Being the new kid in town can be difficult. If you’re shy, you sit quietly at the cafeteria table at lunch, don’t rock the boat and hope someone befriends you. If you’re a little more confident and carefree, you who throw yourself headfirst into the new school: signing up for everything from debate club to soccer, trying everything to figure out where you fit in. US Storage Centers. is like the latter new kid. As they buy real estate in towns and cities across America and setup storage facilities, they come with pen in hand, ready to sign up for every community organization they can.
Recently having acquired property in Compton, US Storage Centers reached out to BAF’s executive director Christy Schilling to see how they could help one of BAF’s community outreach programs. With a myriad of options available, they chose the direct approach: donating $500 toward pet food and supplies to hand out at UPP’s August Pet Wellness clinic.
Whether a business is new to town, or has been there for generations, being an active member of the community is what makes the business—and the community—thrive. Too often big corporations are like that first new kid on the block. They come in, sit at the back of the class, eat alone at lunch, and wait for someone to ask them about themselves. But small town businesses, the mom and pop shops, have always known what really works: you walk up to the cool kids and ask to sit down. You join the chess club and make decorations for the prom. You put yourself out there because you have something to offer the community: yourself.
US Storage Centers has their own non-profit branch, Kure It, which raises money for rare cancer research. Their Round Up for Research program allows their clients to round up their rental invoice to the nearest dollar, the change going to Kure It. US Storage Centers not only collects the money, but they match it, dollar for dollar. Since 2007, they’ve raised and funded over $3.8 million in research.
The investment philosophy of US Storage Centers is simple: buy, hold, and operate their storage facilities for the long term. This means once they come into a new town, they’re here to stay. They strive to be an active, positive member of the community.
Go into any small town in America and you’ll see that the businesses that thrive on Main Street do so because they’re an active part of the community. The hardware store sponsors the Little League team; the pizza parlor buys the biggest ad in the high school yearbook every spring; the dog groomer offers a free cut and wash to anyone who adopts a dog at the shelter; the library donates their old books to the children’s ward at the hospital. Each and every member contributes whether they have a first and last name or an “Inc.” at the end of their title. That’s what makes a strong community.
Businesses like US Storage Centers come into a community with that same mom and pop mentality while carrying with it corporate wealth. That sort of combination can make significant change within a community–especially one they plan to be a part of for many years to come.
But you don’t always need money to make a difference. Businesses and corporations have many ways to contribute to a community, especially non-profits. While monetary donations such as US Storage Center’s gift this month to provide pet food for the underserved is always welcome, businesses can also give in-kind donations. Copy machine rental businesses can donate machines for use in non-profits; printing presses can give discounts to print charity newsletters. And one way every corporation can contribute regardless of speciality is to support volunteerism.
Team building getaways are common in corporate America. Instead of heading to a resort for some fun and games, why not call Food Forward and sign up your team to harvest some fruit together—fruit that is then donated to local community organizations for distribution? Instead of giving gym memberships to lower the cost of employer-based healthcare, team up with the local animal shelter and have workers walk dogs before work or during their lunch hour. Offer flex hours for people who want to volunteer at events that take place during the workday, and allow them to make up hours later in the evening or on the weekend. Better yet, provide paid leave for volunteering. BAF’s Humane Education runs after school, from 2-5pm and is always looking for more presenters. UPP’s Pet Wellness clinic is the fourth Monday of every month 11am-1pm. Why not allow employees an extended lunch hour to come volunteer just one day each month?
Holding events in house can also be beneficial to local nonprofits: food drives for the homeless; blanket drives for the shelters; fundraisers for everything from after school activities to wildlife rehabilitation organizations. Encourage employees to create or join teams for fundraising events like Strut Your Mutt Ask charities to come in and speak to your employees about what they do—a recruitment during lunch or after your weekly status meeting. And most importantly, provide hours, wages, and a business structure that supports employees who spend time volunteering for a cause they’re passionate about.
US Storage Centers’ $500 donation went a long way. Forty-three dollars was spent on cat litter and toys, $167 on dry cat food, and $160 on moist cat food with the remaining amount to be spent next month on specialty items needed such as specialty diet food. When Pedro Pet Pals, a non-profit in South Bay, heard that US Storage Centers would pay for 400 cans of moist cat food, they matched the donation and contributed another 400 cans of Fancy Feast. Eight hundred meals were provided for cats for just a third of US Storage Centers donation thanks to a matching donation. That’s the thing about doing good–it spreads like a virus. From one business to another or one person to another, when we see someone doing good, we want to do good too. Thanks to US Storage Centers, Pedro Pet Pals, and others, over fifty pets and their guardians received much needed assistance in the form of vet care, food, harnesses, leashes, collars, dog toys, beds, strollers, and flea & tick medication in just under two hours on Monday.
Corporate contributions to the community isn’t only a moral suggestion; it makes good business sense. A community that thrives keeps business alive, people with food and shelter, and a sense of security. Whether you’re in a town of one thousand people or in a bustling city of one million, every individual creates the living entity that is the community as a whole. If you’re the new kid in town, take US Storage Centers’ approach. When you come to town, open your doors, extend a helping hand, and ask how you can be a good neighbor. You’ll not only make friends for life and create lasting partnerships with others, but you will add to the richness of the community, one small act of kindness at a time.
If you’re interested in sponsoring, volunteering, donating or finding your own unique way of contributing to Bark Avenue Foundation’s outreach programs, please contact Christy Schilling at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Stephanie Wescott is a freelance writer whose mission is to save animals’ lives through story. Although she hails from New England and resides in Southern California, you’ll mostly likely find her somewhere in between on the open road with her canine companion Tucker, searching for trails to hike and stories to tell. You can follow their tracks and read their tales at www.alltuckeredout.org.