Mike LeBlanc was born and raised a “townie” in East Providence, where he lived for his first 25 years.
He graduated from Rhode Island College in 1991 with a degree in marketing, and now lives in Glocester with his wife and two teenage daughters. He’s worked for Frito-Lay for 18 years, spending the last four of them here in Cranston.
“Shortly after I bought a ‘Save our Sports’ bracelet from Garden Hills Deli, I have tried to tie in a relationship to the Cranston youth. I see them and their families shopping in the stores I service around the city every day,” LeBlanc said.
Even though Frito-Lay does not deliver to any Cranston school, LeBlanc still feels connected to the community.
“I pass Cranston East on my way to servicing my accounts. Any Saturday I see a car wash or some fundraising function, I try to stop and make a donation,” he said. “I really never gave it much thought for how long I have been doing it until Andrea [DiCicco, class advisor] mentioned it. I was just moved one day to stop and have been ever since. I joke around with the students about washing the Frito-Lay truck. You should see their reaction, priceless. They always offer, but I never accept. I leave a small monetary donation and a bag or two of Doritos or Cheetos.”
Not a lot of people know that Frito-Lay has a warehouse in Cranston. The company has over 35 route sales representatives servicing all of Rhode Island and parts of southeastern Massachusetts, donates to local charities and is active within the Rhode Island community with many outreach projects.
DiCicco has nothing but praise and admiration for LeBlanc.
“He’s been coming at least four to five years. For years I’ve been calling him the ‘Frito-Lays’ man … a secret supporter who has never asked for recognition,” she said. “Most of the time I am taken aback by his kindness and generosity. He gives the kids a treat, sometimes buys entire trays of cupcakes from a student’s bake sale, and leaves a donation. All of this is done within a brief minute or two. Sometimes we are not really sure he even stopped by, but then we see his gift … some chips for us to enjoy. He’s our champion and hero.”
LeBlanc understands the importance and difficulty of fundraising.
“I have coached youth sports in the past, a total of 10 years in Burrillville and Glocester – baseball, softball, basketball and my favorite to coach, soccer. My daughter is entering her junior year this fall at Ponagansett High School. I know firsthand how fundraising helps the youth of a town. Students want to save or help defray the cost of their activities and are not afraid of doing an organized event to do so,” he said.
As a father and coach, LeBlanc tries to instill the lessons of being good people to the students and adults he interacts with, whether at home, on a sports field, on the streets or in a store.
“Every day, we have a chance to impact others. We can choose to do it in a negative fashion with negative remarks or actions, or we can choose a positive lasting action using encouraging words … or actions such as a smile, handshake or helping others when we can,” he said. “I hope more people help our youth when the next time arises, not only in a monetary fashion, but with their time. Don’t be afraid to try something new. Coaching, mentoring, teaching, or volunteering at a local charity – the feeling is amazing, and you can and do make a difference.”