• Go-to Snack Is Also Favorite Donation

    Popcorn is a long-standing and popular tradition in our waiting rooms at Les Schwab Tire Centers, but more and more it’s becoming a recognizable element of our community involvement, too.

    In Monroe, Wash., popcorn is the weekly treat at the Friday afternoon Popcorn Social at Chain Lake Elementary School thanks to the nearby Les Schwab store. The P.T.A. had previously been forced to charge students for the snack. Even at less than a dollar a bag, the cost was out of reach for some kids, so for the last three years the crew has sponsored the event with 15 cases of popcorn, making it free for everybody. The Monroe store also supplies popcorn for the town’s National Night Out Against Crime, when citizens get together for an evening of community building with the Monroe Rotary Club and police and fire departments.

    The Kaysville, Utah, store is similarly involved in providing popcorn for worthwhile community events. The Les Schwab there supports the Davis County Sheriff’s office when the officers host programs for local kids. Every month, officers invite underprivileged young people to their Drug Abuse Resistance Education program, better known by its acronym, D.A.R.E. And at Halloween, they host an event called “Trunk or Treat” where classic cars line the parking lot and children wear their costumes to trick-or-treat in a safe environment. Popcorn supplied by Les Schwab powers the kids through both events.

    Les Schwab donations of popcorn and related supplies allow high school students a chance to practice valuable job skills and raise money for their activities. The Riverdale, Utah, store, for example, donates the popcorn maker, bags and popcorn to nearby Bonneville High School for the football and basketball seasons. Students who run the concession booth sell bottles of water and bags of popcorn for $1 each and get to keep the proceeds to spend on activities. For the past two years in southwest Washington, 10 stores have partnered to sponsor 22 local high schools with popcorn, oil and seasonings for lunchtime and game day booths. (The concessions are so popular that the schools have bought their own machines.) Feedback from the athletic directors is overwhelmingly positive.

    This kind of sponsorship gives the students a chance to practice the kind of life skills we know will stand them in good stead: hard work, responsibility and community involvement.

    At a city council meeting last March, Mayor Leonard Kelley of Stanwood, Wash., recognized the local Les Schwab for outstanding community service. He noted the company sponsors numerous community events, but he singled out as his favorite a story about the team donating its popcorn machine for the town’s summer Movies in the Park series.

    “Moms with kids who weren’t customers — were coming in [to Les Schwab] to thank them for the popcorn,” Kelley said.

    Kids enjoying popcorn at a Les Schwab Tire Center.

    So popcorn is more than our signature snack: It’s one of the many ways we do more than take care of tires, brakes and alignment. We are members of the community who see a need and step up to meet it.

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  • Grit and Focus Power Jesuit Defensive End

    Being a high school athlete isn’t always easy. Juggling practice and games, schoolwork, family, friends and everything else takes focus; Jesuit High School senior defensive end David Bridges was more than up for the challenge this year.

    Seniors Help Deliver Victory

    Including David, Jesuit High School in Beaverton, Oregon had 37 seniors on the football team roster, each of whom was determined not to repeat last year’s 42-41 loss to Tigard High School in the Oregon School Activities Association Class 6A football championship quarterfinals. Training hard in the summer and during the season, on the field and in the weight room, helped the Jesuit Crusaders win the sixth state football championship in the school’s history.

    Balancing School, Sports and Family

    On top of three AP classes, varsity sports and making plenty of time for his family, David has worked hard to make sure everything in his life gets the attention it deserves. When asked how he juggles it all, he said, “I wouldn’t say I have a secret, but I try to manage my time as much as I can. I definitely don’t get the recommended amount of sleep every night. I guess my secret is that whatever I am doing, I give my full attention to it. If I’m at football, I’m not trying to think about my homework or my test tomorrow. If I’m doing homework, I’m not checking Instagram or watching TV.”

