KA Has Heart: The Outstate Offices
by Brenden Nickels, Senior Office Assistant
Throughout the “KA Has Heart Spotlight” series, we have focused on our local Twin Cities charity partners. However, Kraus-Anderson also has offices in Duluth, Bemidji, Rochester, Madison, and Bismarck. So, we thought for this installment we would focus on these offices and how they volunteer in their local communities.
KA Has Heart in Bemidji
In Bemidji, KA coordinates with the United Way for opportunities for its team members to volunteer. In fact, Director of Business Development Tracy Pogue recently ended a 6-year term on its board of directors. “It really flew by as it was a joy to be part of such a positive energy group,” Pogue said. “I think that KA is a very well-known resource for our community and United Way is a very big part of that.” United Way Bemidji Executive Director Denae Alamano agrees. She said, “In Tracy’s time on the board, we’ve doubled our total income, tripled our staff capacity, and tripled the number of people and organizations we are able to serve and partner with! That impact is difficult to calculate as it’s been ENORMOUS!”
Examples of the work that the Bemidji office has done include preparing for the winter by participating in Coats for the Community, a program that collects winter clothing and distributes it out to those that may need it. As school is starting, KA Bemidji participates in Backpack Buddies, which packages and sends out food packages for children so they can have full meals on the weekends and school breaks. And during the holiday, KA helps with the annual Bemidji Toy Drive. “We volunteer for many organizations that help with youth sports, animal rescue and fostering, construction, history, arts, and education,” said Kraus-Anderson Bemidji Office Manager Chelsea Oldham. “We have helped build homes and playgrounds, sorted pudding cups and oatmeal packets, raked yards, planted trees, delivered meals, made masks, provided computer tutorials, walked dogs, filed paperwork, and mixed paint pots for art class. I think our volunteer efforts have covered the gamut of activities.”
KA Has Heart in Duluth
KA Duluth also partners with the United Way to find ways to help out in the community. They have planted trees on the Western Waterfront Trail, repaired homes for the Western Lake Superior Habitat for Humanity and wrapped presents for the Duluth branch of the Salvation Army. However, KA Duluth’s specialty when it comes to volunteering is the annual Kraus-Anderson Bike Duluth Festival. The event is held at the Grand Avenue Chalet at Spirit Mountain and attracts more than 1,000 bike riders each summer since 2014. Throughout that time, the event has raised over $240,000, which has been donated back to Duluth-area charities such as the Duluth YMCA, the Duluth Legacy Endowment Fund, Gary New Duluth Development Alliance, COGGS, and the Harbortown Rotary Club. While they were unable to have an event last summer because of the coronavirus, they do hope to have it again in 2021. More recently the Duluth and Bemidji offices have focused their efforts on the Holiday Gift Drives. “2020 has been a tough year for volunteer opportunities, but we will not give up or give in to the pandemic,” said KA Duluth Office Manager Becca Bohlman.
KA Has Heart in Madison
The Madison office is an extremely dedicated office when it comes to volunteer work. In the past, Wisconsin KA’ers have volunteered at the Henry Villas Zoo decorating the place for its annual holiday Zoo Lights display. At One City Learning, a charter preschool/elementary school, KA’ers reorganized the basement and divided it into storage for donated school supplies. Most recently, the Madison KA’ers last September volunteered at Second Harvest Food Bank to assemble care boxes. Plus, if you are a dog lover, KA Madison partners with local pet rescue Ma, Paws, and Me to hold “puppy parties”, where you can socialize with rescue dogs for a monetary donation to the rescue.
KA Has Heart in Rochester
In Rochester, the employees there have volunteered at Spark, Rochester’s Children Museum by setting up displays at the museum on a few occasions. Other voluntary opportunities that KA Rochester has participated in include sheetrocking in the basement of Bear Creek Services and many opportunities with the Rochester Area Builders’ “40 Below” group for contractors age 40 and younger.
KA Has Heart in North Dakota
Our North Dakota office has been serving the Bismarck community as well. Project Coordinator Linda House volunteers at Sanford Health Bismarck by making hats for the newborn 2020 The Banquet babies. She said that she’s been doing it for a couple of years, adding “They say that they need about 1,200 hats a year and there are several of us that do it for them.” Meanwhile, Superintendent John Brashears volunteers at the soup kitchen lunch held at the Spirit of Life Catholic Church every Thursday afternoon from September to May. KA North Dakota employees have also served meals during the month of June at The Banquet, a meal outreach at Trinity Lutheran Church, as well as decorating a Christmas tree for Pride Inc (an organization that assists those with disabilities) annual Celebration of Trees each December.
With all these actions, it is clear that the giving spirit that Kraus-Anderson does not just apply to our Minneapolis office, but throughout the whole organization. It certifies KA’s commitment to serving the communities that it operates in not just as a business, but as an ordinary member of the community in general.