Making brighter birthdays for at-need kids

Pioneer Services' team members help Operation Breakthrough with more than 500 birthday gift bags

Team members at Pioneer Services, the Military Banking Division of MidCountry Bank, recently volunteered their time and creativity to help hundreds of local children celebrate upcoming birthdays with a unique gift. In an effort to assist Operation Breakthrough—a local nonprofit that provides child care for up to 670 children—and to give back to the community while at work, Pioneer Services associates were asked to decorate a number of "birthday bags." The bags will be stuffed with goodies and presented to children on their birthdays throughout the year.

To encourage participation, and have some fun at the same time, Pioneer Services sponsored an internal decorating contest in which associates were asked to come up with their most creative and innovative ideas. A committee then selected the top 15 creations, and associates voted for the top three designs. The company provided all the materials necessary to decorate, while the associates provided their time, talent, and creativity.

More than 500 bags were created over a 10-day period in what, at times, became a spirited and competitive contest. First place went to a Sponge Bob Square Pants design, second to a Mickey Mouse gift bag, and third place went to a polka-dot and hearts creation.

"Our corporate culture really recognizes the importance of giving back to the community, and our associates enjoyed this opportunity to team up with the folks at Operation Breakthrough," said Karen Von Der Bruegge, chief marketing officers at Pioneer Services. "Of course, the real winners were the kids, who will have nice keepsake thanks to all those who helped in this effort."