Raising Expectations for Charity

We interviewed Shawn Christie at Lowerys recently as part of the development of our Charity Connect program. The Charity Connect program is designed to make it easier for Chamber businesses to find ways to help Chamber charities, and one of the things we’re learning along the way is that many Chamber businesses already have programs that make it easy for local charities to ask for help. Lowerys was a great example of this.

Lowerys is one of Thunder Bay’s largest office suppliers. They’ve been in business since 1905, guided through steady, intelligent growth by four generations of Christies. Over 114 years they’ve built their business from a gift and stationery store on Cumberland and Park to a larger location on Red River Road and then into a 36,000 sq-ft location on Central. Today their operations include office supplies, office furniture and design, office equipment, printing and imaging, janitorial/sanitation supplies, computer equipment and IT services and, most recently, Wireless Warehouse, an electronics repair shop. They also own Kakabeka Crystal water company.

Lowerys current operations, which Shawn says aim to provide a single point of contact for “anything office,” have grown to support full-time jobs for 84 local people.

Another of the things we’ve learned as we’ve interviewed business owners like Shawn is that business owners have different ways of helping. Some prefer focus, choosing to spend most of their resources on one charity of choice; others try to spread their help around. Lowerys actually does both.

In support of all charities, Lowerys offers a corporate discount and special tailored programs. Shawn says he’s looked closely at the way charity offices operate over the past decade of his own involvement with his charity of choice and that their charity program aims not just to give organizations money back, but also to create them efficiencies that save staff time and stress – a challenge every charity knows well. We actually had a chance to ask Amber from Shelter House, one of Lowerys’ charity clients, about this in a later interview, and had her confirm glowingly. “We love them,” she said; “– they’re awesome!” and explained that she’s been able to outsource most of her office problem-solving to the Lowerys team.

At the same time, Shawn is a United Way Leader of the Way, investing his own time and cash from his own pocket, leveraging the Lowerys connection wherever it’s needed – for example, in their sponsorship of the upcoming United Way Billboard Rescue, which they’ve been co-sponsoring for over 15 years. Although this year the event will be hosted by co-sponsors Investors Group at their location around the corner on Jade Crescent, Lowerys will be involved in promoting it and fundraising for it, as always. Between events like this one, staff contributions and personal contributions from Shawn and his family, Lowerys has helped raised over $1.5 million for United Way Thunder Bay in the past 15 years.

When you choose to support a local business like Lowerys, you’re choosing to support the jobs of all the local people they employ, helping to keep your neighbours working. You’re also contributing to their capacity to help local charities like United Way of Thunder Bay and Shelter House and indirectly supporting the less fortunate in our community. When you ChooseTBayFirst, you help make our community better for everyone.

Stay tuned to local news for information about the 27th Annual Great Billboard Rescue, coming up in May!

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