What started as a set of unused funds has grown into something much larger at an Isabella County business.
Mears Group Inc. — a fortune-500 company in Rosebush — has had a contributions committee for many years.
In 2012, the five-person committee realized it had un-allocated funds at the end of the year and decided to use that money to help a family in need.
Gary Lynch, program coordinator of the contributions committee, said the group contacted six local schools to see if there was a family that particularly needed help. After that, the group decided to make it a yearly tradition and the Mears Christmas Adopt A-Family program was born.
The program is funded by Mears employees as well as Mears groups. The employees support two luncheons each year and all of the money raised goes to the program.
Lynch said the group “loves” to help others and is lucky to do so.
“Next to family and friends, the next best thing I love about life is helping other people,” he said. “I’m very lucky I work with many people that have the same feeling about helping people.”
In 2013, Mears provided six families with household items and non-perishable food. The schools they worked with included Mt. Pleasant, Rosebush, Clare, Beal City, Harrison, Coleman and Shepherd.
In 2014, the company adopted 15 families from 10 different schools. The additional schools were Farwell, Vestaburg, Montabella and Chippewa Hills.
A year later, the group’s budget increased to $11,000 after two “successful” luncheons. The money allowed them to adopt 22 families in 2015.
Lynch said 2016 has been a “great success” and Mears’ yearly budget is now at $12,400 — which allowed them to adopt 25 families this holiday season.
Mears provides supplies such as soap, towels and wash cloths. They also try and provide a family game or two and one or two toys for each of the children.
To date, Lynch said Mears has donated $16,000 worth of items and has had a total of $39,400 in funding. Lynch said he thinks the program will continue to grow and help more and more families over the years.
“I anticipate that the program will grow at a fairly rapid pace,” he said. “My goal is that we will add a minimum of five families per year for many years to come. This is very exciting.”