Doyle & Ogden Insurance co-founder Del J. Doyle worked tirelessly with his wife, Jean, to build a legacy of philanthropy and volunteerism in Grand Rapids, Michigan.
"My mom and dad always tried to make a difference for those who are less fortunate," according to company president Mike Doyle. "We created the Del J. & Jean B. Doyle Family Foundation to ensure their commitment to the community lives on."
Since 2005, the foundation has supported a variety of causes in Michigan and beyond. In the winter of 2009, when a Doyle & Ogden employee learned that local kids were arriving at school without coats the staff and the foundation took action.
"We had internal fundraising events to buy coats, and several of our team members made scarves and hats for each coat we purchased," said Sara Rouse, a customer-service agent for the company. "We gave 50 coats, but that didn't fully meet the need in even that one school," she added.
A few years later, the need has grown — but so has Coats for Kids. With support from Doyle & Ogden's partners, the program now serves four schools in the Grand Rapids area, donating 450 coats in 2016 alone.
Each coat is labeled with a child’s name, and the agency brings extra coats in case it doesn’t fit right. Here Leysha Ortiz, Secretary at Cesar Chavez, DeYoung and Samariz Hernandez, Community School Coordinator call out names.
Everyone at the company volunteers with the program, Rouse said, from coordinating with schools on the sizes needed to shopping for the coats (most of which are purchased during online sales or on Black Friday).
While something as simple as a new winter coat might seem minor, it makes a huge difference to these children. "Many of our students haven't had any new piece of clothing — ever," said one worker at a school supported by Coats for Kids. "It was so awesome for them to have the confidence of walking outside, feeling warm and looking cool."
Seeing that excitement is the most rewarding part of Coats for Kids, Rouse said. "It brings the team pure joy to see the kids' faces light up when the coats are delivered."
A 2017 Safeco Insurance Make More Happen Award will help the Del J. & Jean B. Doyle Family Foundation spread more of that feeling. The honor comes with a Safeco donation of up to $10,000 to the foundation on behalf of Doyle & Ogden Insurance.
"Every penny of this gift will go toward the cause," said Doyle. "It will help us more than double the number of coats we purchase — and have an even bigger impact on our community."
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