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When is a Chocolate Bar more then a Chocolate Bar?

Do you know what this is?  I think its safe to say that we’ve all had one at some point or other.  A Hershey’s Milk Chocolate bar.

I for one am a huge chocoholic and have been wanting to see Hershey, Pennsylvania since I was in elementary school.   This year I got to go and I learned something even more amazing then their delicious milk chocolate.

When is the last time you took a look at the back of your Hershey’s bar or any Hershey’s product for that matter?  I’m not talking about the nutritional facts either.  On the back of every bar there is a little white box with some very important information, information I never noticed until I took the Trolley Tour at Chocolate Town, USA.

 

That little box informs you that Every Hershey’s product helps the Milton Hershey School.  Ever heard of it?  I hadn’t!

This town where the streets are paved in chocolate is completely centered around this school which was started back in 1909 by Milton Hershey and his wife, Kitty.  You see, Kitty, it turns out, could not bare children.  So the couple decided to use their wealth and open a school for orphaned boys.

Why boys?  Because during that time period, boys were the bread winners of the family.  They thought that if they took these boys and gave them a proper education that they could grow up and take care of their families.  Thus they opened the Hershey Industrial School – renamed Milton Hershey School in 1951.

Mosaic found at MHS depicting Milton Hershey’s life and goals.

Wanting these boys to have as much of a family experience as they could give them, they built houses – homes still used today – that could house up to 14 boys and hired married couples to act as the boy’s school parents.  They had no other job but taking care of and loving these young men.

Not only did these boys receive a great education and loving family life, they also worked on a dairy farm to learn good work morals and attended church every Sunday for these were four things Milton and Kitty had strong beliefs in.  These beliefs are still respected to this day.

The school is now co-ed and for underprivileged children, not just orphans.  They still have school parents and live at the school year round – unless they have a family to go home to during the holidays.  They attend a nondenominational church ran by the students every Sunday.  This is open to the public and so if you’re in town on a Sunday, the school invites and even encourages you to please stop by and attend.  After which, if they wish to attend their own personal religion’s church, transportation is provided.  They do not, however, still work on dairy farms but are taught good work ethics nonetheless.

The church itself has a Broadway size stage and can sit over two thousand people.  When not used for ceremonies, it doubles at the town’s theatre.  Broadway plays and theatre troupes from all over the world have played there.  Whenever an outside troupe comes in, the students are given a FREE performance.  They’ve had Beauty and the Beast, Wicked, and even Jordan Parks came and gave them a private show.

And how much is this tuition you might ask?  Absolutely 100% FREE.  Anyone accepted to the Milton Hershey School attends without any charge to themselves.  And why?

Because Milton and Kitty Hershey never had children of their own, never formally adopted any, and so, in 1918, to assure that the school goes on even when they’re gone, they signed over their entire fortune and shares in the Hershey empire to the Milton Hershey School Trust and so long as the students are attending, right up to graduation, they are considered the beneficiaries.

98% of the students who graduate, go on to attend college.  Their senior year, they are moved out of the family homes and into apartment or dorm type homes so that they can learn to cook, clean and depend on themselves instead of their ‘parents’.  Upon graduation, they are given $100 because Milton Hershey always believed that with $100 in your pocket, you can achieve anything.  The school also helps those who wish to attend college, pay for it through its own scholarship program.

So next time you look at that Hershey candy bar and think, “89 cents?  I remember when it was a nickel/quarter/50 cents.” just flip it over and look at the back and remember that candy bar is making a difference in people’s lives.

“The School was Kitty’s idea.  If we had helped a hundred children  it would have been all worthwhile.” ~ Milton Hershey

Today over 2 thousand students from grades K through 12 attend Milton Hershey School.  Thousands and thousands of kids since the doors opened in 1909 were given opportunities they could never have dreamed of if not for Milton and Kitty.  To me, that’s absolutely beautiful and makes each time I buy a Hershey product that much sweeter.

So to answer the question in the post title, “When is a chocolate bar more then a chocolate bar?”  When its also a future.’

Linsey Lanier - October 11, 2012 - 5:43 am

I love Hershey’s chocolate. My favorite brand. Especially dark chocolate. Guess I’m a dark chocoholic. But I never knew my addiction was helping such a good cause. Your post made me feel good about it, Bryonna. :-))

What a special place. I love hearing about people who really make a difference. Milton and Kitty Hershey must have been a wonderful couple. Their school sounds like the old Boy’s Town movies with Mickey Rooney. I wonder if one inspired the other.

Sia Huff - October 11, 2012 - 7:58 am

Great post, Bryonna,
When we lived in Maryland, we used to go to Hershey every year. I know of Milton & Kitty’s legacy, but you taught me a few new things as well.
For my family, their generous support of orphans is more personal. The preacher who married my husband and I attend Milton Hershey’s school. He & Kitty were great philanthropists and helped many people.
I love the taste of Hershey’s chocolate, but I normally choose Hershey because I know of the good my purchase will do.
Glad you had a great trip.

Pam Asberry - October 11, 2012 - 9:49 am

I loved your post, Bryonna. I visited Hershey many years ago, when my children were small, and enjoyed the tour thoroughly. Thanks for letting me see it again through your eyes. I think I have a Hershey with almond bar around here somewhere…

Sandra Elzie - October 11, 2012 - 10:45 am

Fantastic, taste-good, feel-good article! What a wonderful thing for this couple to do. Yes, I’d heard of them…and their story before, but I’ve never been up there. Now I have another place to visit on my bucket list of places to see.

Thanks so much for sharing…and BTW, we missed you at M&M. Love ya. Sandy

Michele - October 11, 2012 - 11:07 am

My two older children were born in Hershey when we lived outside of Harrisburg many years ago. We went to Hershey a d Chocolate World dozens of times. My daughter now lives down there and her children love it just as much as she did!

Susan Carlisle - October 11, 2012 - 11:39 am

Bryonna,

What a nice post. I’ve been to Hershey and I too was impressed with what Milton and his wife did and are still doing. It is a nice reminder that one person can make a difference in a number of people’s lives. Thanks for reminding us.

Allison Merritt - October 11, 2012 - 2:31 pm

I met an older gentleman who attended the Milton Hershey School during the Depression, I think. He was serving samples at a grocery store and I don’t remember how we got on the subject, but I was amazed to learn there was such a place. He had fond memories of it.

Maxine - October 11, 2012 - 3:08 pm

Bryonna, you are right, I had never paid attention to the white box. Isn’t that a wonderful thing. I’m glad to learn that I have supported the school more than once! I would love to visit Hershey one day and plan to make it in the near future. Thanks.

Bryonna Nobles - October 11, 2012 - 10:33 pm

I’m glad you all enjoyed the post and you could either learn something or were reminded of it.

I never knew how much Milton Hershey did for people. When Kitty died, people often asked him if he’d ever remarry and he always said, “I’m nice to babies and old ladies but nothing in between.” Kitty was the love of his life and he never remarried even though he died thirty years later.

He did so much for that town and people alike that one blog post couldn’t possibly tell you everything. He made it so not a single person lost a job in Hershey during the Great Depression. But I thought that school and all the amazing things it did was a good start and might get people to look up a bit more about the man behind the chocolate and the woman behind the man. ;)

Mary Preston - October 12, 2012 - 4:45 am

I’ve never had a Hershey’s chocolate. I doubt they are sold here in Australia. I love the idea of giving back.

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