Tis the season to give back: How local organizations are supporting the community

The colder temperatures have arrived, but the warmhearted, giving spirit is abundant in the greater Mt. Pleasant community. Here’s how a few local organizations and corporations are giving back this holiday season. 

Isabella Bank 

From now until Dec. 8, Isabella Bank is hosting a contest with the hopes to make the holiday season shine a bit more brightly for a few lucky winners. The contest, Making Spirits Bright, will award seven nominated families (residing in Clare, Gratiot, Isabella, Mecosta, Midland, Montcalm or Saginaw County) with $500 gift cards.

“It’s an opportunity to nominate different individuals that you want to show appreciation to, and to start the holiday season off with things you’re thankful for and grateful for, and to be able to spread some good cheer,” Amber Zaske, community relations specialist at Isabella Bank shares. 

Zaske says giving back is an important aspect of the community bank’s mission, year-round. Each October, the Bank hosts an employee-driven community service day, Compassion in Action. 

“This last year, we did events in all seven different counties where we have branches located, and we had the employees serve the communities that they live and work in,” Zaske says. “It was a great opportunity for employees to get out and learn different fun facts about all the different organizations we support, and it gave them an opportunity to learn more about different ways they and their families can volunteer in the community.”

Past volunteer sites have included nonprofits William and Janet Strickler Nonprofit Center, East Side Soup Kitchen, Rock the Block, and partnerships with United Way and Habitat for Humanity. 

(Photo courtesy of Isabella Bank)

Mt. Pleasant Area Chamber of Commerce

President and CEO of the Mt. Pleasant Area Chamber of Commerce, Liz Conway, works every day with local businesses in the community. Each year, the Chamber hosts the Business After Hours event to provide marketing and networking opportunities to its members. The holiday edition of the event will be on Tuesday, Dec. 6 at the Chippewa Champions Center at Central Michigan University. 

This event has a dual purpose: to build connections for Chamber members, but to also give back. The holiday celebration includes a hors d’oeuvres, cash bar, 50/50 raffle, and encourages attendees to bring a non-perishable item to be donated to the Isabella Community Soup Kitchen. 

Conway says the food and supply drive is just one way the Chamber can highlight its members, while also helping build community and provide opportunities for members to give back. In fact, the idea for the event came from one of the members. Conway knows that to have a thriving community, it takes many people working together and addressing the needs of people in the area. 

“I would like to also point out the generosity of the businesses in our community,” she says. “There are so many companies that focus their efforts throughout the year on corporate social responsibility. It’s a beneficial and helpful business practice as it builds brand awareness, helps with the bottom line, and supports employee engagement and retention. I think we have all seen the Facebook posts, emails, and flyers or been to an event that highlights how local businesses support the many amazing nonprofits in our community.”

Mt. Pleasant Police Department and Krapohl Ford & Lincoln

The red Toys for Tots logo is a recognizable one, and it should be since the national toy drive has been collecting stuffed animals, legos, and other fun items for kids since 1947. The local chapter was established in 1988 and distributes over 8,000 toys each season throughout Isabella and Clare counties. 

Locally, the Cram a Cruiser event invites residents to bring new, unwrapped, unopened toys to Krapohl Ford & Lincoln’s car dealership. The drop-off drive, in partnership with the Mt. Pleasant Police Department, takes place on Thursday, Dec. 1 from 3 to 5:30 p.m. The Police Department will also be accepting donations in front of the Public Safety Building on Thursday, Dec. 8 and 15 from 4 to 6:30 p.m. There’s also a Toys for Tots box in the lobby. 

Public information officer for Mt. Pleasant Police Department, Autume Balcom, says the department has participated in the annual event for at least six years. 

“The goal of the event is to be out in the community and promote giving back to those who may be on hard times, and need help with Christmas,” Balcom says. “My favorite part of the event is watching the full process. I get to see people in our community give back and donate to others. I am then fortunate enough to see the joy it brings to the family that is receiving it. For me, that is the best part.”

Balcom says toy drives and giving back no matter the season is what makes her so proud to be a part of the Mt. Pleasant community. “We are able to help our local community, essentially our neighbors, when they need it most,” she says. “I have always been so proud to be a part of a community that gives so much. We have so many wonderful people that donate to this cause.”

The Mt. Pleasant Police Department Cram a Cruise event takes place on Thursday, Dec. 1 from 3 to 5:30 p.m at Krapohl Ford & Lincoln’s car dealership on Pickard Street in Mt. Pleasant, Michigan. (Photo courtesy of Mt. Pleasant Police Department)

Mid Michigan College

Another Toys for Tots partnership event takes place with Mid Michigan College. On Wednesday, Dec. 7, the College’s Laker Basketball teams are partnering up with the Central Michigan Area Toys for Tots Chapter to host a Teddy Bear Toss at halftime. The free game versus Schoolcraft College’s Ocelots takes place at Morey Courts in Mt. Pleasant. The women’s game begins at 5:30 p.m., followed by the men’s game at 7:30 p.m. Attendees are encouraged to bring a new stuffed animal or toy to toss onto the court during halftime. There will also be toys available for purchase on-site, and monetary donations are also accepted. 

Shoe Sensation

Shoe Sensation (2151 S. Mission St.) is hosting Socks for Troops, a sock drive for members of the Military and local Veterans. Last year, the store collected over 1,000 pairs of socks. The goal this year is to gather 2,000 pairs. Now through Dec. 31, customers can donate socks in-store, and will receive 20% off new socks purchased. Donations can also be brought and dropped off in-store, as long as they are new in their original packaging. The donations will be distributed via Veterans 4 USA. 

These are just some of the local organizations that are partnering up together—hoping to spread some holiday cheer and brighten spirits this season. Chances are, your local bank, shelter, food pantry, realtor, etc., has a way you can get involved and give back. Whether it’s donating your time, dollars, toys, or socks—one act of kindness can go a long way.
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Read more articles by Sarah Spohn.

Sarah Spohn is a Lansing native, but every day finds a new interesting person, place, or thing in towns all over Michigan, leaving her truly smitten with the mitten. She received her degrees in journalism and professional communications and provides coverage for various publications locally, regionally, and nationally — writing stories on small businesses, arts and culture, dining, community, and anything Michigan-made. You can find her in a record shop, a local concert, or eating one too many desserts at a bakery. If by chance, she’s not at any of those places, you can contact her at sarahspohn.news@gmail.com.