Donor Spotlight: The Donaldson Company

09/05/2018 by Rebecca Toews

“Over the years, Donaldson Company has been one of our staunchest supporters to help us in so many different ways… it just blows me away!”

Founder Fran Heitzman would tell you that it all started with the ‘spoon story.’ At one of Bridging’s earliest galas, Fran told the story of a little girl who was shopping with her mother. When she got to the spoon section, she looked at her mother and exclaimed, “Just think Mom, now we don’t have to share spoons when we eat!” That simple story inspired then-Donaldson Company CEO Bill Cook to take action.

From pillows to blankets, to towels and more, Donaldson Company employees have heeded the call and helped Bridging greatly over the years. In addition to donation drives and volunteer efforts, they have honored Bridging by being the presenting sponsor for this year’s Gala for Bridging, the single largest annual fundraising event. A shared commitment to the community became a lasting friendship between Fran, Bill and his wife, Betsy, who is a steadfast Bridging champion, herself.

When Fran calls on Donaldson Company, they deliver.

“We are all about the donation drives!” says Frank Tsuchiya, a retired Donaldson Company Quality Assurance Manager. “Fran would come in and say, ‘We need a towel drive!’ or ‘We need spoons!’ So I remember one time everyone brought in their extra spoons!”

Tsuchiya now volunteers at Bridging each week.

“I sit up front in the office at Bridging and when clients come in, I am just so moved by just how happy people are. They come in and they’re just so excited to get the items.”

But it’s not just the drives that Donaldson actively participates in. They’ve spearheaded company bake sales, BINGO events, and even a “Pinewood Derby” competition for employees. To top it all off, each year, Andrew Dahlgren, General Manager of the Gas Turbine Systems Business Unit organizes dozens of teams to slide down Buck Hill for the annual Bedrace for Bridging. When asked why he thinks Donaldson Company has been such an important Bridging champion, Fran does not hesitate to answer.

“I just think people need a way to channel their time, talent and treasure and this is an avenue where they can do that! I always tell my friends, ‘I’m going to give you the avenue to do something with your money because you can’t take it with you!’ No matter what your name is or who you are how much money you make– in the end you come in with nothing and go out with nothing. And I keep saying—I don’t have any money but I’m a rich man!”

“It’s that part of me that says I want to give back somehow,” says Tsuchiya. “And that’s the way I do it!”

Bill Cook recently passed the baton of community service to his successor, Tod Carpenter, who now sits as CEO of Donaldson Company. He and his wife, Bonnie have been named honorary chairs for the Gala for Bridging, in addition to Donaldson Company’s presenting sponsorship.

 “I will always be eternally grateful for all Donaldson has done for me and for Bridging. I hope that relationship never sours and we continue to be there for each other.”

Do you want to be part of the Gala for Bridging magic? Would you like to see more of the Lives We Touch, and help Bridging to continue to FURNISH HOMES WITH HOPE? Please join us! Learn more about how to share your own time, talent and treasure with a cause that makes our Twin Cities community stronger every day.

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