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Investing in the Community

Ask anyone about what makes Rutherford County special, and whether born here or a newcomer, they will say that it is the spirit of giving. There is a richness of heart in the people here who work together to make this place a better place for all. This spirt of giving echoes through the companies, large and small, that reside in the county.

These companies all have in common an overall philosophy that giving in the community where their employees live is a good investment. It increases the quality of life. It promotes the general welfare. While many of us have seen employees from these companies at community events, or volunteering for a cause, we rarely see their actions as a whole. Here is a roundup of some of the very giving companies in our community who celebrate the spirit of Christmas all year long.


As the old jingle says, State Farm® is there like a good neighbor. While they are the largest insurance company in the United States, they make a point of reaching out to those who are in need. This fall, local State Farm® representatives presented a grant for $25,000 to Murfreesboro Cold Patrol.

The Cold Patrol seeks out the chronically homeless and tries to meet their immediate physical needs. Working with existing community resources, they move toward finding help for individuals, as well as building resources for larger community solutions.

“Murfreesboro Cold Patrol was one of 40 organization in 19 states to win one of these grants,” said Judy McConkey, State Farm® Community Affairs Specialist. “They are the only winning organization in Tennessee.”

State Farm and the State Farm Companies Foundation® focus their charitable grants on non profit initiatives that build safer, stronger and better educated communities. Their areas of interest are education, economic empowerment and community development projects, as well as programs and services that help people realize their dreams.


Bridgestone teammates demonstrate the company’s culture of being good neighbors throughout the year by giving of their time, resources, and talents to local non-profit organizations. And, through the Bridgestone Americas Trust Fund, the company is able to support charities and civic organizations throughout the United States, particularly in those markets it calls home.

Since 1952, the Trust Fund has donated over twelve million dollars to organizations with missions supporting education, the environment and conservation and youth development.

Locally, they work with numerous organizations. These include Special Kids, Tucker’s House, the Child Advocacy Center of Rutherford County, Meals on Wheels, Special Olympics, Habitat for Humanity, The Boys and Girls Club, Read to Succeed, United Way, Project One Four, The Salvation Army, MainStreet Murfreesboro, The Center for the Arts and The American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life.

“Our goal is to make a positive impact in Rutherford County and be a good corporate citizen,” says Shelley Morton, Community Relations Coordinator at the Bridgestone LaVergne plant. “We do this by improving our community through directing resources to education, health and welfare, the environment and conservation, and civic community concerns.”

Morton has two examples of how Bridgestone has affected the lives of people in the community. First is Meals on Wheels.

“We financially support the program,” said Morton, “but we also have teammates who volunteer to deliver meals weekly and have been since 2011. All the recipients know their meals are being delivered by Bridgestone every Tuesday.”

The second organization where Bridgestone has made a difference is Special Olympics of Tennessee. Since 2011, Bridgestone teammates have volunteered to distribute ribbons to Special Olympics participants at the Track and Field Day at Middle Tennessee State University. They also support the event financially.


“Our community relations program is an integral part of our overall business strategy,” said Kris Wiese, Ingram Content Group Senior Manager Public Relations and Communications. “We work with community organizations that … can match Ingram’s resources
to support local needs. We believe that by working together, we can make a difference and have a profound effect on our entire community.”

Ingram wants to impact the communities where their associates live and work. Through Ingram Gives Back, their corporate giving and community services initiative, the company regularly provides opportunities to donate either dollars, time or talent. Ingram has an annual employee giving campaign and silent auction that directly benefits the United Way, as well as their Red White & Bayou Fundraiser; they sponsor Read to Succeed’s Annual Celebrity Spelling Bee fundraiser; they support team volunteer days at Second Harvest Food Bank of Smyrna; provide food donations to the Smyrna Food Bank; and they also incorporate new volunteer opportunities annually based on their associates’ areas of interest.

“With our headquarters in LaVergne,” said Wiese, “our community impact in Rutherford County is important.”

