Season of ThanksGIVING Program Recap

Steve and Shirley Huston fully realize how challenging these past few months have been for people throughout our local communities. They wanted to do something tangible that would bring a bit of encouragement and joy to those in need entering the holiday season.  

With BANKWEST’S motto of “Building a Legacy of Caring” in mind, Steve and Shirley presented each employee with $100 and asked them to find creative ways to bless individuals and/or organizations within our local communities. 

The saying, “It is more blessed to give than to receive”, has never seemed more relevant and real than it did over the past few weeks as employees reached out and shared love, kindness and support to those who needed some hope and care. 

Read on as BANKWEST employees give detail as to how the funds were shared and received with surprise, delight and gratitude. 



Kelli, Shirley, Tammy, Tanya, Laura, Lori, Lynn, Anna  – We combined our funds to gift both residents and the staff of Park View Care Center in Buffalo. Kelli reached out to Michelle Hunter, Activities Director at Park View and explained “Season of ThanksGIVING” and asked for their “Wish List”.

Immediately Michelle said they would love an Apple iPad which would allow residents to FaceTime and Zoom with their families. She also mentioned throw-blankets, old-fashioned hand warmers/muffs, and Bingo prizes would also be much appreciated.

I am thrilled to report that with the money the bank provided, along with $250.00 of our own money, we were able to provide the Center with two Apple iPads along with all the other requested items. The items were delivered by Lynn, Laura, Shirley, and Kelli to Michelle on Thanksgiving Day. We even had a few dollars remaining so we donated it to The Salvation Army “Red Kettle”.

Thank you to the bank for giving us this opportunity! We were all truly blessed by this “Season of ThanksGIVING”!

Kealani – This program was so wonderful. Parker’s 3 rd grade class was accepting donations of gifts, food, clothes and money to help the less fortunate children in the Hanover community. We made the donation at my son Parker’s school and this will ultimately go to St. Paul’s Lutheran Church to be used on a “holiday gift shopping day” for parents in need that live in the area.

Steve and Jackie - We “teamed up” and directed our funds provided by BANKWEST for the Season of Thanksgiving program to a family living in Buffalo.

Here is a quick overview of their situation: years ago, a couple lost their 21-year-old son as he passed away in their home from some type of a medical condition that they were unaware of. A few years ago, the father was diagnosed with cancer and has been going through treatments and thus has not been able to work. Since he is not employed, their family is no longer covered for health insurance through his work and are trying to pay insurance through the State Insurance program. His wife is employed part-time but does not receive health benefits. They have two children in college that I think have had to drop out of school so they could work, and there is not any school funding available from mom and dad.

Randy and Debbie – We donated $200 to a family of Buffalo whose two-year-old daughter was diagnosed with leukemia. At the age of two, this beautiful child has had multiple blood transfusions, bone marrow testing and now is undergoing chemotherapy treatments. Mom had to quit her job so that she could stay at Children’s Hospital with her daughter. Dad is continuing to work to try and keep the family afloat.

Kara and family - We talked as a family and ultimately let our son Tommy decide what we were doing, which was really cool to see - he made lists and asked his friends (without mentioning the source) what they would do if they had $100 to give away. The overwhelming answer was to "make people smile, everyone is stressed/sad/blue right now.” 

We decided to get ten $10 gift cards, split between Target and Aldi. Tommy and I went to both stores and handed them out saying, "We just wanted to do something nice today, Happy Thanksgiving!" and "We wanted to put a smile on your face today, Happy Thanksgiving!" as people shopped for Thanksgiving essentials. 

We got a huge range of reactions. A few people said that they were feeling really alone, but happy to have someone care.  One gentleman told Tommy that he blessed his day and bowed to him. Four families said they were going to purchase cards so they could do the same.

Dan – I worked with a Lake Ridge Care Center Coordinator who inquired of residents if they were in need of any personal items. She in turn provided me a list of those items and then went out and shopped for them. I purchased personal hygiene products and clothing for the residents.

Tammy, Julie, Laura, Diane and Betty – We pooled our money to gift a single parent of three children who is going through financial and emotional distress.

