WSN puts the “fun” in fundraising

WSN’s Baxter office attempted to spur on the competition by reporting the appearance of massive cans of soup in its parking lot.

Have you ever witnessed an engineer precisely calculate the inertial mass of a soup can? Had you walked into the offices of Widseth Smith Nolting (WSN) last week you could have marked that off your bucket list. 

For the third year in a row, WSN employees spent the first full week of March in a variety of efforts—like rolling soup cans down a ramp—to collect monies and canned goods for their local food shelves. At the week’s close, firm-wide contributions were tallied leading to almost 8,800 pounds of food and $5,700 in donations. Utilizing USDA statistics and national food shelf average meals per dollar figures, that equates to more than 30,000 meals for those affected by hunger.

Results have increased each year, but nearly doubled from 2016 to 2017. A possible reason according to Jim Krueger, one of the Alexandria office’s organizers, was employee involvement.

“The increase is directly related to participation,” said Krueger estimating a 95 percent involvement from his office. “We had employees stepping up to lead events for the first time and almost everyone got involved in the fun.”

To help drive awareness and provide chances to donate further, each office planned activities during the week. For instance, the Grand Forks office hallways served as the perfect venue for pick-up games of bean bag toss while Alexandria’s morning and afternoon breaks were filled with bouncing ping pong balls punctuated with grunts of effort as employees payed a dollar for each match.

But Krueger added the real competition was bigger than all the events. From Bemidji to Rochester, the firm’s eight locations were pitted against each other in an effort to out-perform their colleagues and at the end of the week, donations by location were tallied and a winner was declared.

“Competition is the key to its success,” said Krueger pointing out the formation of intra-company rivalries. “It makes you take ownership in your office for bragging rights.”

As the inaugural winner, Alexandria had a lot at stake in their attempt to regain their title from Crookston who won in 2016. However, the week closed with WSN’s newest location, Forest Lake, taking the victory by coming in at more than 380 pounds of food per employee. This was in part thanks to the Baxter office who, in a defensive move against the two former winners, shifted its donations to the newest kid on the block.

“It was a great opportunity for Forest Lake to be indoctrinated into how our multi-office firm works together,” laughed Tim Houle, who serves both as a partner in the Baxter location and office manager of Forest Lake.

“But, beyond the rivalry and fun, seeing the end result is a reminder of something that many of us unfortunately take for granted,” continued Houle. “WSN’s food drive reminds us to be gracious and thankful while helping others who aren’t as fortunate.”