One of the places where they have a huge impact is Tennessee Achieves, which provides higher education opportunities for Tennessee high school students. In 2018, Ingram employees filled the gap in Tennessee Promise mentors for Rutherford County.

“Over the course of the year,” said Wiese, “our volunteers helped students stay on track with the requirements and deadlines of the Tennessee Promise scholarship process. Our mentors also became trusted resources for students and their families.”

This year, they also worked with Rutherford Works, which is a collaborative effort of the Rutherford County Chamber of Commerce and local businesses to provide students with internships, business tours, camps, and other enrichment activities. For example, Stewart’s Creek in Smyrna and Blackman in Murfreesboro have adopted a supply chain curriculum, and Ingram was part of a teacher externship session to help them learn how to enrich their student’s experiences.

“Gives Back is dedicated to enriching communities where we work,” added Wiese, “and empowering associates to be educated, active citizens. With a focus on education and literacy and Arts Access, we want to increase our community impact.”


According to Lloryn Love-Carter, Corporate Communications Nissan Group of North America, Nissan’s global vision is to enrich people’s lives. The company aims to create value through attractive products and services and by contributing to sustainable social development in all the communities where its employees live and work.

“When we work with local nonprofit partners and support our employees as they participate in the life of their community,” said Love-Carter, “we’re building trust and relationships that will enrich people’s lives.”

Nissan has made a point of getting involved in the county since before the plant was opened in 1983. The company was a founding sponsor and supporter of the Business Education Partnership Foundation, which recently celebrated its 30th anniversary. The BEP Nissan Teacher Mini-Grant Program provides funding for local teachers to fund hands-on learning projects twice annually.

Smyrna Plant employees volunteer with Habitat for Humanity of Rutherford County to build a home for a local family each year. Nissan is the sole sponsor of that home build. Their employees who work in Rutherford County also serve on the boards of several local nonprofits, including Read to Succeed, Habitat for Humanity, the Discovery Center, Second Harvest Food Bank mobile pantry, and the United Way.

“During the holidays,” said Love-Carter, “our employees in Smyrna have participated in the Christmas From the Heart program for decades. In 2017, nearly 1,600 employees participated in the program, donating more than 22,000 gifts and toys to children and adults in the community. Eight local nonprofits, including two Headstart programs, coordinate the distribution of the Nissan donations to people in the community.”


Samuel Truett Cathy, the founder of Chick-fil-A, said “Nearly every moment of every day we have the opportunity to give something to someone else – our time, our love, our resources. I have always found more joy in giving when I did not expect anything in return.” That is the philosophy upon which the company was founded.

Chick-fil-A believes in getting involved in programs that help children, especially those who come from hard circumstances. That is why local franchise owner, Beau Noblitt, gives so much of his time and resources to Special Kids, Fellowship of Christian Athletes and many schools.

Their corporate giving focuses on helping non-profits that have a positive influence on youth in the communities where their stores are located by supporting innovative education, youth entrepreneurship and youth leadership. They also have many programs giving away food to kids’ programs.

According to their website, the Chick-fil-A Foundation established the True Inspiration Awards to honor Truett’s legacy. Each year, they celebrate organizations from across the country who embody his spirit of service and exist to help every child become all they were created to be.


Publix believes in giving back. They contribute monies, gift cards, sponsorships, giveaways and program ads. They support organizations that focus on youth, education, reducing hunger, and alleviating homelessness. They also make donations to schools.

Big Brothers, Big Sisters is one of the many organizations that Publix supports. They have given funding for programming, and many employees have acted as “Bigs” to area boys and girls. The program helps youth from painful situations overcome adversity and find a road to success.

Supporting local schools is also a big part of Publix investment in the community. Publix stores “adopt” schools, providing funding through various programs, including Give for Schools, which provides students with necessary school supplies that their family may not be able to afford.


“We align our philanthropy with the company’s food expertise and broader goals, and we draw upon our strengths to have the greatest impact, says David Tincher, Murfreesboro Plant Manager.

