Caring Committee in the Year 2020

Was 2020 a little different from previous years? The Caring Committee hardly noticed… in fact, you could say a year like 2020 is why Outsell formed the Caring Committee! Thanks to the strong Caring foundation of Outsell and our Associates, we were more than prepared to handle the trials of this tumultuous year. Let’s take a look!

Much of early 2020 feels like an entirely different year, doesn’t it? It’s hard to believe our first event took place in the office with Associates crammed together—sans masks—to watch some people get pied in the face! Our first Outsell Penny Wars was a success, thanks to those who selflessly offered up their faces. All told, we were able to donate $423 in pocket change to the MS Society and Feed My Starving Children after a short period of fundraising.

Our next event, the annual Outsell Bake-Off, was scheduled to take place in March. We all know what happens next. Yet due to our company’s agile working philosophy, we still managed to make an impact in the community in the early days of the pandemic. As schools started to shut down, the Caring Committee recognized a need to support families and children who were suddenly encountering food insecurity and raised $1,320 for Sheridan Story—enough to provide meal coverage for 330 children!

Outsell and the Caring Committee continued to find ways to remain flexible in the ensuing months by committing to small but effective projects, including:

  • Writing thank you cards to first responders
  • Stitching together masks for hospitals to offer patients
  • Establishing the Outsell Pen Pal program to keep company morale high during the extending stay-at-home orders

2020 will also be remembered for the history-altering events that happened right here in Minnesota. The Caring Committee organized both a Community Relief Fund and an in-person volunteer event on Lake Street in Minneapolis to help businesses that were impacted by rioting. The fund was a huge success overall, raising $3,630 from Associates to be spread out across the Lake Street Council (74%), YouthLink donations (16%) and the Boys & Girls Club of America (10%).

In October, a group of Associates got out of the house to help other homeowners in need by volunteering for the Habitat for Humanity A Brush with Kindness program. Thank you to everyone who gave up your time to paint and repair an existing home for low-income homeowners!

We’re all still feeling the emptiness in our bellies from no chili cook-off this year, though our first-ever virtual Pumpkin Carving Contest was quite the successful replacement! Thanks to a wide assortment of creatively carved pumpkins and our generous voters who put their dollars behind their favorites, we managed to raise $750 for the Boys & Girls Club of America.

The end of 2020 arrived with both a sense of normalcy and an exciting new achievement for Outsell and the Caring Committee. We wrapped up the year with our annual Toys for Tots drive, which was still a success despite not having the inspiration of our festive office holiday decorations. Thank you to everyone who contributed your money and your donations through the new virtual Toys for Tots donation platform.

As we enter the phase of the year for reflection and gratefulness, we want to express to all of you how incredibly moved we are by how much you’ve all used your Caring value to go above and beyond the call of duty. We’re always impressed with the commitment each year from our Associates, but this year, with so many obstacles in the way, we still came together to flex our Caring muscles in big ways. Thank you to everyone who got involved, and let’s keep the momentum going into 2021!


Is it getting “chili”? Must be autumn at Outsell!

After a busy summer of beer tours, bingo calling, and a ballin’ Ping Pong finale, Outsell and the Caring Committee are gearing up for the finish line this fall and winter.

First up was our annual Chili Cookoff. Once again, a talented group of chefs competed for the hearts and bellies (and generous donations) of their fellow associates. This time, we threw salsa into the mix to give those summer tomato growers a chance to show off their goods. With over 13 entries, the Caring Committee and Outsell raised $412 in total donations to be shared with our 2019 partner, YouthLink.

You can see the creative names of our best performers below, with IT professional Jeremy Forstner‘s “Have You Tried Turning It Off and Back On?” chili taking the top spot. He was also the first-ever recipient of the new chili pepper crown!

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And coming this December, it’s the return of our popular Craft Silent Auction! This is the event made for a company like Outsell and all the latent creativity harbored in our associates. From winter wear to shiny jewelry, the Craft Silent Auction gives generous bidders the chance to find a one-of-a-kind gift for the holidays while also supporting our Caring Committee’s causes. Watch out for more details on this event, scheduled for Thursday, December 12th!

