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Posted On: Nov. 23, 1997 12:00 AM CST

The black-and-white photographs accompanying each month of H.E. Butt Grocery Co.'s benefits calendar show familiar, old-fashioned scenes: a family picnic by a lake, kids riding in a little wagon, an older couple on a cruise.

Colorful headlines, concise text and small splashes of bright colors on the photos -- such as a lime green shirt, a cranberry jacket and a sunny yellow halter top -- liven up the simple scenes, though. These touches, along with pictures of current employees and informative sidebars, earned the calendar an Award of Excellence in the special project category of the 1997 Business Insurance Employee Benefits Communication Awards competition.

H.E. Butt, a San Antonio-based retail grocery chain with 350 locations, wanted to communicate benefits information in an "eye-catching" way, commented Tammy Schoenert, manager of benefits administration. The company wanted a communication vehicle that employees would keep and refer to frequently, Ms. Schoenert added.

Each of the 12 monthly pages describes one of H.E. Butt's employee benefits. For example, a picture above the month of January shows three young adults walking with books in their arms. A red headline at the top of the picture reads: "Learn more. Be smart. Get ahead."

The sidebar on the page below, next to the actual calendar, describes the company's scholarship and tuition reimbursement program. A black-and-white photo of a current employee doing school work covers six daily squares in the calendar, and several days carry little benefit-related reminders, such as making a dental appointment or applying for the tuition reimbursement.

Other months describe time-off benefits, the company's credit union, a retirement plan, group medical coverage and dental benefits.

H.E. Butt's approximately 40,000 employees are diverse in age and ethnicity. They range from 16 to 60 and include many Hispanics.

The company mailed the 9-by-12-inch calendar to the workers' homes. It cost approximately $135,000 to produce.

PartnerSource Inc., an Arlington, Texas-based consulting firm, worked with H.E. Butt on the project.