Crow Wing Power is pleased to announce the winner of the 2022 Commitment to Community Award is the Office Shop, Inc. of Aitkin and Brainerd. Their story is one the truly has played out with tremendous community outreach.
Jodie and Scott Johnson may be best known locally as owners of the Office Shop, but many people are unaware of a situation in their personal life that spawned a philanthropic cancer fund for children.
Thirty years ago, their infant son, Zachary was diagnosed with Leukemia when he was six months old and his sister was just three. Zach was also born with Down Syndrome, which complicated the situation. The uniqueness of Zachary's medical situation, however, helped doctors understand how best to treat patients like baby Zach and ultimately created medical breakthroughs.
The Aitkin-based family experienced a lot of trials and tribulations in those yearly years, but the 'made it through' according to Jodie and Scott because of the tremendous emotional and financial support they received from their employees, family, friends and the community, especially the Aitkin Women of Today and the Aitkin Jaycees that Jodie and Scott were members of. Employees had to run the fairly new business, while Scott and Jodie were consumed with medical concerns.
The company financial support was overwhelming. At the time, Scott and Jodie were young and able to use some of the funds for long extended hospital stays, however they were compelled to do something to help other families going through similar situations.
They partnered with the local Riverwood Healthcare Center's Foundation and created the Zachary Johnson Kids with Cancer Fund. The fund provides financial support to local families who have a child under the age of 21 with cancer.
Jodie said, "We figured out a way to raise funds to support the program and that's where our Office Shop employees rallied for a cause."
They designed and ink and toner cartridge recycling program, where they collect and sell used cartridges for remanufacturing. Delivery drivers, retail customers and employees continue to promote the recycle program that currently recaps an average of $15,000 per year.
The Riverwood Foundation administers the Fund and has been instrumental in fundraising as well. Families with children diagnosed with cancer can contact Riverwood Foundation in Aitkin to apply for a $2,000.
Commitment to Community recognition details: Each year, Crow Wing Power and other participating electric cooperatives around the State, seek out local organizations that show exceptional commitment to community. Our winners receive a plaque and $1,000.
Their project will also be submitted to the State-wide award, they would receive and additional $1,000 and plaque at the Minnesota Rural Electric Association's annual meeting in 2023.