We reached out to Love Inc. Executive Director Jonathan Parker inquiring if he knew of someone that we could bless through this program. He responded immediately that he knew of someone that needed this kind of help. We decided to provide this single parent with gift cards from local merchants and cash totaling $525 as the financial burden weighed heavy on her especially during this time of year. Miscellaneous Christmas gifts valued at $50 was also included.

We are thankful for Steve and Shirley’s generosity in providing us these funds so that we could in turn give meaning and hope to a family going through these unfortunate circumstances. It was a rewarding experience for all of us.

Beth and three grandkids - We delivered healthy snacks and a handmade card to the hospital for the health care providers in the emergency room on Thanksgiving Day. I chose to share this opportunity with the kids so that they could experience the joy that comes from giving.

Justine – I provided the $100 to a mom of a young girl who contracted a viral infection about a year ago. She developed a serious condition targeting the neurological functions. In the early months, she was unresponsive, and they didn’t know from one day to the next what to expect.  Life is still bringing many challenges to this family. 

I was inspired to match the $100 along with a card with a narrative regarding “Season of ThanksGIVING”.  I wanted to do this anonymously to really feel the joy of giving with no thanks in return. Sparking this wonderful feeling of pure giving is so much appreciated. Thank you so much for this opportunity of giving and reminding me that there is still good in the world.

Ted – I reached out to the Treehouse Daycare Center and Hanover Elementary School to find out if anyone was past due on their accounts that could use the funds. There wasn’t anyone behind at the center and free lunches were provided to students at school through the CARES Act. I then directed these funds to the Hanover Food Shelf.

Craig - With my association with Rotary and Toys for Tots, I realized the funding need for the Toys for Tots program would be even higher this year, so I directed my funds to the Buffalo Toys for Tots program.

Sarah – I gave this some thought and kept circling back to the staff at Rockford Schools. And, with the Rockford Education fundraiser being held in late November, I donated the $100 towards the “Fund the Teacher” needs. As you know, with all the changes the teachers are faced with, I just feel every bit of support they can get in any way is worth it.

Lyn – I chose to purchase various treats for the ambulance base employees in Buffalo. This base has around 40 employees that service the communities of Buffalo, Rockford, Hanover, St. Michael and Annandale. Oftentimes, these employees just need a quick bite to eat during their busy day. I personally will forever be grateful that we have this dedicated service in Wright County.

Becky – I contacted a friend who has connections with the local food shelf and Crisis Nursery and just always seems to know of people in need in the Buffalo area. She gave me the names of three single moms who are hardworking and just good people but could use something to make them smile. I liked that they work in healthcare too. I purchased three $30 Cub Foods gift cards for them with a little note of thanks.

With the remaining funds, I purchased a $10 Cub Foods gift card and gave it to the lady that offered to let me go ahead of her in line at Walmart.

Libby – I donated my Season of ThanksGIVING money to the Rockford Friends of the Library. There are a group of volunteers in the community who help the library by fundraising for new projects and helping locate new materials or items for the displays. Some of the things they do are organize a yearly book sale/bake sale, fund some of the prizes for the winter and summer reading programs, and they even helped fund some of the new carpet! The money I donated is going to help cover some of the funds they would have received during the book sale because they can’t sponsor one this year due to COVID restrictions.

Sydney – I donated supplies (movies, treats, prizes) to a socially distanced movie night for a youth group at Maple Hill Estates.

Toni – I donated these funds to the Buffalo Food Shelf as so many families are in need of this service.

Madeline – a family that I know had a house fire, so I donated $100 to them to purchase Christmas gifts.

Abby, Denise and Savanna - Each of us is an animal lover and as such we chose to spend our funds on a large assortment of dog food, cat food and cat litter. The items were donated to a local non-profit, For the Love of 4 Paws. This organization provides pet essential items to people in need in order to keep their fur babies happy and healthy, but most importantly in their homes!

On behalf of all of us at BANKWEST, may the spirit of the holidays move us all to acts of kindness and generosity. Blessings to you and your family during this holiday season and throughout the New Year!