Warm Hearts, Deep Pockets

Do what you love, the good works will follow

by Virginia Lindauer Simmon

VPT-Downton-Abbey-chefShawn Calley (left), executive chef, and Arnd Sievers, European master chef, both of The Essex Resort & Spa, researched Downton Abbey–era cuisine for VPT’s culinary, cultural, and social event, Experience Inspired by Downton Abbey, coming Jan. 5 to The Essex. An advance public screening of the Season 3 premiere will take place at Essex Cinemas.

Contributed photography

Since 2008, we have set aside space in our December issue to honor the many and varied ways our readers find to give back to their communities. Each year’s story has been crafted around a theme.

This year, we decided to investigate the creative ways business people find to connect their own interests to their charitable endeavors. Thus our paraphrase of the title of Marsha Sinetar’s 1989 book, Do What You Love, The Money Will Follow.

Food, hunger, the homeless

One of the most common areas of regular giving is addressing the needs of the hungry, the poor, and the homeless.

Consider a program like the one at Lenny’s Shoe and Apparel’s Day Before Thanksgiving Charity Sale. Shoppers using pre-purchased VIP tickets ($5 each) received exclusive, storewide savings and Lenny’s sent a hundred percent of ticket sales to the Vermont Foodbank.

Food and beverage purveyors have devised all kinds of creative programs. Vermont Restaurant Week, presented by Vermont Federal Credit Union and organized by Seven Days, created a business boost for participating restaurants as it raised upwards of $6,000 for Vermont Foodbank this year. Clever paths to donation included texting the phrase “FOODNOW” to donate $10; “liking” the Vermont Federal Credit Union on Facebook to contribute $1; attending a Sweet Start Smackdown dessert competition among 10 of the state’s most talented pastry chefs; and joining the Salon, a meetup at Burlington’s New Moon Café with renowned author Barry Estabrook and food writer Marialisa Calta.

DockDogs-A-1-OR-2-COL_optThe annual Shelburne Museum Goes to the Dogs! event this year featured DockDogs, a “Pawlympics” competition.

Individual restaurants hosted specials throughout the year. For example, Michael’s on the Hill gave 20 percent of its May 10 proceeds to Hunger Free Vermont.

Vermont brewers and wineries are no slouches when it comes to charitable endeavors. Woodchuck Cider employees picked 4,000 pounds of apples this fall, then bought and donated them to the Foodbank.

Shelburne Vineyard’s annual Autumn Food and Wine Festival benefits the Chittenden Emergency Food Shelf. Admission is free; just arrive with a non-perishable food donation. Offered were free tastings of beverages (from Shelburne Vineyard, Eden Ice Cider, East Shore Vineyard, and Artesano Mead) and tasty tidbits from the likes of Red Hen Bakery, Cavendish Quail, Saratoga Olive Oil, Vermont Smoke & Cure, Vermont Creamery, Shelburne Farms, and Blackflower Chocolate.

The National Bank of Middlebury sponsored Dinners With Love, a nonprofit that facilitates donations of quality restaurant meals to hospice patients and their families. Participating restaurants include a long list of establishments in Rutland and Addison counties.

YMCA-NorthCountry-Fede_optNorthCountry Federal Credit Union executives Bob Morgan (left), CEO; Sarah O’Neil, community outreach coordinator; Lisa Huyer, CFO; Tanya Cushing, human resources manager; and Julie Longfellow, marketing director, pictured at the YMCA’s annual awards ceremony, sponsored by the credit union.

Creative cooks found an outlet this year in Cabot Creamery’s Backyard Recipe Contest. Cabot donated $5 to Hunger Free Vermont for every recipe submitted. Stoweflake Mountain Resort & Spa and NECI were sponsors.

City Market and the Onion River Co-op, itself a nonprofit, held a week-long campaign encouraging donations to Hunger Free Vermont at the checkout. Shoppers who contributed received paper “lunch trays” reading, “I Fed a Child,” which were displayed in the store.

Don’t forget the year-round needs of local food shelves, which can use volunteers as well as cash and food donations. Offer yourself or your employees to work for a day (or more) stocking shelves or picking up donations from area supermarkets. Or offer your expertise to the food shelf board.

VSECU-Vt-Foodbank-1-CO_optSteve Post, CEO of VSECU, and John Sayles, CEO of Vermont Foodbank, jointly announce VSECU’s three-year financial pledge to the organization.


