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It's Your Turn!

Toward the end of 2016, you more than likely received all sorts of requests for your money. There were requests from the usual places like the utility company, the mortgage lender, the health clinic, and let's not forget the credit card company. There were requests for year-end donations from the Heart Association, Lung Association, Kidney Association, Pet Shelter, Homeless Shelter – and in 2016, from political candidates as well. The quest to get your money never ends.

If they don't want your money, they want your time: volunteer at the kid's school, at the church, homeless shelter, and at how many charity events?

Wow. Between people out to get your money and monopolize your time, it never quits! Of course, you could tell them all where to go – OR you can make a few choices.

The utility company, mortgage lender, health clinic, and credit card company need to be on your priority list. But how about the rest? Do the Heart, Lung, and Kidney Associations really need your money? Yes, they do. Does your local homeless shelter need your money? Yes, they do, as do many others.

If you think anything like I do, most 501c charities are there for a reason. There's just so much need all around us. But you only have so much money. You just have to choose where you think your money will do the most good.

Then there's the matter of your time, and again, think about where your time will do the most good. Is it volunteering for a charity fundraising event? Maybe it's putting in some hours at the food bank or homeless shelter. It could be mentoring young people or doing something for the shut-in senior population.

It's NOT watching endless amounts of television. It's NOT playing video games on your computer or phone. It's also NOT going to every ball game. Life needs to have a balance, and spending endless hours on these and similar "NOT productive" activities is NOT the thing to do. We all need to relax, but we shouldn't use all the free time we have relaxing!

So, what does Jim do to give back? For the last year, my wife Cindy and I have been actively involved with getting a free meal started in our area. For now, we're calling it the Community Meal. A revolutionary idea? No. There's actually a local church a few blocks away from the store that serves a meal every Thursday to 400-575 people. Those attending include single parents/children, senior citizens, the handicapped, homeless people, and in some cases people who are just lonely or without hope.

We are putting together community support to make a free meal happen 7 days a week in a facility dedicated to serving the meal. We have talked to many people including city officials, pastors/church people, the food bank, social services, and lots of potential volunteers who all say, "Bismarck needs this." Cindy and I are working with others to put together sponsors, including our store, to fund this on a daily basis. We will also be serving at the Community Meal once it gets underway.

How does this tie in with our business? In October, we hosted an Anita Goodesign event with 5% of the event sales going to the Community Meal project. Customers seemed to really like the idea that their purchase was helping others. The event generated about $7,500 for the project.

January marked the 40th Anniversary of J & R Vacuum & Sewing, and this time we pledged 5% of our anniversary promotion sales to the Community Meal. Does the 5% add up as a major expense? You bet it does, but how do you put a dollar amount on the good it will do in our city? Plus, there's the customer goodwill generated in the community not to mention the free media exposure. It's a win for the charity, a win for the store, and a warm feeling in the hearts of our consumers as well as others who see good things happening around them. It doesn't get any better than that.

So, shut off the television and your computer, put that cell phone away, and get busy! There's lots of work that needs to be done. The need is just next door and IT'S YOUR TURN!

There's plenty of sewing and vacuum dealers working on community projects. If you are one of those special people, please drop me an e-mail or a link to your website or Facebook page. We want to know how you're making this world a better place! With your permission, I would like to share some of your stories in future articles.

E-mail your individual or store charitable efforts and ideas to jimbarnhardt@msn.com

Jim BarnhardtJim Barnhardt,
J & R Vacuum and Sewing
VDTA•SDTA Board Member

Reprinted from Floor Care & Central Vac Professional & SQE Professional, February 2017