    That ability to focus served David and the rest of his team well all season: They entered the championship game against third seed West Linn with an undefeated 14-0 record. Nevertheless, late in the fourth quarter they were trailing 14-13. But a 2-yard touchdown with 1:13 left put them over the top, 21-14.

    Victory is always sweet, but doubly so when it’s hard earned. David and the Crusaders did their school proud.

    Les Schwab Tire Centers is a proud sponsor of the Oregon School Activities Association.

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  • Hard Work and Teamwork, on the Field and Off

    Felix Songolo, sophomore captain of the varsity boys’ soccer team at De La Salle North Catholic High School (shown here sporting his Knights jersey), has been playing soccer since he was five. The game runs in his family: His father, mother, older brother, younger twin brothers, and even his youngest brother, now five years old himself, all play. Felix says his first memory from childhood is of watching his older brother play soccer when their family still lived in Africa.

    Felix and his family moved to the U.S. in 2005, fleeing conflict in their home country of Zambia. Throughout his time in a refugee camp and afterward in adjusting to life in America, Felix found a sense of community in playing soccer. Now, after overcoming difficult times, he refuses to let anything stand in his way. Even with a busy practice schedule, he plans to maintain his 4.0 GPA, graduate as the class valedictorian and go on to play college soccer.

    “My parents sacrificed to move to America, and because of that, I don’t take the opportunity to get an education and play soccer for granted,” said Felix. “If my desire for success is greater than my fear of failure, then I will succeed.”

    Felix credits soccer with helping him deal with challenges because it’s a team sport.

    “I started school in the first grade, and it was tough because I did not have many friends other than my family,” Felix said. “Playing soccer during recess gave me a voice with the other kids and helped me create friendships and a deeper love for the game.”

    As an intern at Oregon Health & Science University through the Corporate Work Study Program, Felix also gains experience, friendships and preparation for his dream of becoming a neurologist. He credits his parents as the force that helps him perform to the best of his abilities, as he says, “continuing to push me through thick and thin, placing their lives on hold for me and my siblings.”

    We admire Felix for his hard work and teamwork, two values we can get behind.

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  • Helping Build Bikes for Tikes

    Working with Pasco, Washington’s Local Union 598, its members, and other community leaders, Les Schwab store managers in Tri-Cities, Walla Walla, and Oregon’s Umatilla County were proud to be a part of Bikes for Tikes again this year. We were among the 400 volunteers who helped build and deliver nearly 2,000 bicycles for kids throughout the region.

    “The crews building all those bikes worked so hard,” stated Casey Fewkes, Les Schwab Store Manager in Yakima. “We enjoyed pumping up all those tires and being part of the comradery and giving spirit.”

    It took less than four hours for the army of volunteers to uncrate and assemble the bikes and unpack the helmets, which were then delivered by Marines Toys for Tots.

    Les Schwab manager working at the bicycle assembly tables.

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  • Hockey Fans Toss 11,000 Teddy Bears for Charity

    The ice at Portland’s Memorial Coliseum was quickly covered by 11,000 teddy bears just after the first goal during the Winterhawks match on December 1, 2018. Every stuffed animal was carefully collected, driven off the ice, and donated to local charitable organizations to be distributed to kids throughout the region. Partnering with the Winterhawks to celebrate and collect the bears for this 20-year-long tradition is a thrill for everyone involved.

    As one of the pioneers of the Teddy Bear Toss, the Winterhawks organization deserves a lot of credit for making this a popular event at hockey arenas around the country. Congratulations to the Winterhawks for another successful Teddy Bear Toss and their 8-2 win that night.

    Difference in distance traveled between two tire sizes
    Les Schwab and volunteers collect teddy bears off the ice and load them into Les Schwab trucks for departure to their new homes.