There are myriad ways to support endeavors aimed at prevention or cure of diseases. Affiliates of national organizations (think Heart Association or American Cancer Society) receive much publicity for their local events.

If you prefer smaller milieus, you might be inspired by Finer Things 2012, held at Vermont National Country Club to benefit SLAM diabetes (aka Type 1). In partnership with Danforth Pewter, Crosshair Communications put on the private showcase of luxury products and services with a day-long wine-tasting, hors d’oeuvres, and music.

Don’t discount private contributions, large or small, to organizations that have done great work. After researching the best places to find treatment for his blocked artery, Tom Evslin, entrepreneur and self-described “former Vermont stimulus czar,” and former secretary of transportation, learned that Fletcher Allen was one of the best places in the country to have it done. In thanks for the care he received, he and his wife, Mary, donated $1 million for heart research at Fletcher Allen and have started the Cardiovascular Angel Club to generate similar donations.

Arts, entertainment, and the digital world

After a devastating flood ruined the administrative offices of COTS (Committee on Temporary Shelter), Logic Supply donated over $3,000 worth of computer hardware.

Kelly-BrushThe annual Kelly Brush Century Ride to benefit the U.S. Adaptive Ski Team is powered by VBT Bicycle and Walking Vacations.

To help celebrate Banned Books Week, Bear Pond Books in Montpelier sponsored An Evening Without. The annual ACLU of Vermont presentation featured well-known Vermont authors reading from books that have been banned for one reason or another over the centuries.

Magic Hat Artifactory hosted the third annual Wall to Canvas event, an urban arts (think graffiti) competition in the brewery parking lot to benefit the Shelburne Craft School.

Vermont Public Television helped two statewide causes at once when its longtime supporter Northfield Savings Bank donated three meals to the Vermont Foodbank for every contribution to VPT in November and December.

Kids VT, the monthly parenting magazine, partnered with the Vermont Symphony Orchestra to present “A Symphony of Whales” at three venues in October. The three shows were sponsored by Almartin Volvo, Small Dog Electronics, and New England Federal Credit Union. In April, the VSO’s annual radio auction over the stations of the Radio Vermont Group raised $20,045.

Children and youths

Consider a scholarship program. New England Federal Credit Union gave three valued at $3,000 each this year. Vermont Federal Credit Union increased its scholarship amounts from $1,000 to $2,000 and opened up its program to more students.

Encouraging future bankers, NBT Bank launched a youth and young adult banking platform to help young people navigate personal finance and grow into financially responsible, independent adults.

Citizens Bank distributed 400 new backpacks filled with school supplies, donated by the public, to schoolchildren across Vermont.

FairPoint Communications did what it does best and drilled and set 17 telephone poles and anchors, critical components for rebuilding the Therapeutic Ropes Course at the Upper Valley Stewardship Center, which had been damaged in 2006.

Biker-Claus-Green-Mt-H_optDavid and Debby Pearson of Green Mountain Harley-Davidson (aka Mr. and Mrs. Biker Claus) sponsor many biking-related events such as an annual Chili Polar Ride to benefit the Burlington Emergency Shelter.

Disaster relief and community service

Earn “borrowed stars” by joining a group that does good work. The Vermont Ski Areas Association’s Operation of Mountain Love, a call to ski and snowboard community to help support Sandy recovery in New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut, was launched in November at the Boston Ski and Snowboard Expo.

Among the Burlington Rotary Club’s many acts of charity was a $2,000 contribution to the Flynn Center’s capital campaign. The Red Knights of Vermont Chapter 3 in Rutland raised money for The Dodge House, a home for displaced veterans, through its Red Knights Motorcycle Ride in July.

In August, more than 160 employees of Green Mountain Coffee Roasters used paid time off to pick up over 800 tires, nearly four tons of scrap metal, and three tons of trash in and around the Winooski River from Montpelier to Waterbury.

In league with their cohorts across the country, 100 KeyBank Vermont employees prepared meals for the homeless and the ill; planted flowers for nonprofits; did painting and construction work for a teen center; baked cookies and brownies for Vermont Respite House; the list is long.

And not to be soon forgotten was Hurricane Irene. Relief events continued well into 2012 and included the Long Trail Brewing Co. re-release of Goodnight Irene Ale to support the Vermont Foodbank and the Vermont Farm Disaster Relief Fund; and The Barn at Boyden Farm’s formal affair, Dancing in the Moonlight, benefiting the Vermont Farm Disaster Relief Fund.

Get to work.