ICYMI: Congratulations to Andrew Swisher from the Marketing team, who was our inaugural ping pong champion. Outsell couldn’t have asked for more from the epic match-up between Andrew and Eric Schilling from the Regional Sales team. It took all 3 rounds for Andrew to put Eric down… will there be a chance for someone to unseat him next year?

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Between the entry fees and the Championship Challenge for Charity, Outsell associates raised over $350 for local community partners. Due to the success of this event, there will also be an all-new Bags Tournament this fall, with a similar $5 entry fee per participant. Knowing the competitive spirit in the office, it’s sure to be just as exciting!

A Summer of Caring Continues at Outsell

The Outsell Caring Committee and all our helpful associates have been busy the last few months! Let’s take a look at what’s been going on…

May Drive

In May, we put on a donations drive to get necessary items over to our charity partner, YouthLink, heading into the summer months. Thanks to the selfless & committed work of our committee and associates, we were able to gather up over 1,400 items for disadvantaged youth in the community! Here’s what Jelena over at YouthLink had to say about our results:

Thanks to (Outsell’s) support, YouthLink is able to provide young people experiencing homelessness with hot meals, seasonal clothing, education navigation, housing resources, and more. Most importantly, your support helps us create a space where young people feel safe, supported, and ready to take the first steps toward their future of self-reliance.

Excellent work, everyone!

Tacos & Bingo

In June, Outsell Caring Commitee members & fellow associates went offsite to YouthLink’s facility to cook and serve some tacos for lunch. You may recall we did a similar event earlier in the year… but this time, we got to call Birthday Bingo as well! Attendees all mentioned having a great time, and we’re already looking forward to our next offsite event at YouthLink later this year.


July: Beer and Ping Pong!

No, these weren’t events hosted in an old college dorm. We’re talking about the Outsell Beer Tour and the inaugural Outsell Ping Pong Tournament!

Outsell associates headed out for an afternoon on the town to tour local breweries 612Brew, Able Seedhouse, and Indeed. These breweries agreed to host our group and, in some cases, provided us with prizes for a raffle. We had a beautiful, HOT, sunny day for enjoying drinks & socializing, and ended up raising over $200. Thanks to everyone who came out to support the hard work of our committee & YouthLink!

Brewery Tour

Also this month, Outsell began hosting a ping pong tournament to raise additional funds. 32 Outsell associates have volunteered (or were begrudgingly sponsored) to join the tournament at a $5 buy-in, with the winner receiving their very own trophy! Stay tuned to find out our first winner…

Money raised from these events will be used to support YouthLink in what is typically a slower part of the year for charities. Thanks to all associates for the support!


Serving at Youthlink provides good food for the soul.

Whew! Is it dusty around here or is it us? Time for some Spring cleaning!

youthlinkIt’s been quiet around here at the ol’ Caring Committee blog, but rest assured good things have been happening. First, we announced a yearlong partnership with local charity Youthlink to help combat youth homelessness in the region.

Children and Homelessness are two of our big areas of focus this year (as voted on by Outsell associates) and so we think Youthlink helps us with that quite well.

Second: The announcement of Caring Points! Are you a chair on a local charity’s board? Have you donated to a cause that’s close to you? Did you get dragged along by your S.O. to rake leaves somewhere? Why not get some points for it? Top 5 points-earners each quarter can claim some pretty sweet prizes (with the 1st place winner getting a cozy little Caring Bear to snuggle with at their desk!) You can redeem any points here. (P.S. Anything you did in March 2019 will be rolled into Q2 points, so don’t let your good efforts go to waste!)

For our event recap this month, we’ve got a guest post from Denise Slattery in Finance. Denise helped lead the charge for our first ever co-event with Youthlink: serving food at their facility. Denise and crew helped feed delicious tacos to a large amount of youth experiencing homelessness. You can even watch a time lapse of the event.

Take it away, Denise!

I am going to share with you our first Volunteer opportunity for our new Caring Committee partnership with Youthlink.

Our first event was the Sponsorship and preparation of lunch for 75 clients and staff.

Upon our arrival at Youthlink, Nell Campbell, Trevor Gehring, Kevin Finley and myself met with Jolena Song, the Volunteer Coordinator. She gave us a tour of the facility and told us about the various programs provided for their clients.