That means having an impact that enriches the lives of children and families and enhances the health and vitality of General Mills communities like Murfreesboro. Our focus areas are: Increasing Food Security, Advancing Sustainable Agriculture and Strengthening Hometown Communities.”

One of the agencies the company has supported the last two years is A Soldiers Child Foundation.

“The agency supports more than three thousand children of soldiers who were lost in combat, says Tincher.” Being close to Fort Campbell, this really hits home. They provide a child who has lost a parent in combat a support system, mentoring, camps with other children going thru the same thing, and something as simple as a birthday present every year until their 18th birthday. This year, we had the honor of meeting a young man who has been supported by this program and is now enrolling at Middle Tennessee State University.

To talk to this young man and hear what the program meant to him, and to see him thriving and going to college is something that is very rewarding. It feels good to know we are making a positive difference in our community.”

The Pillsbury plant in Murfreesboro has been the largest supporter of United Way ten out of the last fifteen years. They are also longtime supporters of the Boys and Girls Clubs, Habitat for Humanity, Discovery Center, MTSU’s STEM Outreach Program, Special Kids, Second Harvest Food Bank, Big Brothers Big Sisters, Project One Four and Murfreesboro City Schools.


Bob Parks believes in enriching the lives of children, families and the community. He believes in supporting the communities in which his staff lives and works. In 2017, Parks agents donated more than eleven thousand hours and more than one hundred and eighty-five thousand dollars to support families in Middle Tennessee.

On their website, Parks says “As individuals, teams, and offices, our agents have worked to raise funding for local Middle Tennessee nonprofits, and in doing so, have also raised awareness of the nonprofits themselves. A few of the charities that we support include the Boys & Girls Clubs, American Heart Association, Christmas for Children, Tennessee School for the Blind and various humane associations.”

In addition, their agents volunteer with area nonprofits, including Habitat for Humanity, United Way and local schools. For almost twenty-five years, Park’s signature event has been Christmas for the Children. This event offers holiday celebrations to less fortunate children in Rutherford County. Children receive gifts during an annual luncheon, which also provides them with live entertainment and a visit from Santa Claus.


The company and its employees have long been committed to supporting and improving their community through time and monetary contributions.

“As a group, Guaranty Trust’s employees volunteered more than one thousand hours of their time to support local causes that matter most to them,” said Heather Kent. “Additionally, the company has given more than forty-seven thousand dollars to causes such as United Way, Nourish Food Bank, Middle Tennessee State University and various school charities. Annually, the entire company participates in the United Way’s Annual Baby Shower.”

It’s this kind of devotion to the community that has helped Guaranty Trust earn honors from the Department of Housing and Urban Development. The company has also been awarded the designation of being one of Nashville’s top workplaces.


Helping those in the community who need help with healthcare needs is the focus of Murfreesboro Medical Clinic.

“The list is extensive,” said Joey Peay, Chief Executive Office Murfreesboro Medical Clinic, “ [including] Special Kids, St. Baldrick’s Foundation, American Red Cross – Heart of Tennessee Chapter, American Heart Association, American Cancer Society, Alzheimer’s Association, Boys March of Dimes, and many more.”

They are also involved with Middle Tennessee State University and the Boys and Girls Club. Special Kids is one of the organizations their support has had a profound effect on. They took their financial support and recast it into starting the Special Kids Race.

“It opened up many more organizations to support them while also allowing them to increase the financial support by twenty times what we had been giving them,” said Peay.

Peay and his staff feel very blessed by all that the Rutherford County community’s belief in them has provided, that they want to give back.

“Our philosophy on giving come from Genesis,” said Peay, “God blessed Abraham so that he could be a blessing. When that is transferred to our organization, our community has blessed us so we should use those blessings to bless others in the community.”


These companies, and many others in the community, are part of what keeps a touch of the holiday season alive all year by giving their time, funding and resources to many of the organizations that work to help others in need, provide enrichment programs for local youth and are building opportunities to connect with the arts.

A heartfelt thanks to all of them for their commitment to this community.

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