When it comes to philanthropy, Boca Raton certainly doesn’t fall short on spectacle—or generosity. “The Season” in Boca is a glittering testament to the love that the city’s most affluent have for their community. But generosity isn’t always clad in a sharp tailored suit or flowing evening gown. For Alex Price, a pair of slacks and a red Office Depot T-shirt is the dress code for giving back.
Price joined Office Depot as its national director of community investment five years ago, and since then has taken the Boca-based retail giant’s philanthropic efforts to new levels with the Depot Difference initiative, a national community service operation that has its flagship right here in Boca. “We do the most here, because it’s home,” says Price.
The emphasis on service is a running theme in Price’s CV, beginning during his time living in New York. Price had just moved from his Pensacola home to attend graduate school at Columbia when his father died suddenly from a heart attack. This tragedy left Price devastated but not idle. Soon after, he and some friends hosted a tribute gala to commemorate his father and support the American Heart Association. “That night, which was just a one-time thing, we ended up creating an organization,” says Price, and thus nycTIES was founded, a nonprofit dedicated to engaging young professionals in local causes and promoting volunteerism.
Price operated nycTIES for the next six years as a side project but says it grew into an obsession. He learned all about giving back during this initial foray into the philanthropic world, growing ever more passionate in the process. And after moving to Boca, he found himself at home in the midst of a community known for its philanthropy.
“[Boca] is an area of high resource, but also at the same time, high generosity,” says Price, “and when those things come together, problems are solved and lives are impacted.”
The results of the Depot Difference initiative can be seen in classrooms across the country with the Start Proud back-to-school program. Right here in Palm Beach County, teachers from Barton Elementary School were surprised in early August with a free classroom shopping spree, and students were treated with the largest backpack distribution in the history of Start Proud. Price doesn’t confine philanthropy to working hours, either. His name can be found as a sponsor in the programs of some of Boca’s most illustrious nonprofit events, including the Ballroom Battle. His biggest project now is growing Elevate Together, the latest drive from the Depot Difference initiative that aims to level the barriers standing in the way of minority entrepreneurship.
While some philanthropists may measure the success of their efforts in dollars and cents, for Price, the metric is far less tangible. “For me, it’s going out to a school and hugging a child who’s maybe going through a very difficult time and letting them know that we’re there for them, and they matter,” says Price.
Being actively involved in a dizzying amount of philanthropic endeavors may sound draining. Price attributes his inexhaustible energy to an “absurd amount of iced coffee” and being what his wife would call “a big kid.” But more than that, Price has an inherent desire to bring joy anywhere and everywhere he can.
“These last few years have been hard, and people have gone through a lot of stuff, and I’m no different … but I feel like fun and laughter is an essential ingredient, and I try to sprinkle it through everything I do.”