'Buy a bar, feed a child': Local 'Willy Wonka' making a difference with chocolate

Thursday, October 31, 2019
News 12 This Morning

GRANITEVILLE, S.C. (WRDW/WAGT) - A small chocolate shop is making a difference one bar at a time.

Agape Chocolates in Graniteville is run by its own "Willy Wonka" of sorts. On your typical day, James Stefanakos is making chocolate.

"I like to joke around that my kids are the Oompa Loompas," Stefanakos said.

Usually, it's just him working in the quaint, little factory. But, this all began when he started making chocolates for friends and family.

By trade, he's a chemical engineer. With his interesting flavors like "Scarlett Zing" and "Country Pumpkin," all that knowledge helps.

"Even if you're off a tenth of a degree the bar won't turn out properly," Stefanakos said.

A lunch with his daughter changed his life. He noticed one of her classmates sneaking food in their backpack to take home.

"It really bothered me, and I just started thinking and thinking," he said. "Then, I started going back to people love the chocolate I was making."

So, he quit his job as a chemical engineer, and started Agape Chocolates. He gives 15 percent of profits from the handmade chocolate to go to feed children through local backpack programs.

"I felt like I really wanted to do something to give back to the community," Stefanakos said. "I wanted something that -- no matter how small it was -- could make an impact."

And it's made a big impact. In 4 years, they've fed 39,000 children nationwide.

"I don't want to stop doing this until I know the fact that there are zero children going without food," Stefanakos said.

A little imagination, and some chocolate, can go a long way.

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