Wenatchee Valley Business World

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Cover Story | For these businesses, giving back is its own reward

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Businesses donate time and money helping their communities become better places to live.

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NCW — With so many people in need and opportunities to help, Apple Valley Honda couldn’t pick just one cause.

The East Wenatchee business sponsors the annual Coats for Kids drive. It buys livestock at auctions, donating the meat to Lighthouse Christian Ministries, and holds fundraisers for the Royal Family Kids Camp for abused and neglected children. Employees also contribute to The Salvation Army’s toy drive.

We live in an awesome community, so how could you not want to give back to it?” General Manager Tod McLaughlin said. “I think it’s the greatest reward there is in life, personally. If you think about what brings people more joy than anything, that is serving others.”

Contributing to so many causes takes work, and the biggest obstacle is finding the time. It’d be easier to just write a check, but McLaughlin strives to get employees as hands-on as possible.

I personally think they enjoy their job more,” he said. “They excel at their job the more they’re involved within the community, the more they serve.”

Businesses throughout the region have seen the benefits of giving back.

Fabi Enriquez, owner of Queen Formals in the Wenatchee Valley Mall and La Mia Amore in Wenatchee, has donated to the Wenatchee Prom Giveaway for four years. She said she tries to give at least 100 dresses.

It helps reduce her inventory, but it also gives recipients one less thing to worry about.

Most of them are already tight on budget with how expensive their senior year can get,” Enriquez said.

She said recipients often return to her shops later because they remember the donation.

And the word gets around to other families,” she said. “‘Why shop online when we can shop local? Let’s help this local business out.’ Retail business is very difficult. It’s really hard for any of us to stay open. The internet has taken over everything, … but it’s really nice to come in and shop local.”

Martin’s Market in Cashmere holds food drives throughout the year, including around Thanksgiving and Christmas. Customers buy groceries or donate cash that the store then gives to the Cashmere Food Bank.

The food bank was buying some of their stuff during the holidays from one of the big box stores,” General Manager David Weber said. “That didn’t make me feel very good. I approached them and said, ‘How can we be more involved with you guys when you have needs?’”

For Make a Difference Day in October, the store hosted a diaper drive. It also provides discounted groceries to Cashmere Cares, which helps local students, and puts out a coat rack each winter for people to donate or take what they need.

It all ties into the slogan for Martin’s Market stores: “Hometown proud.”

We hear that we’re very community-minded, and that makes you feel good,” Weber said. “You hope it resonates and that people like to shop here and support the community.”

Washington Trust has been giving away food and drinks at the Bridge of Sportsmanship football game between Wenatchee and Eastmont high schools for the past few years. The bank also donates cash to each school’s booster club.

Each branch adopts a family for the holidays. Washington Trust also donates money and time to Small Miracles, which provides lunches to children in need during the summer.

Like McLaughlin, the bank’s area manager, James Greathouse, said volunteering can be a challenge.

Sometimes they want more of your time than you can give because we’re busy at work,” he said.

However, he said, giving back leaves employees with a “warm and fuzzy feeling.”

It’s not really business-driven type activities,” he said. “We don’t expect anything but to help out the community.”