M&T Bank donates $500 for Work Builders Block Party!

Posted by Ryans Dad on 2nd March 2011

Probably the biggest challenge I have found in helping Ryan orchestrate his Work Builders Block Party the last two years has been to find a way to pay for it. After funding the first event (2009) entirely out of pocket and seeing the second year’s event grow in size almost twofold, it was obvious that something would need to change in order to make this whole idea viable in the future.

Thanks to one of Ryan’s chosen charities being open to working with us on this, for the 2010 event we were able to solicit donations (to SOS Shelter) which are earmarked for the costs we incur. Excess funds stay with the charity for their benefit. However, this alone did not mean funding was a done deal! No. What followed was a lot of time and effort spent reaching out to anyone who would listen (and some who probably preferred not to) to find donors. It was a tougher job than I would have guessed going in.

When all was said and done for last year’s Block Party, I was able to generate enough donations to cover our costs, barely. Maybe I was naive, but I thought I could have managed triple that.

Pictured left to right: Cindy Armstrong - Mortgage Originator M&T Bank, Glenn Small - Regional President M&T Bank, Ryan Steadman - CEO Work Builders, Deby Drave SOS Shelter Board President, Carrie Hyde SOS Shelter Manager, Leia O'Connell SOS Shelter Administrative Manager

Then a bit after the new year I got a call from Cindy Armstrong, a Mortgage Originator at M&T Bank and summertime golfing friend. Last fall I had approached her as well as many others trying to generate some donations. At that time she told me it would have to be considered by other decision makers within the bank and they would let me know. I heard that a lot I have to tell you. But here she was a few months later letting me know.

The news was good! They had decided to make a donation of $500 in support of Ryan’s Work Builders Block Party! Wow! What a great way to get things kicked off for 2011! A week or so later Ryan was invited to meet with Cindy and Mr. Glenn Small at SOS Shelter offices to accept their generous donation.

So after school on that day I took Ryan to the SOS Shelter offices to meet our friends from M&T Bank. We were greeted by a variety of people from SOS Shelter pictured above. They had a lot of the donated Easy Builder building block sets on hand to show our donors what it was all about, toys for kids in need.

Ryan could not resist showing everyone exactly what his block sets are made for, PLAY!

Soon Cindy Armstrong arrived and shortly there after Mr. Glenn Small arrived as well. Mr. Small is a Regional President for M&T Bank. They had lots of questions for Ryan about what he has been doing, where the idea came from and how it makes him feel. I think Ryan did a good job talking with them and answering their questions. He let them know how we appreciate their donation as well!

We would like to send a very big thank you off to Mr. Small, Cindy and all the others at M&T Bank for their donation and support! I hope others will see their support and decide to help us as well. We are hoping to make the 2011 event even better and this kind of help will go a long way toward helping us reach that goal!

2Mar

Ryan makes his donation to SOS Shelter!

Posted by Ryans Dad on 21st December 2010

Ryan at SOS Shelter offices

Ryan makes his donation to SOS Shelter Inc.

Last night Ryan visited the executive offices of SOS Shelter and donated 65 sets of his Easy Builder building blocks for their use. Ryan was greeted by five members of the SOS Shelter board and staff. It was a happy visit and fun for Ryan to complete his goals of distributing toys for the holidays again this year.

These 65 sets of building blocks were the result of Ryan’s second Work Builders Block Party and the help of 175 volunteers who attended this year. Roughly two weeks ago Ryan also donated a similar number of building block sets to Toys for Tots. His donation to Toys for Tots happened at his elementary school with all of his second grade classmates there to see.

If you would like to support Ryan’s efforts to help charity, your tax deductible donations will support the Work Builders Block Party! Get all the info here!

21Dec

Piecing together the puzzle of a Block Party.

Posted by Ryans Dad on 8th October 2010

We’re off to a great start towards pulling off the Work Builders Block Party again this year. But there is one more piece to this puzzle I am anxious to put together. How do we pay for it all?

100 dollar bill puzzleThe first Block Party was a whirlwind that happened over a span of two weeks time from concept to event date! I didn’t have time to worry about how the costs were getting covered. I was focused on making it happen and happen it did. This year promises to be as big or bigger and the costs will grow accordingly.

So how do we pay for it? Soliciting donations seems like a reasonable idea. The effort is all for charity after all. But, Work Builders is not a non-profit and anyone asked to contribute will want to know their donation can be a tax deduction in the spring. It only makes sense.

So I started asking a few questions earlier this summer. I asked people who know more than I, “How do you become a non-profit?”. The answers were not encouraging. My take after numerous conversations is that it would take a lot of work and significant costs to make it happen. It seemed prohibitive.

Then I happened to spend 5 minutes talking with the right person and everything changed! There may be a way. Anyone who works extensively with non-profit organizations would probably know this but it was a revelation for me. If we work closely with one of the non-profits we plan to support, we can solicit donations (to that organization) which are held for our use! Wow!

