Martin, Anne, and Abe King (Scott’s grandfather) outside King Jewelers, Salt Lake City, 1912

It’s going to be a big year for philanthropist Maxine King. In 2012, she’ll celebrate the 100th anniversary of King Jewelers, the family business she had a strong hand in carrying through to its fourth generation. What’s more, she’ll welcome (that’s an understatement) the birth of her first grandchild. While King says there are few things she enjoys more than working alongside her family each day—the two stores in Aventura and Nashville are stocked with luxury brands including Cartier, Hublot, and Jaeger LeCoultre—there is another passion that occupies a considerable amount of space in her life: charitable causes. In addition to giving generously, the King family is constantly hosting fundraisers at its 7,800-square-foot store, which not coincidentally has a stocked bar and a full kitchen. We sat down with King to discuss her role as a prominent businesswoman and humanitarian in South Florida and how philanthropy here continues to evolve.

  David, Jono, Maxine, and Scott King (with store mascot Andre the boxer)

How did you get involved in philanthropy?
MAXINE KING: Growing up in Wayne, New Jersey, my parents wouldn’t have been considered wealthy by today’s standards. But they were always comfortable, and they told me it wasn’t necessary to be wealthy to give to the poor. I remember being about 10 years old and sitting with my father at the kitchen table. He was putting money inside a brown envelope stamped with a picture of a Native American and I asked, “Why?” He told me, “If someone asks for help, you should always give.” Both my parents always believed in charity at every level, and they raised us to think the same.

So it must have been pretty important for you to instill that in your own kids. How did you do it?
MK: When the boys were young, we’d take them to Camillus House to hand out sandwiches or we’d wake up at 6 AM and head to Miami Beach to feed the homeless. And of course, we’ve always had tzedakh boxes around the house and the boys would regularly contribute some of their allowances. It must have worked! Both my sons stayed involved in different causes throughout high school and college. And when David, who’s 34, went to Nashville three years ago to open our new store, he learned the Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt didn’t have a foundation. So he spent tireless hours in early morning meetings and stayed up late at night to get one started. And Jono, 32, is constantly holding charity auctions for victims of natural disasters.

It seems King Jewelers isn’t the only family effort to continue through generations. Tell me about Pap Corps.
MK: My husband Scott’s grandmother helped start Pap Corps on Miami Beach to detect and find a cure for ovarian cancer. At the time, it was a small group of women. Now there are chapters throughout Miami- Dade and Palm Beach County, and we’re aligned with Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center.
 

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