We saw a rise in giving during the pandemic,” Gary said. “Our customers were glad to see we were open and able to provide them with our famous hot dogs, and the fun, comfort food they love. Their extra special display of gratitude towards supporting our campaign for Mercy School is heartwarming.”
With the influx of support, Gary contacted the Catholic Foundation to discuss creating an endowment fund that would provide ongoing support for the Mercy School.
“A big lesson learned during the pandemic is that non-profit organizations can no longer back-burner actions to create endowment funds,” Pete Waldron, President of the Catholic Foundation, said. “An endowment fund becomes a fiscal vaccine for crisis preparedness and a lifeline to a healthy future for any non-profit organization.
“The Catholic Foundation applauds the Iacocca family and Yocco’s for having the vision to create an endowment fund that will generate steady income for the future and allow Mercy School to fulfill its mission forever.”
During the past five years, Waldron has noticed an increase in individual donors, like Iacocca, starting endowment funds to support their favorite Catholic causes. Once an endowment fund is opened, people can add to it with additional gifts now (cash or IRA distribution) or later (gift in a will, IRA beneficiary or memorial gifts in an obituary).
The Yocco’s team will continue its ongoing fundraising effort to grow Mercy’s endowment funds.
“We are confident our customers will join our employees and company leadership in continuing to support this cause,” Gary said. “There always will be a need to help the students and families served by the Mercy School.”
And no one knows the needs better than Iacocca. Gary’s involvement with Mercy began almost 40 years ago when he was invited to serve on the first Mercy Development Board to assist the school with fundraising and marketing efforts. The Development Board later morphed into a formal Board of Directors which Iacocca served on for six years.
While not formally serving on the Board, Gary stays involved with Mercy in other ways. In addition to daily fundraising support, Yocco’s also participates in Mercy Job Works as a job site providing real life work skills training for Mercy students ages 15 and older.
“We are so blessed to have had the support of Gary and Yocco’s for so many years,” Beth Grys, Principal of Mercy School, said. “Healthy endowment funds allow Mercy School to continue offering the best educational experiences for our students.”
And that’s the primary goal of Iacocca and the Catholic Foundation.
“In the end, it’s all about the kids,” Gary said. “We greatly appreciate our customers’ and employees’ ongoing generosity in supporting the wonderful students and teachers at Mercy School.”
Now that’s something worth celebrating for the next 100 years.
Information provided to TVL by:
Pete Waldron at the Catholic Foundation