What started as a business partnership has developed into a mission to collectively impact people in need. In 2020, Lonnie Bickford launched Storage Gives, a sister organization to his online storage auction website, StorageAuctions.com. StorageGives.org presents an opportunity for businesses to make a positive impact on those who need help both in the U.S. and around the globe.
Bickford has said regarding Storage Gives, “We are facilitating a platform to connect the storage industry to worthy causes to make an impact in lives all over the world.”
Through StorageGives.org, self-storage owners and operators are able to donate a percentage of their online auction proceeds to charities that have been vetted by Bickford and his team. Charities like Shriner’s hospital, Homes for our Troops, and Autism Speaks.
A Caring Campaign
“He had me at Autism Speaks,” says Jennifer Barnett, COO at Absolute Storage Management (ASM), a third-party self-storage management company based out of Cordova, Tenn. Barnett’s nine-year-old son, Elijah, was diagnosed with autism at age three. She explained that he was non-verbal, lacked coordination skills, and had sensory and other social-emotional issues at an early age. “I will never forget receiving a phone call from his preschool teacher, telling me that she had some serious concerns that he may be on the spectrum. A part of me was terrified, while the other part was so thankful that we had a diagnosis so early and could get him the services that he needed.”
ASM had already begun a partnership with StorageAuctions.com for its online auctions, so when Donna Morgan-Esquibel, sales manager at StorageAuctions.com, casually mentioned the upcoming launch of Storage Gives, Barnett jumped at the chance to be the company’s very first partner.
“ASM was looking for unique ways to show our team, our owners, and our community that ‘We Care’ in the midst of COVID-19. Partnering with Storage Gives was the perfect way to launch our ‘We Care’ campaign,” says Barnett.
Beginning in April 2021, ASM began designating five percent of their auction proceeds to Autism Speaks. But for Barnett, that wasn’t enough. “I was doing this for Elijah,” she says. “And I owed it to him, and to Lonnie and his team, to give this my best effort.” Barnett made a few phone calls and was able to connect with Kimberly Dick, area executive director for Autism Speaks. “Kimberly has been an amazing and gracious resource for ASM throughout this entire journey.”
Barnett and Dick began co-hosting monthly lunch-and-learns for all ASM team members. During those sessions, Dick would share information about what autism is, what resources Autism Speaks offers, and how to interact with those on the autism spectrum. Monthly infographics were also sent out to the team with more “Did You Know” information about autism, like the fact that one in 54 children are on the autism spectrum. Autism Speaks posters and point-of-sale items were shipped to all 135 locations managed by ASM. Lastly, ASM organized a virtual walk, which was held on Sept. 25, 2021, as a fundraiser. The goal was for all walkers to walk 1.54 miles in honor of the one in 54 children on the spectrum.
“We are excited to announce that to date we have raised nearly $10,000 for Autism Speaks,” Barnett says, “and we are just getting started!” The company recently designed fundraising T-shirts with the names of team members’ loved ones on the spectrum, and their fundraising page will remain open until the end of the year (http://act.autismspeaks.org/got/ASM).
“We’re grateful for Absolute Storage Management’s commitment to the Storage Gives initiative which benefits Autism Speaks,” says Dick. “Through their support, Absolute Storage Management not only raises funds to fuel the mission of Autism Speaks but also encourages understanding and acceptance with their workplace and throughout local communities.” Autism Speaks not only works to create a kinder, more inclusive world for people with autism, but it also provides resources like its Autism Response Team (ART), and information line for the autism community. For more information on Autism Speaks, visit autismspeaks.org.
Barnett ended by saying, “This partnership has been a blessing in disguise. To have been asked to participate in something like this, that not only educates our team members but supports charities that directly impact our loved ones, has been an inspiration to ASM during a really hard couple of years. I would encourage anyone in the industry to consider partnering with Storage Gives.”
Each charity with Storage Gives has been hand-picked and selected by Bickford and his team through firsthand encounters with each charity. “I’ve seen the work charity can do first-hand,” Bickford explained. “Every charity we’ve selected to work with through Storage Gives either plays a direct part in our employees’ lives or is something I’ve helped with throughout my life.”
Storage Gives has not only inspired ASM through Autism Speaks, but the funds gathered this year alone have gone on to fund 250,000 meals through Storage Gives partner charity, Mission Feeding, a charity Bickford has worked with previously through mission work.
Rightfully so, Storage Gives is making waves across the entire storage industry. John Traver with XPS Solutions says, “For us, what stands out about Storage Gives is the quality of impact these charities have on the causes which they support. Storage Gives supports multiple charities, including Autism Speaks, Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Organization, Homes for Our Troops (customized housing for our severely injured post 9/11 troops), and the Mission Feeding and Water for Life charities serving in the Sub-Saharan areas of Africa. One of the core traits of our industry is the unified mission of service—to give back and help others. So, it is our privilege to have the opportunity to give back in the name of our clients from across the U.S. to these charities. It’s truly our pleasure to partner with Storage Gives.”
For more information about Storage Gives, visit StorageGives.org or contact Donna Morgan-Esquibel at firstname.lastname@example.org.