One Team Day of Giving by H&R Block associates helps nearly 300 communities nationwide

December 18, 2018 : Monica Glukstad

H&R Block hosted One Team Day of Giving for H&R Block associates all over the country and Puerto Rico to give back to their communities on December 17. The helping hands and hearts of thousands of local H&R Block volunteers served nearly 300 cities, from New York City to Los Angeles and everywhere in between.

Midwest: Seeing a need and taking the lead

In Kansas City, Missouri where H&R Block is headquartered, associates from 16 area offices took a group of over two dozen children from Banneker Elementary School, which serves a large concentration of low-income students, shopping for school supplies and holiday gifts. Each child shopped for several needed and wanted items. They also went out for lunch at Chick-fil-A.

“At Banneker Elementary and Kansas City Public Schools, we are focused on meeting the needs of every student, every day. We are extremely grateful to the entire team at H&R Block for having given us this amazing opportunity to provide these students with a great holiday experience that they might not have enjoyed otherwise,” said Harrison Neal, principal of Banneker Elementary School. “This is an excellent example of the kind of community and business partnerships we are developing as a school and school system in order to offer wrap-around support services for our students and their families.”

At the same time, another group of associates from nearby H&R Block offices in Kansas City, Missouri were helping Cameron Veterans Home Assistance League, NourishKC and Newhouse Shelter by signing and delivering holiday cards to veterans, preparing and serving meals to the homeless and wrapping Christmas presents for children.

In Janesville, Wisconsin, located approximately 40 miles from Madison, H&R Block associates volunteered after learning the Salvation Army of Dane County and the Salvation Army of Rockford & Winnebago County had a shortfall of bell ringers for their Christmas Kettle Program. H&R Block associates from 15 area offices volunteered at 12 different locations around town while greeting potential donors with a warm smile.

“The value of volunteers is more than a number. We truly appreciate each volunteer for the time and expertise they provided when it comes to volunteering and we are humbled that H&R Block chose us to help,” said Major Mark Martsolf, volunteer coordinator at the Salvation Army of Rockford & Winnebago County.

East: Working for something bigger than themselves

In Manhattan, New York, associates from 22 area H&R Block offices volunteered to staff seven thrift stores benefiting Housing Works, a nonprofit organization whose mission is tackling the dual crisis of AIDS and homelessness. H&R Block volunteers donned their best Housing Works aprons and greeted shoppers, organized racks and tidied up the store.

“Housing Works volunteers play a vital role in our thrift shops, bookstore cafe, health centers and fundraising events. Each volunteer brings their own unique set of skills which helps us keep our stores stocked, our customers happy, and our shops looking beautiful. Together with our community of volunteers we’re able to fuel our mission to end the dual crises AIDS and homelessness,” said Willa Tsokanis, volunteer program coordinator, Housing Works.

In Worcester, Massachusetts, located about 40 miles from Boston, H&R Block associates from 23 area offices participated in One Team Day of Giving by holding a toy drive benefiting the Boys & Girls Club of Worcester. Just last month, those same associates pitched in to host one of three Child Safety Fairs in and around the greater Boston area at several Boys & Girls Clubs to educate children and families about fire safety, bike safety, water safety, poison control and much more.

“Our professional staff and our club kids benefited by having volunteers in our community help. Without their involvement, we would serve less kids,” said Ellin Terrill, director of marketing and special events at the Boys & Girls Club of Worcester. “Volunteerism sends a message to our kids that they are valuable and that people in the community care about them and want them to be successful.”.

Meanwhile, in Sarasota, Florida, H&R Block associates from 15 area offices partnered to help the Suncoast Blood Bank (SCBB) by volunteering at 10 different blood drives around town. Not only did they donate blood themselves, but they also helped check in patients, served drinks and snacks and waved street signs to draw attention to the blood drives and recruit potential donors. This is not the first time H&R Block associates from Sarasota have helped the Suncoast Blood Bank. For the past two years, they have provided the Suncoast Blood Bank with a total of $9,640 in contributions as part of their Nonprofit Referral Program.

“As the community’s only local nonprofit blood provider, we strive to keep the cost of maintaining a safe and reliable source of blood products as low as possible and we can only do that with the support of volunteers,” said Jayne Giroux, director of community development at Suncoast Blood Bank. “Our partnership with H&R Block has brought a totally new demographic to our blood bank. We have been able to meet and educate individuals about the importance of blood donation that we have never been able to reach.”.

South: Where action meets compassion

Not to be outdone, in New Bern, North Carolina, which recently experienced devastating effects from Hurricane Florence this past September, associates from three area H&R Block offices volunteered at the Food Bank of Central and Eastern North Carolina to help pack, sort and organize the donation warehouse. Prior to that, over two dozen H&R Block offices throughout North Carolina participated in a Thanksgiving food drive benefiting victims of Hurricane Florence by donating 450 pounds of nonperishable goods and raising over $3,500 toward the same organization.

“Hurricane Florence had a devastating effect on central and eastern North Carolina. The Food Bank will be there for the long rebuilding process thanks to the impact made by organizations like H&R Block,” said Elizabeth Moss, food and fund drive coordinator for the Food Bank of Central and Eastern North Carolina. “Community support through virtual food drives, physical food drives, and volunteering enables us to ensure our mission that no one goes hungry in central and eastern North Carolina, and we are so grateful.”

