How would you feel if you were in a room with 7,500 bears?
Teddy bears, that is -- along with various other stuffed animals of all shapes and sizes.
For the past 10 years, Bank of American Fork has operated Project Teddy Bear, a program that connects needy and at-risk kids with the fuzzy, huggable friends.
Through Project Teddy Bear, more than 32,000 new and gently used teddy bears have made a difference in the lives of kids since the project started.
Project Teddy Bear is not the only way Bank of American Fork gives back. According to Cortney Western, PR and Seminar Specialist at Bank of American Fork, the bank contributed more than 2 percent of its profits to local charitable causes in 2010. And the bank expects a similar ratio in 2011. That amounts to tens of thousands of dollars every year.
It's not all about money, either. Bank employees and officials spend thousands of hours volunteering in their communities. From 2008 to now, Bank of American Fork employees have donated roughly 2,235 hours of time in volunteer work - "that we know about," Western points out. "There are obviously many hours contributed by employees outside of what we track."
While many companies and individuals focus their philanthropic efforts on far-off places, Bank of American Fork is committed to giving back to the communities it serves. That means it's all local. And with eight of its 12 branches located in Utah County, there's a lot coming back here.
Vice President of Communications Christopher Liechty says keeping it local is part of a company-wide policy.
"We are a community bank... we are focused on our communities, and so our charitable contributions are in alignment with that," he says. "We support everything from marching bands to basketball, football and soccer teams for boys and girls. It kind of depends on the request."
One notable example of community giving: In 2010, Bank of American Fork helped establish the Saratoga Springs Public Library. Liechty describes the bank's matching grant program as "a huge success," and says the bank also donated basement space in its Saratoga Springs branch to store the library's books while they were being collected.
In addition to his role at Bank of American Fork, Liechty donates many hours of his time to education. He serves on a variety of boards at the UVU Woodbury School of Business, and assists with branding and development there.
A few of the local causes Bank of American Fork has donated to in 2011: Family Support and Treatment Center, Christmas Box House, American Fork Rotary Club, Odyssey of the Mind, House of Hope, among others.