There are deeper details to the whole thing but the net result is that it opens the door for two great things to happen. First, we can generate funds which will pay the costs of our event. And second, we may be able to generate greater funds which can benefit our charity in an even larger way! As they say, it’s a WIN-WIN!

So, we are trying to put this relationship together and keeping our fingers crossed that this will work. If it does I am sure you will be hearing about it.

If you would consider helping us with a contribution (or know someone we should contact) please contact us here! As soon as we have a solid plan for making that happen we will be in touch. Even small contributions will help a lot. I hope you will consider it.

8Oct

Six-year-old businessman gives 50% of profits to charity!

Posted by Ryans Dad on 25th February 2010

After saving for the last few months, Ryan’s hard earned profits had grown to the point where it seemed time to make his donation to United Way of Broome County. So, yesterday I picked him up from school and we headed over to the United Way offices here in Vestal, NY to do just that. Ryan had decided on his own long ago that he would give a full 50% of his Work Builders profits to United Way. This was his first chance to put that plan into action.

Ryan shows off his blocks for the TV cameras.

Ryan shows off his blocks for the TV cameras.

Last week I contacted United Way to let them know Ryan wanted to make his donation. They were already aware of his charitable activities supporting Toys for Tots and SOS Shelter as well as his intentions for supporting United Way once his profits accumulated. In fact they have been very supportive of everything Ryan has been doing helping to spread the word and even buying some of his blocks.

When we arrived there were already two TV camera crews there and two more would come shortly thereafter. There was also a reporter from the local newspaper who had come for the story. They took a little time to interview Ryan as best you can with a six-year-old and he shared a bit about the day’s donation and how he had raised the funds. At one point Ryan was surrounded by four TV cameras and a photographer. That was without counting me. I did come prepared with camera in hand and took a few photos of my own! Ryan seemed to take it all in stride. I was able to find the news report done by News 10 Now online. You can view the video here.

Ryan with Mr. Alan Hertel, Executive Director of United Way of Broome County.

Ryan with Mr. Alan Hertel, Executive Director of United Way of Broome County.

Next Ryan got to meet Mr. Alan Hertel, Executive Director of United Way of Broome County, who was looking forward to meeting Ryan and would personally accept his donation. Mr. Hertel waited patiently as did the room full of news crews as Ryan carefully counted out the money he had brought to donate, $60.00 in all. Ryan then gave his donation to Mr. Hertel and in return received a receipt for his records. I’ll talk with him more about that later. Mr. Hertel talked with Ryan a bit about how his donation helps United Way and some of the things United Way does for our community. Before he was done, Mr. Hertel also bought a set of blocks from Ryan. A nice surprise that added to the fun.

When Ryan left the United Way offices he had a smaller stash of money in his shiny money box, but I do believe he had a bigger smile than the one he arrived with. He really enjoyed making his donation and I enjoyed watching him.

25Feb

Ryan’s donation to Toys for Tots, finally!

Posted by Ryans Dad on 18th December 2009
Ryan Steadman and Marine LCpl Danbach

Ryan Steadman and Marine LCpl Danbach

Delayed a bit by some uncooperative weather, Ryan was able to make his second donation of Easy Builder building blocks this week. This donation was to Toys for Tots and was great fun. Toys for Tots representative Marine LCpl Danbach came to Ryan’s 1st grade classroom at Vestal Hills Elementary School, in dress blue uniform no less!

Ryan had a total of 51 complete sets of his building blocks on hand to give to Toys for Tots. In addition to that, his 1st grade teacher Mrs. Finch and the class added some more toys to the donation. The class has been following Ryan’s efforts to support charity and his teacher has used this to help teach about leadership and charitable giving. It’s been great to see Mrs. Finch and her class be so supportive, thank you! The school even added some photos from the day to their web site for all to see.

News 10 Now and WBNG News crews, on hand to capture the event

News 10 Now and WBNG News crews, on hand to capture the event

The school district had contacted local media about the donation so there was also some TV coverage of the event. This added a certain degree of excitement for the class on top of the Marine in uniform. Our cable news channel News 10 Now did a very nice story about the donation that Ryan made which you can view online from their web site.

The 1st grade class enjoyed the visit from LCpl Danbach thoroughly and they all behaved very well throughout. LCpl Danbach took time to talk with the class answering questions about Toys for Tots as well as a few about his experience in the Marines. I have to say he was quite skilled at addressing their inquiries carefully regardless of the nature of each question. It was evident this was not his first experience with kids.

The kids had some time to check out the building block sets as did LCpl Danbach. Then the TV reporters did some interviews with Ryan, LCpl Danbach and myself. Most importantly, Ryan got to make one more donation of his building block sets which made him very happy. With a smile, Ryan mentioned that it was a fun thing to know that on Christmas morning some kids somewhere would be opening a present that he had made. Then they would play with them and have fun. A nice thought indeed.

18Dec

One goal achieved, giving away blocks!