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  • Workshops at World of Speed Let Women Practice Car Care Hands-on

    A lot of women customers have told Les Schwab Tire Centers they want to learn more about how to take care of their cars, so we offered three basic car care workshops for women this spring. We teamed up with World of Speed, an educational and interactive motorsports museum in Wilsonville, Ore., to host these events. The sessions were hosted by Les Schwab managers: Joe Rector, Jerry Lee, Kevin Leasure, Dorian Moore, Howard Magden, Gary Wanderscheid and Cam Durrell.

    The World of Speed features historic racecars, boats and motorcycles that tell the story of motorsports culture. Through interactive exhibits and hands-on activities, it offers visitors a behind-the-scenes view of the racing world; including drag racing, road racing, land speed racing, motorcycle racing, open wheel, NASCAR and hydroplanes.

    The museum hosted an educational clinic for women to practice basic car care skills — some for the first time — and get answers to their questions. Even though the workshops were geared toward women, some participants also brought along the men in their lives.

    Dorian Moore and Kevin Leasure demonstrate how to change a spare tire

    At the session hosted by Dorian Moore and Kevin Leasure, a store vehicle served as the women’s guinea pig. Kevin and Dorian demonstrated how to change a spare tire and then had their students practice raising and lowering the car with the jack from the trunk. When it came time to remove the lug nuts with the lug wrench, Kevin and Dorian were invaluable references on how to get the easiest mechanical advantage out of the equipment.

    The managers reassured the attendees of one crucial point: That if their tire went flat in an isolated area where there was no phone service, it is OK to “just drive on it.” As Kevin pointed out, “We can replace the tire or the rim, but not you!”

    A total of 36 students attended the workshops. The participants came away with greater confidence and knowledge, as well as a complimentary tire pressure gauge and a penny to measure tread depth.

    “We’ve had great feedback, so far, from the workshops,” said Lewis Ferguson, World of Speed’s director of education. “Not only is World of Speed proud to offer this program with Les Schwab, we’ve heard from participants that the class is very informative and they benefit from the hands-on demonstrations.”

    World of Speed and Les Schwab Tire Centers plans to host a father-daughter car care course as another way to teach car care basics in a casual, comfortable environment.

    Cam Durrell and Howard Magden explain tire pressure monitoring system lights
    Cam Durrell and Howard Magden demonstrate and illustrate the warning light students should be aware of in modern cars’ tire pressure monitoring system.

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  • Longmont Kiwanis Carves Toy Cars, Connections with Local Youth

    Members of the Kiwanis Club in Longmont, Colo., teach young budding craftsmen, most typically elementary school children, how to design, cut, whittle and refine woodblocks into toy cars that are then donated to local hospitalized and underserved children in the community. The project provided the novice woodcarvers with the chance to learn the old-time craft and foster new connections in the community. Outside of woodworking, other ongoing projects throughout the year include collecting shoes and books for kids in need, Salvation Army bell ringing during the holidays and other various fundraising activities.

    The Kiwanis International footprint wraps around the globe, with thousands of Kiwanis clubs striving to serve the needs of children in every community through service projects and fundraising. Its work is rooted in local community action. Each year, the organization raises more than $100 million to support various projects at the community level. By empowering local members, the Kiwanis clubs are able to sponsor roughly 150,000 service projects — amounting to about 18.5 million service hours — each year.

    At Les Schwab Tire Centers, we’re proud to support the important work undertaken by the Longmont Kiwanis Club and Kiwanis International. Our core values inspire us to serve as active and contributing members of those communities where we operate, and we view Kiwanis as a valuable partner in that mission, in Longmont and beyond.

    To learn more, or to get involved as a volunteer, check out the Kiwanis International website or like the Longmont Club’s page on Facebook.

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  • Fixing a Vandalized 4-H Clubhouse

    By Jennifer Meeker

    Last April, as Kitsap County 4-H leaders went to open their clubhouse for the upcoming fair, they found the offices in complete disarray. The 4-H clubhouse had been broken into and vandalized beyond recognition. Even the refrigerators and microwaves had been destroyed. Because the clubhouse was used every year by 4-H participants, something had to be done quickly.

