Wrapped in Warmth

 By Sue Reames

Thanks to the generosity of the employees of MarksNelson Certified Public Accounting and Business Advisors and their Wrapped in Warmth project, many homeless individuals of Kansas City will be better able to face the bitterly cold winter ahead.  In November of 2016, employees donated 132 coats and blankets to Project Warmth.  They recognized that the program provided warm coats to the homeless but not the accompanying hats scarves and gloves needed to stave off the cold.  To address that need, employees began to collect new purchased items.  Wrapped in Warmth began when employees were invited to wrap the company’s Christmas tree with those scarves, gloves and hats instead of the usual ornaments and tinsel.  A dedicated group of employee knitters emerged, and they have continued to meet throughout 2017 to knit items for this year’s tree. Personally knitting the items by hand is not a requirement, the participants are quick to point out. This particular group just loves to donate their particular knack for knitting.  “It’s relaxing,” says Nicholas Tinoco, who is learning to knit as he works on his first scarf.

Wrapped in Warmth knitters, such as Chris Johnston and Nikolas Tinoco, share laughter and knitting advice at MarksNelson Accounting where they balance lunch, bags of yarn and knitting needles to prepare handmade scarves and hats for Kansas City’s homeless. Photo by Sue Reames.

Last December, a few days before Christmas, employee volunteers tied more than 400 hats, scarves and gloves around trees and light posts in Washington Square Park for the homeless to take and use.  Attached to each item was a note:  “The spirit of the season has found you.  We hope this item keeps you wrapped in warmth all winter long.”  Kim Woirhaye-Reid, Marketing PR Specialist, tells of a woman who watched the volunteers as they placed the items on light poles around the downtown library.  The woman approached, said that her gloves had been stolen at a shelter where she had spent the previous night, and asked if she could have a pair.  When offered a second pair of gloves, the woman said she only wanted to replace the ones that were taken but that had been worried how she was going to do that. “You are the answer to my prayers,” she told Woirhaye-Ried. Linda Freeman, a Partner at MarksNelson, adds that the whole project seems to help the recipients of the items to know warmth both inside and out.

Wrapped in Warmth is just one part of MarksNelson’s community outreach program, Marks of Kindness.  The award-winning program encourages all employees to become personally involved in doing community work that makes an impact.  To that end, the company uses innovative ways to inspire the workforce to serve the community.  A planning board annually surveys MarksNelson employees to see which non-profit organizations they want to engage.  Projects are chosen and employees are encouraged to find creative ways to move the project forward.  Past efforts have included raising money to purchase TV’s for the Ronald McDonald House.  MarksNelson observes a Volunteer Day each year, closing the office so that each employee is free to donate their time and energy to a community volunteer project.

This Christmas, MarksNelson (Kansas City’s largest locally owned accounting firm) will place items in Washington Square and in front of the Main Library, two locations where the homeless gather.  Hoping to exceed last year’s total of 400 items, MarksNelson employees offer an invitation to the public to participate in Wrapped in Warmth.  The public is invited to drop by the MarksNelson offices at 1310 East 104th Street, Suite 300, before December 19 and add new purchased or hand-knitted scarves, gloves or mittens to the barrel in the lobby. For more information visit the website at http://www.marksnelsoncpa.com/join-marksnelsons-wrapped-warmth-campaign.

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