Craig Hockenberry: The Ultimate Partnership, Adopt-A-Class
A call from Bill Burwinkel to discuss a holiday partnership with his company ended up impacting the lives of thousands of children in Cincinnati.
It was a fall afternoon and the school day had just ended at Oyler. I got a call from Bill Burwinkel who was a longtime supporter of Oyler and a good friend. He was interested in starting a program that included adopting a class for the holidays, however it was much different than your ordinary Christmas party.
His idea included reading, writing, building relationships, mentors, expanding parterships with schools and companies, and yes a huge Christmas party at school during the last week before winter break. I remember the official first class back in 2004 was a sixth grade class on the third floor at Oyler School. When I walked into the room to say thank you to National Marketshare I was completely overwhelmed by the incredible giving spirit.
The volunteers were opening gifts with kids, eating pizza, and having conversations with some happy children. It looked like a Christmas morning in an affluent home somewhere in the suburbs. For many of the kids this was their only Christmas and one of their only chances to see professionals and build relationships with people outside of their community.
Following the first Adopt-A-Class Bill and I met several times to talk about expansion. He got more people to buy into the philosophy of a yearlong partnership that included a timeline of events, programs, letter writing, field trips and much more. He then spoke to companies close to Oyler or companies who already had a partnerships such as Kemba Credit, the Consult Inc., Consolidated Metal, Postal Employees Credit Union, Paycor, Jackson & Lewis, and many more. Then the following Christmas we added several new classrooms and eventually the entire school Preschool thru eighth grade were adopted. These partnerships turned into much more. They included Reds games, field trips, spring letter writing, tours of their companies, job shadowing, and of course they culminated with Christmas party in December.
Although Oyler School is the iconic ground zero for Adopt-A-Class after those early days Mr. Burwinkel expanded the program into more than 30 schools and over 300 business throughout the region severing over 6,000 kids. This program has left an amazing impact on these children.
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