    The Poulsbo Les Schwab store manager Brett Clark heard about the vandalism and got together with other store managers across Kitsap County to make things right.

    “It was so unnecessary and so completely undeserving for these great kids to have to deal with,” Clark said of the situation. “It took no time to understand what needed to be done. Within minutes we had developed a solution for them.”

    Les Schwab is proud to sponsor 4-H in any way possible. It was an honor to provide new refrigerators, microwaves, and cleaning in time for the local fair.

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  • Youth Ag Leader Grows Career With FFA Role

    As a third generation Future Farmers of America (FFA) member, Lauren Millang brought a family legacy to her role as vice president of the FFA’s California chapter. “I can recall my grandpa telling me about the different contests he competed in during high school and hearing about my parent’s fair animals,” she said. “I’m proud to be part of an organization that is rooted in tradition.”

    Lauren spent a year traveling throughout California facilitating FFA workshops, hosting conferences and learning about the agriculture industry. Over the four years that Lauren was involved with FFA, she found the experience invaluable in developing her agricultural knowledge and her leadership skills.

    “I was blessed with opportunities to attend leadership conferences, compete on numerous teams, hold officer positions and even raise animals for our county fair,” she said. “I know these valuable moments spent in FFA have prepared me for a future career in agriculture and have provided me with the tools and experiences I need to become a successful advocate for the industry.”

    Some of Lauren’s most memorable FFA experiences include the Washington Leadership Conference in Washington D.C., as well as competing at the American Quarter Horse Youth Association World Show in Oklahoma and the FFA Nationals in Kentucky.

    Lauren MillangLauren says the FFA offers a place for just about everyone who’s interested in agriculture. “From computer sciences, to raising livestock, crop sciences or speaking contests, students can truly find their niche and excel,” she said. “FFA is a unique organization that truly gives students a hands-on experience.”

    With her move into the VP role, Lauren graduated from a corduroy members jacket that said “Woodland-Pioneer” across the back to a one that says, “Association.” “With this new jacket comes new opportunities, friendships, places and growth,” she said. “Only one word comes to mind when I think of the journey ahead: gratitude.”

    Following her year as California FFA state vice president, Lauren is attending Oklahoma State University to pursue a double major in agricultural communications and business. “I am proud to be involved in an organization that creates the future leaders of the agriculture industry,” she said. “And I am proud to be a future agriculturalist.”

    At Les Schwab, we’re honored to support Lauren's hard work, dedication and leadership both in California’s agriculture industry and its local communities.

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  • Former Foster Child Pays it Forward with Luggage Project

    To Mike, the founder of Mikey’s Luggage, every child deserves dignity, regardless of her or his situation. As someone who grew up in foster care, Mike said he always struggled with moving from home to home with his belongings — indeed, his entire life’s possessions — clumsily stuffed into a couple of trash bags.

    “When other schoolmates see that there’s a car with a county official stamp on it and back seat full of trash bags or boxes full of stuff, your peers know what’s going on, and they figure out real quick that you’re a foster child,” Mike said.

    That was one of the most difficult experiences for Mike as a foster child. When he finally landed with the foster family that eventually adopted him, he promised to help other foster kids survive the transitional period. In 2013, he made good on his promise and started Mikey’s Luggage, which helps to replace the garbage bags with brand new luggage that foster children can call their own. Garbage bags are meant for garbage, not for one’s most-prized possessions.

    “If I could grant one wish for foster kids today, it would probably be to give them some dignity, and I think the first place we can start is through luggage,” Mike said. “I think the dignity comes from the normalcy of suitcases, something that is traditionally used by everybody else.”

    Mikey’s Luggage works with Koinonia Family Services, who helps foster children in California and Nevada, to ensure that every suitcase donated goes directly to a foster child. Les Schwab Tire Centers is proud to support Mike’s cause by designating its Sacramento-area locations as drop-off centers for area donations.

