Building Trades give back this holiday season

While the holidays are a time to count our blessings, the season also serves as a reminder of those less fortunate in our communities. Luckily, there are countless ways people can give back locally, and members across Minnesota’s construction and building trades unions are first in line to give of their time, resources and expertise.

For most, philanthropy and community outreach are pillars of their unions’ value systems, with members busy holding food drives, volunteering to teach kids new skills and donating specialized services for projects around the neighborhood throughout the year.

In honor of this generous spirit, here are just a few ways local blue collar construction and building trades unions are making the world a better place this season:

The Minnesota Pipe Trades Association has donated time to its annual Heat’s On New Furnace event. Every year since 1986, when it starts getting chilly, Pipefitters Local 455, Pipefitters Local 539 and the Minnesota Mechanical Contractors Association hold the event at several locations throughout the state. Teams of volunteers clean, inspect and service hundreds of appliances for low-income elderly and disabled homeowners. Heat’s On has serviced over 6,211 homes, donated 24,893 hours of service, at an estimated value of more than $2.7 million over the last 30 years.

In Mankato, Operating Engineers Local 49 donated nearly $2,000 and collected around 100 toys for Toys for Tots, a program that has been a part of this local’s holiday tradition for four years. Local 49 in Ramsey County also hosts its annual holiday party with a fundraising component included. All proceeds benefit the St. Paul Labor Studies & Resource Center.

North Central States Regional Council of Carpenters hosted their Kids Build Workshops across 13 locations on Dec. 17. The build events are free, two-hour workshops for kids ages 5-12, giving 30 children the opportunity to make wood projects while developing skills and confidence. To get into the holiday spirit, this month’s project was constructing a picture frame – a perfect gift for the season.

IBEW Local 110 worked with St. Paul Federal Credit Union to collect Toys for Tots this season. The local pledged money toward the effort and the credit union matched each toy given with a $10 donation. Together the organizations gathered 400 toys and raised $5,500 for the cause.

Carpenters Local 361 invited the Girl Scouts of Minnesota to take over the Hermantown training center. Hosted by the local’s apprenticeship committee, 34 girls constructed step stools while learning about what apprentices do and what everyday life looks like for carpenter.

The Laborers District Council of Minnesota and North Dakota, affiliated Locals and the Laborers Training Center collect food annually during the holidays for local area food shelves.  Since 2009, the organization has collected enough food and contributions to serve 40,000 meals. The Laborers have provided meals for food shelves in the Twin Cities, Mankato, St. Cloud, Rochester, Duluth, Hibbing and Virginia, Minn.

IBEW Local 292 volunteered to set up and tear down all the electrical components at the Minneapolis Holidazzle Village, and have done so for the past three years. Through the Minneapolis Building Trades, 15 of the local’s members work with the Minneapolis Downtown Council to provide all of the electrical needs to the vendors, outdoor ice-skating rink and warming tent, donating about 340 hours of their time to the event.

Teamsters Local 120 worked in collaboration with Homes for our Troops, donating more than $23,000 toward building a home for one the team’s veterans this holiday season. Homes for Our Troops builds mortgage-free, specially adapted homes nationwide for severely injured veterans post-9/11, to enable them to rebuild their lives. Additionally, the local gave free turkeys to all who attended the December meeting, donating the remaining 72 turkeys to the Minnesota Teamsters Food Shelf for the holidays. The Teamsters take pride in providing what they can to those in need.

Heat & Frost Insulators and Allied Workers Local 34 has been involved with the “Labor of Love” holiday program since 2004. “Labor of Love” sponsors and supports the Labor Studies and Resource Center’s Emergency Fund, which provides assistance to union families facing financial crises. With help from its members, Local 34 has been able to make several donations totaling more than $4,600.

To read more about your union friends and neighbors raising the bar for us all, visit the Elevate Minnesota website.