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A Can-Do Approach For Water Needs

December 26, 2008

A can-do approach for water needs. Local charity aims to help Third World children
By Will Mueller of The Freeman

Local charity aims to help Third World children

Sussex, WI– While attending a beverage packaging summit a year ago, Greg Stromberg listened as a leading export specialist urged more industry involvement in alleviating Third World hunger.
The Sussex resident, who has more than 40 years of experience in sales and marketing within the can manufacturing and ink industries, took the speech to heart. He’s since started his own nonprofit organization to aid and inform others of what he feels is one of the most devastating problems in the world: death due to water-borne diseases.

Stromberg's CannedWater4Kids, or CW4K, is a charity focused on bringing clean, safe water to children in undeveloped countries through contributions to organizations such as the United Nations, UNICEF and World Vision. CW4K used $360 of the $700 it brought in during its first four weeks in operation to sponsor the digging of a community well through the United Nations UNHCR Christmas Star Appeal program.

Stromberg describes the organization as a “grass roots, startup, lean, virtual e-charity,” by which he means that the organization is starting locally, supported by word-of-mouth, has few overhead costs and uses the Internet as its main vehicle. “I founded the nonprofit here in Wisconsin and the model is somewhat based on Newman’s Own Brands,” said Stromberg, referring to the late Paul Newman’s
food line, whose profits are given to charity. “The only difference from Newman’s Own is that all of my board members, which includes myself, will be paid (only) one dollar per year.”

The World Health Organization states that water-borne diseases claim the life of a child every eight seconds. CW4K has two methods of raising money for clean water initiatives. One is through cash donations on the organization’s Web site, http://www.cannedwater4kids.com. The other is by selling canned water, the proceeds of which go to clean water initiatives.

While the canned water sales are the basis of CW4K’s name, Peter Gorman, a professional brand strategist who designed the packaging, said they’ve also created a bit of confusion about the organization’s mission. “Some people think we are shipping cans to other countries,” said Gorman, who became involved in the project through his friendship with Stromberg. “The can is (simply) the vehicle to raise money as well as donations.” Gorman hopes the cans will create a buzz that will in turn create awareness of the dire water situation in many parts of the world. “We’ve been friends for a long time and (Stromberg) asked me if I would help out,” said Gorman. “It seemed like a worthy cause. Before my involvement I really didn’t know anything about the cause.”

While CW4K has started locally and currently only offers its special brand of water via the Web site, a major supermarket chain has shown interest in helping the cause through a promotional campaign
or even selling CW4K in its stores, Stromberg said.