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Giving back to those ‘First in Our Hearts’

June 18, 2012

The First In Our Hearts FoundationProviding food or a safe haven for children, building homes for those in need, collecting food for the hungry and sending care packages to our troops are just some of the charitable causes that First Team agents have embraced since 2005.

“Many of our agents are leaders in their communities, dedicating time and energy to helping people in need,” said Cameron Merage, CEO and Founder of First Team. “Giving back to the communities in which our agents live, work and play is ingrained in the First Team culture.”

Cameron is also the founder of the First In Our Hearts Foundation, the in-house charity whereby First Team agents and employees can donate funds and volunteer their time to charitable causes and organizations in the Southland.

John Schulte, manager of the First Team Corona office, says that for the second year in a row, the office has selected Project Kids as its charity of choice.

“Project Kids is an important charitable foundation in Corona that provides a crisis center for use by law enforcement for children from families in distress,” John said. “The facility is located in Corona and provides a ‘safe haven’ or a ‘neutral corner’ for kids. It houses a fully-equipped medical center and provides psychiatric counseling if needed.”  Agents and staff at the Corona office have already raised several thousand dollars this year for the charity through bake sales and a bingo night. A barbecue and rummage sale are also planned.

Agent Geri Sexton is the charity coordinator for the First Team Anaheim Hills office, and she notes that the office has a long-standing tradition of giving back, including participating in ‘We’ve Got Your Back’, a project of the Giving Children Hope charity based in Fullerton. On Friday afternoons, donated food fills the backpacks of children who live in motels.

“Many kids who live in motels don’t get to eat over the weekend when school is closed,” Geri said. “If ‘We’ve Got Your Back’ didn’t give these children food, many would go hungry over the weekend.”  The office has also participated in filling 80 care packages for troops as part of the 1,000 boxes organized by a chaplain with the Pendleton Marine Base through the Sunrise Rotary organization. Previously, First Team agents have collected gifts for the Military Children’s Charity, which arranges parties at Camp Pendleton and Los Alamitos Army Airfield for children of military families, and they have collected backpacks to give to kids of deployed military.

First Team Fullerton office

The First Team Fullerton office held an extensive food drive last November for those families without a Thanksgiving meal.

Associates at the First Team Fullerton office also have an extensive history of charitable activity. According to Branch Manager Greg Carrescia, not only did the First In Our Hearts Foundation donate $50,000 to Habitat for Humanity, but many agents also donated their weekend hours to help build a Habitat house on Valencia Avenue in Fullerton. The office is a stalwart supporter of the Boys & Girls Club of Fullerton, and they are also noted for their support of the Red Cross Bloodmobile, making their office one of the most successful donation centers in recent years. In addition, every Thanksgiving and Christmas, agents collect canned food for distribution by the Salvation Army and the Fullerton Interfaith Emergency Services.

“Given the economic situation today, it’s even more important for us to be ready to help those in need in our communities,” Cameron said. “It’s our sincere desire to do whatever we can to fill some of that need in whatever way we can.”

Cameron attributes most of the Foundation’s success to the personal passions of company individuals.

“Many of the causes are particularly near and dear to the hearts of First Team agents and employees, and their suggestions and recommendations are always given special consideration,” he said. “The First In Our Hearts Foundation is proud to continue our long-standing tradition of giving back to the local communities where we live and work.”

For more information or to nominate a charity for The First In Our Hearts Foundation, visit www.FirstInOurHearts.org or send an email to FirstInOurHearts@FirstTeam.com. You can also connect with the Foundation on Facebook and Twitter.

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