The Gospel According to Milton Hershey

A reading for Monday, November 17, 2014: Luke 16:19-31.

Milton S. Hershey was the founder of the Hershey Chocolate company in 1900. The formula for the chocolate bar was perfected by his company and was pretty much an overnight success. In 1907, Hershey again struck gold when they invented the Hershey Kiss. In the early part of the twentieth century, chocolate of any kind was considered a luxury item, but Milton Hershey was successful at bringing it to the masses and because of it he became a very, very wealthy man.

Hershey had grown up in the Mennonite faith in rural central Pennsylvania. He was constantly aware of the needs of his neighbors even after his success. In 1905 when he built what would become the largest chocolate manufacturing facility in the world he built it as a company town. It was located in the midst of the same dairy farms that Hershey himself had grown up around. He built houses, businesses, churches, and transportation infrastructure to make life better for those that lived and worked in his plant. He even constructed a fancy hotel so that visitors to his plant would have accommodations and others would have good jobs. Did I mention Hershey Park?

He was part of a forward-looking group of entrepreneurs in this country and abroad who believed that providing better living conditions for their workers resulted in better workers…Milton Hershey conceived of building a community that would support and nurture his workers. Developing the community became a lifelong passion for him.[From Wikipedia]

Hershey set up a trust for a school for orphans which would later be named after him. He donated all his resources, including his house and all his interest in the company for the maintenance and sustaining of that school. When Milton Hershey died in 1945, on paper he was nearly the poorest man in the town he had founded. However, if you want to see what a real rich man might look like go to Hershey, PA today and see the statue in his honor in the town square.

"There was a rich man who was dressed in purple and fine linen and who feasted sumptuously every day..." but thanks be to God for all those like Milton Hershey who love and care for all in our community.


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