The holidays seemed to come early this year. Decorations, sales and festive music popped up long before Thanksgiving dinner was even set on the table. As we approach one of the biggest seasons of the year for philanthropy and corporate giving, I can’t help but feel lucky at Stewart, with its strong charitable philosophy engrained into the company’s DNA.
Stewart’s Community of Sharing® program gives aid to communities and causes that support homeownership and build a community of giving back among Stewart associates, offices and our independent network of agencies across the United States.
Recently, I was honored to take part in Stewart’s charitable partnership with “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition®” (EM:HE) and helpingahero.org to build a custom home for wounded veteran Staff Sgt. Shilo Harris. A third generation Army veteran, Sgt. Harris was severely wounded in Iraq when an explosive device hit his truck and burned more than 40 percent of his body.
Through Stewart’s Community of Sharing program, more than 1,900 of our independent agency associates raised more than $42,000 to make homeownership possible for Staff Sgt. Harris in the weeks leading up to the home build. These funds were combined with an additional $1.1 million raised in partnership with EM:HE and Helping A Hero to pay off the mortgage on the Harris family’s new dream home and support 10 additional homebuilding projects to be undertaken by helpingahero.org. Stewart Title was also able to coordinate a mortgage payoff and clear title for the Harris’ previous home.
Once the funds were raised, Ty Pennington and the EM:HE team built the Harris family a home featuring an air filtration and conditioning system, which will help ease his health challenges due to Sgt. Harris’ extensive burns.
At the end of the week, I was able to present a check to a true hero on behalf of Stewart Title. As a Gold Star Dad, nothing could’ve meant more to me than to help give a new start to someone who had given so much for his country. I am so proud of him, proud to be part of this community effort and proud to work for a company that affords such significant opportunities to give back like this.
So if you’re already suffering from holiday overload, you may want to watch this episode. It airs on Monday, Dec. 10 on ABC at 8 p.m. EST. Please note this date change from the original scheduled episode. The episode is now airing on Monday, December 10. I’ll definitely be tuning in. For me, it’s a potent, heartfelt reminder of what this season is all about.
Whatever your holiday celebration, may it be bright and filled with many opportunities to give.