After the tour, Jolena introduced us to Kitchen staff, who are all clients there. The experience they gain by working in the kitchen helps them get jobs in the foodservice and hospitality industry.

We then got to work cooking, chopping and preparing all the fixings for a delicious taco bar. Kevin not only helped with chopping, he also shot a video of the preparations in the kitchen.  Trevor had what we considered the hardest job, chopping all the onions and not crying.

We really had a great time working together and received many praises from the people there, as this was one of the favorite lunches to be served.

Thanks, Denise! What a great way to kick off the Caring season for Outsell. We’re hoping all our events with Youthlink, both at the facility and outside of it, go as smoothly and are as well-received as this one. It’s only possible with the help of volunteers of Outsell and those coordinating events like this one.

If you’d like to hop on the Committee and help us with an event, let Linnea, Andrew or Erik know. We’d love to have you aboard! Stay tuned for more announcements of events to come, along with recaps like these.

And don’t forget to get in your caring points!

Caring Continues in the Fall

We’ve been quiet on the blog through the end of summer and into the fall, but with snow coming down outside (already!) it appeared to be time to offer a little update on our busy Caring Committee activities in Q3/early Q4.

This year, the Caring Committee played a “trick” on associates by pairing the Chili Cook-Off event with other Halloween festivities. The gamble paid off, with a total of $500 raised for the Franklin/Hiawatha Encampment to help with initiatives like preparing the camp for winter and additional services provided by Natives Against Heroin.

The Chili Champion this time around was Becky Radous with her unique spicy concoction. Congrats Becky!

Back in August, the Caring Committee put on the first joint Volunteer Day. On August 23rd, associates either ventured out to Simpson Housing to put together meals for the homeless or stayed in the office to put together toys & crafts for the transient animals of the Golden Valley Humane Society.

Overall, approximately 115 people experiencing homeless were made a meal, while the animals got a pretty cool snuffle mat.

The Outsell Caring Committee will conclude their busy year with a Snack Packing event and the always-popular Silent Auction, where Outsell associates are invited to enter items they’ve made at home or had a part in crafting. Stay tuned for our annual wrap-up later in December!


Outsell Puts a Few Away for Charity

Brew-TourThe revamped Beer Tour was another resounding success for the Outsell Caring Committee, drawing a brew crew of 23 thirsty associates and $237.11 going to Avenues for Homeless Youth. According to their website, “Avenues for Homeless Youth provides emergency shelter, short-term housing and supportive services for homeless youth in a safe and nurturing environment.”

The charity was selected to support the company’s focus on Homelessness in 2018.

This year’s tour began with a drawing for raffle prizes, a first for the event. A few associates went home with growlers from the participating breweries, as well as an assortment of Outsell swag. On the tour itself, 51 tickets were turned in to redeem drinks… though we wouldn’t put it past Outsell associates to purchase a few more on the side…


For the first time, participants could pay the committee via Venmo, a digital wallet that makes cash transfers online. This efficient new process made visiting the participating breweries much simpler than previous years, and could lead to promising new opportunities for future brewery tours and Caring Committee events.

We’d like to thank InBound Brew Co., Fulton, and Clockwerks Brewing for helping make this such a successful event! From all of us on the Outsell Caring Committee… SKOL!!

Associates tour Fulton Brewery. Photo courtesy of Wayne Moran.

Competition steers the 2018 Outsell Food Drive

Food Drive 2
Eric Mickols, Claire Helling, and Aaron Jerdee present Groveland Food Shelf with donations from the 2018 Outsell Caring Committe Food Drive

The Caring Committee’s Food Drive—one of the original events in the committee’s mission—returned stronger than ever in 2018 after some spirited competition between associates. Together, the company brought in 515 pounds of food alongside $960 in cash donations for Groveland Food Shelf!

Product Manager Eric Mickols kicked things off upon noticing the food collection was slow to start. Using his Innovation value, Eric threw down the gauntlet by donating an initial 25 items, while also allowing fellow associates a “head start” by sprinkling another 75 items around the office.