In Thomasville, Georgia, located approximately 30 miles from Tallahassee, Florida, associates from a local H&R Block office volunteered to clean, paint and do lawn work at Hands and Hearts for Horses, an organization that provides animal therapy to special needs children and adults.

“H&R Block’s contribution was extremely important to Hands and Hearts for Horses. We are a small staffed non-profit and rely heavily on volunteers to assist with day to day activities as well as maintaining the property,” said Susie Shin, director at Hands and Hearts for Horses. “We serve almost 90 riders with special needs and disabilities per week and oftentimes property clean-up and minor repairs get put on the back burner. H&R Block’s contribution helped us make minor property improvements and ensure that our facility is operating at the optimal safety and cleanliness level.”.

Meanwhile, in Southaven, Mississippi, located about 14 miles from Memphis, Tennessee, H&R Block associates from eight area offices helped St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital by assembling Craft Packages for the organization’s Happy Carts program, which goes to inpatient rooms several nights a week to offer patients and families a welcome distraction. Just a few months ago, this same group of H&R Block associates walked and ran a 5K race with other associates from around the country, to raise more than $55,000 to help St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital end childhood cancer.

“While tremendous strides have been made in research and treatments thanks in large part to St. Jude, we must act with urgency to help end pediatric cancer, which affects nearly 300,000 children worldwide each year and remains the leading cause of death by disease in U.S. kids today,” said Richard Shadyac Jr., President and CEO of ALSAC, the fundraising and awareness organization for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. “We are thankful for all of our partners and the multitude of supporters who are making a difference by raising awareness and support for our lifesaving mission: Finding cures. Saving children.”

West: A work of heart

Additionally, in Agoura Hills, California, located approximately 35 miles from Los Angeles, they recently experienced disaster due to the Woolsey Fire that scorched 96,949 acres of land. H&R Block associates from 54 area offices helped Las Virgenes Fire Relief by volunteering to sort, pack and organize supplies and food donations while others rolled up their sleeves to help with the cleanup and rebuilding process.

“We’ve had to assemble and move quickly after the Woolsey Fire tore through our community. There were so many people to help and they needed help now. There is power in numbers and the more people who volunteer, the quicker and better we can help our neighbors in need,” said Kim Prince, director of communications at the Las Virgenes Fire Relief. “Because of H&R’s commitment to service, we knew we could rely on those volunteers to take a task and run with it.”

Even more heartwarming was the effort by local H&R Block associates at two area offices in Albany, Oregon, located about 70 miles from Portland, to hold a pajama drive to help CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates for Children) of Linn County, which supports and advocates for children in foster care.

“As a small non-profit, we rely on traditional community volunteers who give their time and talents to one of our many community projects or fundraisers,” said Julie Gilman, executive director of CASA. “Without help from businesses like H&R Block, and the wonderful people working there, we simply couldn’t provide as many abused and neglected children in our foster care system with a crucial one-on-one advocate.”

Last but least, in Leander, Texas, located approximately 26 miles from Austin, H&R Block associates from two area offices got into the holiday spirit and partnered with the Leander Police Department Blue Santa Program to help deliver bikes and other holiday gifts to underprivileged children in the community.

“The Leander Blue Santa really depends upon the support we receive from community businesses and organizations such as H&R Block to be able to provide a great Christmas for needy families in the community. Without their support, we would not be able to meet the need for gifts and bikes that we hand out each year,” said Sgt. Helen Garrett, community services sergeant at the Leander Police Department.

Providing help and hope across the country and across six decades

H&R Block has always striven to provide help and hope for its clients, associates and the community with corporate philanthropy and volunteering. It’s a mission that has rung true to the brand since the very beginning when brothers Henry and Richard Bloch founded the company in 1955. Whether it’s helping victims of natural disasters rebuild or hosting child safety fairs or providing meals to the homeless, H&R Block associates have always had a passion for giving back and helping the communities where they live and work.

The idea for H&R Block’s One Team Day of Giving came from two separate days of giving. This past September in Phoenix, Arizona during H&R Block’s annual retail meeting, nearly 500 H&R Block associates worked in 108-degree weather for hours nailing, digging, cleaning and painting; all to improve the learning experience for kids at a local inner-city school. Then, this past October in Nashville, Tennessee during H&R Block’s annual franchise convention, more than 2,000 franchisees volunteered to give back to the community by packing meals, gathering gloves and hand warmers for veterans and made a tremendous impact in a very short period of time to a number of organizations.

“That got us excited, so we asked ourselves what could we do that’s even bigger than that? And that’s when we decided on One Team Day of Giving,” said Karen Orosco, senior vice president of U.S. retail at H&R Block. “This day is just one more example of how our franchisees and corporate associates care about the people and communities where we all live and work.”

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Monica Glukstad

Former Contributor

Monica Glukstad contributed local client, product and associate stories to the H&R Block newsroom. She has more than 15 years of extensive agency and corporate experience in the public relations and communications field. She’s a proud graduate of the University of Miami and holds a master’s degree in public relations and corporate communications from Barry University. In addition to her work as a newsroom contributor, she also held the role of Latino newsroom anchor.

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