Posted by Ryans Dad on 10th December 2009
Ryan at SOS Shelter board meeting

Ryan attends SOS Shelter board meeting

Today was the day on which Ryan finally got to deliver dozens of Easy Builder building block sets to charity. Ryan was invited to attend the monthly board meeting for SOS Shelter, one of the charities he decided to support by providing his building block sets as a donation.

Thanks to the help of over 100 volunteers who attended our Work Builders Block Party in November, Ryan was able to donate 51 sets of his blocks to SOS Shelter. We took Ryan and his blocks to their board meeting and the donation happened there. Before the meeting began we filled the conference table with sets of blocks for the board members to see.

Ryan was first on their agenda for the meeting so after a brief introduction Ryan opened up a set of blocks for them to see. Then the board members were all encouraged to open up a set of the blocks sitting on the table in front of them and check them out hands-on. Ryan enjoyed watching them “playing” with the blocks and they seemed to like the donation he made. A few of the board members had a question or two for Ryan and after that we were on our way.

As we headed home with the block sets left behind, I asked Ryan what he thought of the evening. He simply said that he “felt good”. I sort of felt that way too.

10Dec

Building block donations will happen this week!

Posted by Ryans Dad on 6th December 2009
Ryan & Collin preparing Easy Builder building block sets for donation to Toys for Tots and SOS Shelter

Ryan & Collin preparing Easy Builder building block sets for donation to Toys for Tots and SOS Shelter

It has been roughly two weeks now since the Work Builders Block Party took place and we have been busy here at home preparing to make the donations of Easy Builder building blocks. With the block party producing over 1,200 building blocks to work with, Ryan and the rest of us have been working on finishing the collection of 100 sets of blocks.

The work left to do after the block party has been to finish painting some of the blocks that didn’t get painted that day, separate the blocks into 12 block sets, package them into individual carrying bags and put on some identifying tags. With 1,200+ blocks prepared, this turned out to be more work than we would have guessed, but it is all good.

Next up is the fun part, Ryan gets to finally make his donations. He is really excited about this! I have to say that I can see it in his eyes every time he personally delivers a set of his building blocks to a customer, his eyes light up and he is delighted to see their face when they receive the blocks.

One day last week I took Ryan out after school to deliver some of his block sets to his local customers. In each case I noticed that he waited long enough to see them open the bag and check out the blocks. The more they liked them, the more excited he was. He is truly enjoying this.

Ryan preparing blocks for donation

Ryan preparing blocks for donation

But back to his donations. This week he will be making donations to both Toys for Tots and SOS Shelter. On Wednesday a Marine Staff Sergeant will be coming to Ryan’s first grade classroom to receive Ryan’s donation of 50 sets of Easy Builder building blocks for Toys for Tots. Then he will be making his second donation to SOS Shelter on Thursday. When all is said and done all 100 sets of blocks will be on their way to some deserving charities.

It is going to be a fun week and I am truly looking forward to seeing Ryan’s face when all of this comes to fruition.

6Dec

Our six year old entrepreneur plans to support charity

Posted by Ryans Dad on 4th November 2009

Early on in this process Ryan told me that he wanted to use some of his money to support charity. After much discussion over the last few weeks around our house Ryan has now decided on some charities that he plans to support. He has selected three charitable organizations to help with a variety of reasons for each one. It is a lofty goal that we will work towards together. Stay tuned, we may ask for your help along the way!

Ryans chosen charitiesFirst is Toys for Tots Syracuse NY. This was an obvious fit for Ryan and he liked the idea right away. His reason for choosing Toys for Tots was very simple. “They give toys to little kids that might not have any.” Ryan would like to provide some of his Easy Builder building block sets to Toys for Tots for distribution this holiday season. Although there is no local office for Toys for Tots in the Binghamton area, we may have some interesting plans in the works to facilitate Ryan’s donation.

Next on his list to support is the SOS Shelter here in Binghamton, NY. The SOS Shelter provides emergency shelter for victims of domestic violence in our community. Ryan learned of this organization from his mother as she explained that she has made donations to them in the past. He has a natural sense of empathy for all kinds of people in need and seemed to feel a connection here knowing of his mother’s previous support. Like Toys for Tots, Ryan plans to provide some of his Easy Builder building block sets to the SOS Shelter for the benefit of those families with children who find themselves in the care of the shelter. As he put it to me, “They need toys in case they left all their toys behind when they left their house”.

And last but most certainly not least is the United Way of Broome County. This may be the toughest one to manage some support for in that this will be monetary support. As such it will require that Work Builders become financially successful in order to facilitate making a donation. We are working on that! What attracts Ryan to the United Way is that, “They help lots of different charities”. That pretty much says it all.

Now I’ll put on my proud Dad cap and say I could not be more proud of Ryan for his sincere interest in helping others. This has given us great opportunities to discuss and learn about how fortunate we are as a family and how we can help others in our community. I will also repeat for the sake of clarity that this plan to support charity truly originates with Ryan. Where he gets this I can’t know. At his age I was probably most worried about which toy to play with next or picking on my younger brother. Although he does have his moments with his younger brother, in so many ways he amazes me on a daily basis!

4Nov