    Mike knows the little things can make a big difference for children living in foster care, and the way they collect and move their material lives matters.

    “That’s kind of my rock, you can’t touch it,” he said, reflecting on the importance of his own bag as a child. “It’s the one thing you can’t take from me. That’s why I started Mikey’s Luggage.”

    To contribute a new suitcase or duffle bag to a foster child, simply swing by one of the Sacramento-area Les Schwab stores and let the on-duty manager know it’s for Mikey’s Luggage.

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  • Les Schwab Employee Runs 100-Mile Ultra Marathon

    On June 8, 2019, TJ Burleson lined up for a marathon that would test his physical as well as mental stamina. For years, TJ has been training for the Lumberjack Ultra Marathon, a 100-mile run to benefit Uganda Ultra Impact.

    Uganda Ultra Impact is part of Children of the Father’s House, a small charity that helps ensure children in the Uganda region have a home, food, and basic essentials as well as education.

    TJ and his fellow employees helped raise money for the organization through per-mile and set-amount donations of his racing efforts. TJ was able to finish the 100-mile marathon with a smile on his face.

    Congratulations, TJ. We’re proud to have you on the Les Schwab team.

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  • Les Schwab Invitational: 20 years of Great Basketball

    In December, the Les Schwab Invitational basketball tournament celebrated its 20th anniversary. According to a USA Today ranking based on talent level and attendance, the LSI is the No. 2 basketball tournament in the United States. John McCallum, president of Prime Time Sports, the tournament’s organizer, has been the director of the event since its inception and is one of its biggest champions.

    “For a tournament to last that long and keep getting stronger says a lot about the Oregon fans who come out and appreciate grassroots basketball,” said McCallum.

    Two legendary high school coaches, Barry Adams and Nick Robertson, began dreaming of what became the LSI in the 1990s. At that time, many of Oregon’s best high school boys’ basketball teams were already traveling out of state to play in preseason holiday tournaments. Although the players got to pit themselves against other high-caliber teams, most fans couldn’t travel to root for them.

    In 1996, with approval from the Oregon School Activities Association and financial assistance from local sponsors, the Oregon Holiday Invitational was born. In 2000, the tournament was renamed to recognize Les Schwab Tire Centers’ continued support.

    “Les Schwab has been a tremendous partner and was the perfect fit for lead sponsorship, given the company’s OSAA partnership, commitment to high school sports and dedication to making Oregon communities stronger,” McCallum said.

    The LSI benefits schools and students beyond the teams competing because they receive free tournament passes worth $70. The kids can sell the passes and use the money to pay for athletic gear. In addition, clubs such as band and choir at Liberty High School, the home venue, run all concessions for the event and keep the money they earn.

    For the 20th anniversary, the concourse at Liberty was full of photos of the players, some of whom have become NBA all-stars. Not surprisingly, McCallum’s favorite memories from his 20 years as director includes two of them: Kevin Love, who played for the Lake Oswego Lakers (and plays for the Cleveland Cavaliers); and Kyle Singler, who played for the South Medford Panthers (and plays for the Oklahoma City Thunder).

    The two rivals and their teams met during the LSI on Dec. 29, 2006, in a rematch of their 2006 Oregon State Championship final. The defending state champion Lake Oswego Lakers battled the South Medford Panthers in front of the biggest crowd ever assembled at Liberty High School, a game televised by ESPN. The Panthers evened the score with the Lakers with their 71-63 victory.

    The next day, in the final match against No. 1 Oak Hill Academy from Virginia, Kyle Singler brought a raucous crowd to its feet when he spun baseline on his defender and nailed a ferocious dunk to bring the game within 7 points, with 30 seconds remaining in the fourth quarter. Though Oak Hill prevailed in the end, the match showed the LSI at its finest: Oregon high school basketball players putting themselves on the line against the best teams in the country and Oregon supporters behind them all the way.

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