The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society (LLS) is the world’s largest voluntary health agency dedicated to finding cures for blood cancers. The UFCW has been a longstanding partner with LLS since 1982. Together, UFCW members have raised over $86 million through participating in Light the Night walks and other fundraising efforts.
One such member is Kenny Newsom, a UFCW Local 1059 member who works at General Mills in Wellston, Ohio as a building maintenance electrician. UFCW Local 1059 members at General Mills work hard to produce Totinos pizza rolls, but in his spare time Newsom enjoys using his carpentry skills to build furniture that he donates for the yearly UFCW Local 1059 auction to raise money for Light the Night.
“It’s been four years now,” says Newsom. “One year I was making an Ohio State table, it’s got the block o and buckeye leaf and all that in it. My union rep stopped by one day when I was in my workshop working on it and I said, ‘Hey, would Randy like to have this to auction off for Light the Night?’ and that’s how it got started.”
Newsom’s donations have raised over for Light the Night since he first got involved. Over the years, he’s made end tables, an indoor bar, a poker table, and an outside furniture set.
“I took workshop in high school, but then I worked for a cabinet factory for 29 years before I worked for General Mills. The cabinet factory shut down, but I learned quite a bit there. But mostly I learned from my father. He did that as a hobby like I do, and I just picked it up as I got older. I enjoy building it all. It’s a hobby for me so I just enjoy doing it.”
Newsom works nights at the General Mills plant, but doesn’t let that stop him from getting involved. In addition to being active with Light the Night, he also has been a steward for the past five years.
“After my first year or so was up I said, it’s about time to get involved. There was a position that opened up and I went to see my union rep and said ‘I want to be a steward’ and he said ‘ok’ and I’ve been there ever since. Negotiations are probably my favorite part. That and helping people when you can.”
“I work from 10:30 at night until 6:30 in the morning. I don’t think it’s a barrier to being involved, it’s just a matter of being disciplined. Coming home and getting in bed and getting your sleep. But I’m also a union steward there also and I go talk to new hires all the time about what I deal with as a union steward and try to give them a little education in what the union’s all about for them.
I just wish there were more education for younger people to know what a union can do for them. I try to tell them I worked non-union for 29 years, it’s ‘either our way or see ya,’ you know what I mean? It’s like you get a 5 cent raise this year and you either stay working or you go find something else. At least with the union, you’ve got a voice.”
If you would like to get more involved like Kenny Newsom, Light the Night has a website just for the UFCW. Visit to find information on a Light the Night Walk near you, register your Local Union’s Light the Night team, or set up your team’s fundraising page:
If you are interested in participating in the walks, talk to your local to see if there is already a Light the Night team. If not, ask about forming one and make sure your local’s team is registered on the UFCW Light the Night page. After your team is registered, you can recruit walkers and send them to your team page to register.
The UFCW Light the Night website will track our fundraising progress as well as keep a list of the top-performing UFCW locals and fundraisers. So be sure to check it often.
Funds raised by your team will go towards discovering breakthrough therapies and cures for people suffering from blood cancers like Leukemia, Lymphoma, Hodgkin’s disease, and Myeloma.
“LLS is very proud of our partnership with the UFCW, whose members have supported LLS relentlessly by raising essential funds needed to fight blood cancer,” said Louis J. DeGennaro, Ph.D., LLS’s president and CEO. “The UFCW is helping LLS make it possible to accomplish more than any other cancer nonprofit to advance cutting-edge research and cures for patients.”
For more information about the LLS, please visit www.LLS.org.