The trash talking ramped up until Jon Petron of Advanced Services decided enough was enough and gathered his team to fill a car full of food. Meanwhile, down on Floor 31 Aaron Jerdee campaigned his sales team for monetary donations to boost the overall amount.

Associates who donated to the Food Drive were entered into a raffle for an assortment of Outsell-branded prizes, including lunch with CEO Mike Wethington. It was another hugely successful event for the Caring Committee this year, meeting one of our Associates’ 3 desired initiatives in 2018, combating Homelessness.

Coming up next: The always-popular Summer Beer Tour! Profits from this year’s Beer Tour will be going to Avenues for Homeless Youth, so get your donations in for beer tickets today. The 3 breweries on the route this year include Inbound Brew Co, Fulton, and Clockwerks Brewing.

  • $20 Donation includes 2 Beer Tickets + 1 entry into the Craft Beer Themed Giveaway
  • $30 Donation includes 3 Beer Tickets + 2 entries into the Craft Beer Themed Giveaway


The 2018 Bake-Off is in the books

Maker:0x4c,Date:2017-12-4,Ver:4,Lens:Kan03,Act:Lar01,E-YThe first event on Outsell’s Caring Committee calendar took place two weeks ago with a return of the Spring Bake-Off. All told, Outsell associates pitched in $278.64 for the Animal Humane Society.

Like the chili cook-off it was inspired by, the Spring Bake-Off challenges bakers to create desserts delicious enough to win votes by way of cash. This year, Aaron Jerdee won with his extra-special Special K Bar recipe, unseating baker extraordinaire Ryan Linn for the first time in multiple years.

Aaron and fellow Caring Committee member Claire Helling both visited the Animal Humane Society in person to deliver Outsell’s contribution. We think they may have had other motives for showing up…

At the beginning of 2018, the Caring Committee posed the question to all Outsell associates: Which local and national charities mean the most to you? The 3 most popular categories were charities that assisted animals, children, and homelessness. By donating to the Animal Humane Society during their Walk for Animals drive in May, Outsell is showing its commitment to our furry family members.

Stay tuned for more news on our upcoming events.

Making Some Noise: The 2017 Craft Silent Auction was a record-breaker!

The offices of Outsell tend to get rowdy at times—but on Thursday, December 14th, associates bid silently on their favorite crafts and prizes and ended up bringing the house down to the tune of $850! With an additional $1,300 raised in cash donations, the Outsell Caring Committee ended up sending out over $2,100 to the Groveland Food Shelf. Talk about making some noise!

In just the second year of the Outsell Craft Silent Auction, associates came ready to flex the Caring value with amounts bid and items donated. In all, there were close to 50 auction items up for grabs, with most items coming handmade from Outsell associates.

The Caring Committee would like to extend a heartfelt THANK YOU to all the associates who put items together for the auction, bid generously on your favorites, and brought in additional food for the Groveland Food Shelf. Together, we made this a record-breaking Caring event in a year filled with successful outings.

Stay tuned to see what we’ll be up to in 2018, and how you can help us add to our calendar of events!


What’s the true “Fuel” of Outsell? Chili!

For the fifth time, Outsell chefs and associates came together to fill their bellies and fight to become the Outsell Chili Cook-off Champion!

While it’s unclear whether it was achieved through hard work and ingenuity, or bribery and chicanery, Rhiannon Nelson walked away with the Chili Crown in her first year of competition with her delicious Vegan Chili!

Champion Rhiannon

Congrats to Rhiannon and our chili cooks for another successful Caring Committee event. Together, your chili drew $234.50 from hungry Outsell associates, all of which went to Hurricane relief and rebuild efforts in Puerto Rico through Unidos Por Puerto Rico.

IMG_4906All that chili fuel didn’t go to waste, as just a few short hours later Outsell team members met on Floor 31 for the reanimation of Outsell Game Night! Between various video and party games, associates raised an additional $114.

That’s a total of $348.50 going to relief and recovery efforts in Puerto Rico. Good work, Outsell!

Just because the year’s coming to an end doesn’t mean the Caring Committee is done highlighting the Caring value at Outsell. If you have any ideas for fundraising, or want to get involved in the committee, be sure to reach out to any of our members.

Let’s round out 2017 as one of our most successful years to date!