Caring for Our Community Blog

First American Helps Ready In-Need Students for New School Year

Written by Blair Hedigan


With the beginning of another school year just around the corner, First American offices across the nation organized back-to-school donation drives to support children in their local communities.  The various drives enabled economically-disadvantaged children to begin the school year prepared for class and ready to learn.

Operation_Backpack_NYC_Photo_2.jpgAt First American’s New York office, title officer Dawn Beaton teamed up with lead recorder Ajete Cuca and executive assistant Elizabeth Andrias to organize a donation drive to support Operation Backpack.  Run by the Greater New York chapter of Volunteers of America, Operation Backpack collects brand-new backpacks filled with school supplies and distributes them to homeless children who would otherwise begin the school year without the supplies they need to succeed.  Dawn and her fellow organizers opted to prepare backpacks for children ranging from 5th to 8th grade.  The office purchased 100 backpacks and employees filled them with supplies such as binders, notebooks, graph paper, protractors and calculators.  Employees also provided several boxes of additional school supplies, which were donated alongside the filled backpacks.  “Looking at all the donated backpacks and school supplies and knowing that we helped to make the lives of these struggling children a little bit brighter – that’s the reward,” said Dawn.

“The drives bring a great amount of teamwork to the office,” said Kristy.  “Our employees are eager to help make a difference in the community.”

Open_Hands_3.jpgSince 2012, First American’s Minneapolis, Minnesota office has arranged yearly donation drives for Open Hands Midway, a nonprofit organization that serves the St. Paul Midway area by assisting economically challenged individuals and families.  For the past four years, senior commercial escrow assistant Kristy Marleau organized the donation drives for backpacks and supplies, and employees distributed the filled backpacks at Open Hands Midway events for families financially unable to purchase school supplies.  “The drives bring a great amount of teamwork to the office,” said Kristy.  “Our employees are eager to help make a difference in the community.”  This year, Kristy handed the reins over to commercial escrow manager Alison Cole.  Under Alison’s planning, employees and clients joined forces to donate 500 backpacks filled with supplies such as folders, notebooks, pencils, erasers, rulers and more.  This year’s drive brought the Minneapolis office’s total number of donated backpacks to 2,500.

BTSCD_Photo_8.jpgIn Phoenix, Arizona, First American account manager Bonnie Smith serves as a member of the Board of Directors for Back-to-School Clothing Drive (BTSCD), a nonprofit organization founded in 1967.  The BTSCD serves over 9,500 Phoenix-area children every year during their “New Clothes, New Beginnings” clothing distribution program.  First American’s Anthem branch helped raise funds for the program by hosting a dinner and auction for both employees and clients, and many donated additional funds to support the cause.  “Through the Back-to-School Clothing Drive, we can make both a tangible and intangible difference in a child’s life,” said Bonnie.  “The tangible is the new uniform, shoes, backpack and hygiene supplies, while the intangible is the self-confidence these items grant the child.”  This is the Anthem branch’s fifteenth year supporting the BTSCD, which believes that providing clothing and supplies to the children of financially insecure families breaks down barriers to early childhood success.

“These children deserve to have the supplies they need for academic success.”

OKC5.jpgTitle assistant Michelle Cook is the co-chairman of the First American Caring in the Community Committee in Oklahoma City and helped organize a back-to-school drive for a local elementary school.  Of the students currently attending Cesar Chavez Elementary School, 95% qualify for free or reduced meals, and 90% of students have at least one sibling attending the school as well.  This means that many students do not have adequate school supplies because of the financial strain on their families.  The school’s teachers created a list of in-demand items such as crayons, pencils, glue sticks, markers and more.  The Caring in the Community Committee distributed the list to participating Oklahoma City offices so employees could donate the items students needed to be academically prepared for the new school year.  “These children deserve to have the supplies they need for academic success,” Michelle said.  “They should not be penalized because they come from a lower economic standpoint.”

The back-to-school donation drives didn’t stop at these four offices.  First American’s Santa Ana campus collected school supplies for a local low-income elementary school.  The Oregon Tri-County offices donated supplies to Friends of the Children, Portland.  Over fourteen First American Florida offices hosted back-to-school drives that benefitted several local schools and organizations such as Friends of Foster Children, House of Hope and HOPE Helps.

First American has a long history of assisting the communities where its employees live and work.  The company supports human services as part of its philanthropic and community service program, Caring for Our Community.  The program encourages employees to donate to organizations that provide access to services, education, benefits and opportunities for the disadvantaged.  Local back-to-school drives embrace the Caring for Our Community philosophy as employees help to better the lives of low-income children and families in their neighborhoods.


Topics: Human Services

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