Giving Back Year-round in Plymouth

Businesses in your backyard that give back 12 months a year.
Sherry Dawson (on right) and Angel Copen (on left).

At one point or another, we've all been guilty of putting 'giving back' out of our minds until we hear the Salvation Army red-kettle bells ringing. Even though the holidays have passed, it’s not too late to give. Take a look at these Plymouth businesses that give year-round, and start planning your next donation or volunteer activity.

Northwest Animal Hospital loves to introduce kids to the science of caring for animals by hosting kids’ groups and clubs, veterinarian Sara Williams says. But that’s just the start. In addition to community education, Northwest Animal Hospital works with Leech Lake Legacy, an organization that rescues stray animals on the Leech Lake Reservation that would otherwise be euthanized. Northwest volunteers spay and neuter animals so they are fit for adoption.

Northwest created a first aid training course for police K9s and taught some Plymouth K9 officers how to care for their four-legged partners if they are injured or ill. “The kits include medicine to induce vomiting if the dogs ingest drugs, and thermometers and fluids to recognize and treat shock and heat stroke,” Williams says. Just a few months after the training, a dog was saved after the officer recognized the heat stroke symptoms he had learned about in class. It’s one of the reasons they built the clinic in the first place, Williams says. “One of our core values is to give back to the community and share our talents.”

Boger Dental works with Smiles for Life to raise donations for different charities. “They keep half [of funds raised] for children’s charities, and the other half is given back to us for our two charities of choice,” dentist Chad Boger says. Theirs are the Ronald McDonald Care Mobile and the Smile Network; the latter helps perform life-changing surgeries, such as those for cleft palates, for poor families in developing countries.

Boger Dental also works with Donated Dental Services through the Minnesota Dental Association. The program helps people who are elderly, medically fragile, or have disabilities and cannot afford necessary treatment. Through the program, the patients are assigned to participating dentists, including Boger. The team has participated in Toys for Tots and the March of Dimes, and tries to find charities that a Boger team member has a personal connection to. Finding one is never difficult, Boger says. “It’s not hard to find people in need.”

Partners in Pediatrics
does medical mission work year-round by volunteering at the Greater Minneapolis Crisis Nursery. “[The kids] come to our office if they become ill while staying at the nursery,” clinic administrator Mary Jenkins says. “Our staff has supported [the nursery] in many ways through the years. One of our doctors is their volunteer medical director.”

In April 2014 a team of providers and staff members spent a week in Haiti on a mission trip through Heart to Heart International. The training and preparation alone took hours of volunteering, Jenkins says. Each team member paid his or her own way for the trip and took a week off work to go to the community that was ravaged by an earthquake years ago and continues to recover.

Kennedy Vision works closely with the Lions Club to collect prescription glasses for those in need in developing countries. “The Lions Club gets them cleaned up, figures out the prescription, and they pass them along to doctors that go to other countries,” practice manager Sherry Dawson says. The glasses are collected from patients who no longer need them, but “you don’t have to be a patient,” Dawson says. “You just have to drop them off!”

Kennedy Vision also works with the Minnesota Vision Project to give free eye exams and glasses to those who can’t afford them—often children who are having trouble in school. “Vision is such an important thing,” Dawson says, “especially for those young ones who are struggling or having a tough time [in class]—anything to help out and make their lives easier.”