Newport Beach Independent: Real Estate Group Gets Crafty for Charity

(left to right) Tammy Osborn, Adoption Partner Coordinator for OC Animal Care, with shelter pup Jack Frost, Karen Weinberg, HÔM CFO, and Bob Bonanno, HÔM President with Barney. — Photo by Allison Olmstead/Townsend Olmstead Media Company

Article from the Newport Beach Independent, by Sara Hall on December 06th, 2013:

About 50 employees at a local real estate group got crafty for a cause this week, as part of the company’s Day of Giving.

Employees and real estate brokers with HÔM Sotheby’s International Realty in Newport Beach gathered in the conference room Wednesday afternoon and made 125 stuffed animals, 100 dog toys and 50 dog blankets from prefabricated kits. The items were donated to Big Brothers Big Sisters of Orange County, Orange County Animal Care and Shamrock Rescue Foundation.

The event brought together the employees, agents, their friends and families, and even their pets, said Bob Bonanno, president of the realty group.

They haven’t done this type of project before, Bonanno explained, but some people have shown interest in doing on a quarterly basis.

The event was a Make It… Count Project, an Los Angeles-based company that supplies craft projects for events that get completed by the guests and then donated to the charity of their choice, explained founder Amy Wynn Brown.

Make it Count also does journals, pillows, reusable water bottles and more. Each guest also get a charm bracelet.

The philanthropic parties are for any group that wants to give back to the community, she added.

Wednesday’s event was very successful, she added.

This is also a good way to recognize and spread awareness for the different organizations employees at HÔM are involved in, said HÔM Chief Financial Officer, Karen Weinberg, who spearheaded the project.

It’s a fun way to get everyone involved with the community, she added.

Weinberg is heavily involved with the OC animal shelter and fosters dogs in the medical program as they recover, including her current foster pup, 5-month-old dachshund-Italian greyhound mix, Barney, who she brought to Wednesday’s event. Barney was hit by a car and broke his back right leg. He needed surgery and had several pins inserted.

“A blanket or a toy can really change their lives,” while at the shelter, Weinberg said.

Mike Shapiro, chairman of HÔM, has also been involved with the medical program at the OC Animal Care after he covered medical expenses, fostered and eventually adopted a dachshund who was a part of the medical program with severe skin issues, explained Katie Ingram, community outreach supervisor for OC Animal Care.

The shelter doesn’t have the resources to care for the animals that need extra medical attention, she continued, so when sponsors like Shapiro step in, they save lives.

“We heavily rely on this type of community support to save animals,” Ingram said. “It has been great to find a group that has been so passionate about helping us meet those goals.”

This group has had a huge impact on the program, Ingram said.

“We really couldn’t do what we do without them,” Ingram said. “And it allows us to save more dogs than we ever thought were possible.”

The medical program is a “second chance” for injured animals that come into the shelter, Ingram said. The injuries range from minor cuts and abrasions that require antibiotics to broken bones, severe skin issues and major surgery.

The stuffed animals the group made on Wednesday went to the Big Brothers Big Sisters of Orange County. John Cain, a real estate agent at the company, is a board member and a big brother for the organization.

The program serves at risk kids in Orange County, Cain explained. The stuffed animals will go to kids who may not have many toys, Cain said. These toys may be their only Christmas gift, he added.

Each stuffed animal got a birth date and was named by the person who made it. The volunteer also signed a small card that will go with the toy to the receiving child.

Little things like this go a long way for the kids, he explained.

“These kids don’t have a lot, so everything they get they appreciate,” Cain said. “It really brightens their day.”