- Navigating Contributions
How industry partners and local businesses are empowering local communities by giving back.
Tricia Jacksonon Apr 09, 2020
For over thirty-eight years, Custer has created exceptional workspaces that empower people to do their best work. But today, we’d like to shift your focus to our customers and partners who are initiating efforts to empower their communities in response to the coronavirus crisis.
In times like these, we believe it’s important to support each other by sharing knowledge and spreading good news. Here, we provide a list of ways you can get involved in your local community through efforts coordinated by a few of our industry partners and customers in both West Michigan and Northeast Indiana.
The list below should not be considered an official report of the many various causes and efforts to give back, so our team will do our best to continue to keep this page updated. If you would like to let us know about a community effort not yet included below, please submit it to us here.
The West Michigan-based furniture manufacturer announced it has partnered with the healthcare community to produce protective masks and shields for frontline workers from its production facilities. Included in the announcement, Steelcase shares mask templates and instructions, calling on ‘anyone with a sewing machine’ that can help with production.
Garage Bar and Grill
Owner Kevin Farhat partnered with a handful of local businesses, including Custer and Century, to prepare and supply 100 free meals a day to laid off workers for the 30 days – ending March 27th. Although this effort has concluded, this Grand Rapids bar’s generosity is worth sharing. Garage Bar and Grill remains open for takeout, and gift card purchases are available here.
Grand Valley State University
GVSU stepped up to meet the potential needs of Grand Rapids residents by transforming its Cook-DeVos Center for Health Sciences into an alternative care site for Spectrum Health if needed during the COVID-19 pandemic. The contingency agreement between Spectrum Health and GVSU, two of Custer’s valued customers, “embodies the West Michigan culture” of working together, said Tina Freese Decker, President and CEO of Spectrum Health.
Custer’s partner in custom company apparel and promotional merchandise, RADco Apparel, is supporting local businesses and charities with their fundraising efforts by furnishing custom e-commerce sites and offering product distribution from your site’s sales. Given today’s importance of digital environments, we think this is a great local platform to utilize when giving back.
Bliss & Vinegar
This locally-owned and operated restaurant took notice of a generous customer who anonymously ordered meals for Emergency Room staff at both Butterworth and Blodgett hospitals. The gesture inspired B&V owners to participate with contributions of their own – promising to match incoming healthy meal donations and delivering those meals to healthcare workers at Mercy Health Hospital beginning next week.
This local design and technology studio announced this week they will be making thirteen $300 economic impact grants available to Kendall College of Art and Design students. If you are a KCAD student contact the school’s Financial Aid office to apply.
Kids’ Food Basket
Kids’ Food Basket works to combat childhood hunger, supplying meals to nutritionally at-risk children in West Michigan. Today, the organization’s efforts have amplified exponentially in response to school closures, providing meals to children whose families otherwise count on the reliability of school meals. Countless organizations across West Michigan have stepped up to partner with KFB during these critical times. Text “KFB” to 56651 if you’d like to contribute to KFB’s emergency relief efforts.
Hearts of West Michigan United Way
Given the current Shelter in Place order in Michigan, in-person volunteer opportunities have shifted to be almost entirely digital. One unique opportunity in particular is the request for handmade cards and art for Hospice patients, also doubling as a great opportunity to involve the kiddos! Other agencies are increasing volunteers to help with increased food and supplies needs. Click below to browse all of the unique opportunities to give back.
The Portage-based medical response devices manufacturer acted fast in response to the pandemic, marshaling a team of over 120 individuals overnight to build a new Emergency Relief Bed – from concept to launch in as little as seven days. The now available, limited-release product features a 30-degree head of bed angle to accommodate patients in respiratory distress, including ventilated patients. It also features low height and an attached IV pole. Stryker anticipates producing 10,000 beds a week to meet increased needs.
Recently named as a partner to Steelcase in producing the furniture manufacturer’s promotional merchandise from leftover scrap fabrics, this local for-profit social impact startup is calling on the community to help meet the demand of PPE for frontline healthcare workers. Contributions requested range from fabric and other material donations, volunteered time spent sewing from your home, and monetary donations.
The widely recognized handbag maker, headquartered in Fort Wayne, announced it has transitioned in-house workforce to begin sewing general protection (not medical quality) masks out of the company’s distribution facility. At this time, the masks are intended for healthcare workers in the area, but the company is looking into making them available to the general public.
Three Rivers Distilling Company
The Fort Wayne distillery announced it is now producing up to 400 gallons of hand sanitizer per day. As of March 26, the company had donated roughly 375 gallons to various groups in the Fort Wayne community, including area police officers, EMS, firehouses, hospitals, healthcare centers, and nursing homes. They are asking nearby businesses to contribute to the cause with donations of 99.8% isopropyl alochol and 35% hydrogen peroxide.
Zimmer Biomet Foundation
Leaders from Zimmer Biomet Foundation met with K21 Health Foundation, Kosciusko County Community Foundation, and United Way of Kosciusko County to create a unified response to Warsaw area’s needs as a result of the pandemic. Collectively, they are issuing $20,000 in grants to area food pantries. These grants are considered the first wave of relief, with additional grants to be released in the coming weeks as needs evolve.
Purdue Fort Wayne
A relief fund has been established to help Purdue students cover unforeseen living expenses due to the pandemic. Students in need are encouraged to initiate an eligibility review process by sending an email to the vice chancellor of student affairs at firstname.lastname@example.org. Donations to the COVID-19 Student Relief Fund may be also made online at pfw.edu/give-now.
Fund the Fort
Putting their software development knowledge to use, a local couple created a website called Fund the Fort to curate a list of GoFundMe campaigns and the like for the city’s restaurants and their staff in response to the pandemic. While Fund the Fort is primarily for local businesses, the developers say they will post opportunities to support servers and staff at corporate chains in Fort Wayne, too.