Let’s face it: 2020 has been the year of altered plans. Vacations and large events canceled, many people working from home and education as we know it may forever be altered. With the world shut down for most of this year, it can be easy to forget that some industries don’t stop. Luckily, local businesses like TwinStar Credit Union have put their money where their mouth is, and altered their way of giving back to help those that are in the thick of the danger every single day. Because of their quick thinking and creative approaches, they were able to directly help the community both safely and effectively in a time where it seems almost impossible.

A friendly Dalmatian awaited all donors for the blood drive. Photo courtesy: Lacey Fire District Three

Even before the pandemic, TwinStar Credit Union has a track record of taking time to give back to the community in varied ways. “Historically, TwinStar holds an all-employee meeting on the second Monday in October as an opportunity to bring the entire workforce together,” says TwinStar’s Director of Community Engagement Corinn Wohl. “Last October, after our employee meeting, the leadership decided we would begin to alternate our employee meeting with a Day of Giving. The Day of Giving would involve all employees spending a day of service with a non-profit organization within their market area. Additionally, TwinStar would provide financial assistance to selected organizations as well. As I believe most would agree, the volunteer benefits as much as the recipient organization or even those that organization serves. This provides a win-win-win opportunity.”

When it became painfully clear the COVID-19 pandemic wasn’t going to let anything go to plan, TwinStar’s Community Engagement team had to come up with some creative improvisations. And since it was people like the first responders who had no choice but to keep doing what they do global pandemic or not, that’s who they ultimately dedicated their time and resources to. “While there were many options, the team decided to recognize firefighters, their administrative staff members, and families,” says Wohl. “These individuals make personal sacrifices in service to others on a daily basis, and it is a privilege to provide this small gesture of appreciation.”

TwinStar worked directly with the Fire District to make sure they have the resources they need for emergencies, including the Hendy Bears. Photo courtesy: TwinStar Credit Union

This change of plan coincided with a similar dilemma the Lacey Fire District Three was having. Like TwinStar’s community engagement issues, the fire district’s community outreach and education programs were stifled or canceled outright. “COVID-19 has greatly impacted our ability to be out in the community for public education,” explains Community Outreach Coordinator Chris DeBell. “Most of the community events in which we participate have not (or will not) occur this year.”

However, despite their changes in plans, they were able to organize a two-day blood drive on October 13 and 14. “We reached out to Bloodworks Northwest to host a blood drive in support of a retired member of Lacey Fire District Three, who is currently in need of frequent blood transfusions,” says DeBell.

At around that same time, TwinStar’s Community Engagement Team was actively looking for a place to help out in any way they could. The match was perfect.

By all accounts, the blood drive was a success, with over 60 donors showing up to give. Photo courtesy: TwinStar Credit Union

“We were approached by TwinStar as a recipient for their Day of Giving program to support First Responders in the community,” recalls DeBell. “They graciously supported our blood drive efforts by providing the Flaming Pig food truck for blood donors and on-shift personnel. They also donated to our Hendy Bear Program.  Our crews and rigs carry Hendy Bear stuffed animals to give to children that are hurt or scared during an emergency. TwinStar’s contribution to the Hendy Bear program helps to ensure we keep our rigs supplied!”

The results were stunning. Over a two day drive, Bloodworks Northwest collected blood from 61 donors and positively impacted the lives of more than 177 patients in the community.

The folks at TwinStar were happy to help. “I believe our days have been a huge success,” says Wohl. “We had the opportunity to engage, learn about the local station history, and say ‘thank you’ all while practicing CDC guidelines!”

The Lacey Fire District Three would like to remind everyone even though fire prevention education did not happen this year in schools, there is a webpage full of grade-specific videos available here. They have also launched the new Community Connect platform, where households and businesses can create a profile to help first responders be better prepared and provide a quicker response when arriving on the scene of an emergency.

For more information about TwinStar Credit Union, click here.

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