Industry embraces its golden purpose

Golden Hammer Purpose awards honor community service and the greater good.

It’s not a secret. Hardware stores, home centers and building supply dealers perform an oversized role in supporting their communities. They build them, they repair them, they’re the go-to place for emergency supplies. Even when their own homes are threatened by stormy weather, this industry’s helpful employees are in the aisles or in the yard, moving product.

And that’s just the beginning. The tradition of service extends well beyond the store to charities, hospitals, community centers, children, the hungry, the needy and a myriad of community projects that bring people together for the greater good.

HBSDealer recently asked readers to share their stories of community involvement, and the results were golden. Here are some highlights.


Carr Hardware’s Thanksgiving dinner volunteers.

Carr Hardware

When Carr Hardware of Pittsfield, Mass., won the 2017 Indie Award – the National Independent Small Business of the Year—the prize money went straight back into the community.

“It wasn't even a second thought on how to spend the $5,000,” said Bart Raser, owner. “It was donated right away to the children's park in our hometown of Pittsfield.”

Carr Hardware partners with various local non-profits every year. Recently, operating under the cloud of the pandemic, Carr pulled out all the stops to help with donations, can drives, round up programs and more. the Berkshire Humane Society, Avon Gifts of Love and even the Enfield Dog park. Also, a special fundraising effort provided $8,500 in PPE needs for children returning to school.

“You can't think about Carr without thinking about our involvement in the community,” Raser said. “Our communities are the most important thing to us and we are deeply engrained.”

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Anderson Lumber Company

Anderson Lumber Company

Anderson Lumber Company has supported their community since 1925. When tragedy struck owners Steve and Landon Coleman in 2011, they launched Tailgating Against Cancer – a nonprofit dedicated to raising funds for the Stephen Y. Coleman Medical Oncology Fellowship at the University of Tennessee Medical Center. Their tight-knit community has been all in with their support since day one.

Steve’s son and Landon’s brother, Stephen, lost his courageous battle to brain cancer in 2011 at the age of 37. As Stephen received treatments, the Colemans learned the demand for cancer care is expected to grow significantly and there will be a shortage of more than 2,200 oncologists nationwide by 2025. The Coleman family was determined to secure funds each year to ensure all Tennesseans have a dedicated, talented oncologist within a reasonable driving distance. That’s when Tailgating Against Cancer was born.

Tailgating Against Cancer hosts a golf tournament each spring to reach an annual fundraising goal for the oncology fellowship, and $685,000 has been raised since inception. Money raised is also helping progress cancer research and the families of cancer patients with unexpected expenses, such as lost time from work and travel. Over the last 11 years, Tailgating Against Cancer has found creative ways to raise funds for this cause near and dear to the Colemans. They’ve partnered with other local businesses to host fundraisers, set a Guinness World Record in 2018 for “the largest gathering of people wearing mismatched socks,” and launched an AmazonSmile shopping link.

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K&B True Value Hardware of Annapolis, Md.

K&B True Value

K&B True Value conducts an annual Cash for Schools program that donates a significant amount of money to Annapolis-area schools. Total matching funds in 2022 increased to $18,500 with new co-sponsors, and the total distribution in November 2022 was $30,417. (Photo credit: Focus by Kenneth.) In the past two years, K&B’s Point of Sale fundraising campaign has helped raise more than $30,000 for local schools and more than $125,530 over the course of the program since 2009. These funds have no strings attached, so schools can use them as the school sees fit.

The Cash for Schools program operates as follows: K&B asks its customers to donate to one of 17 Annapolis-area schools from late August through October each year. K&B also organizes all co-sponsor participation. Donations can only be made in person at K&B True Value or online from their website. In early November, K&B True Value gathered all the participant school representatives and co-sponsors to personally deliver award checks to each participating school in the amount of the customer donations, plus a 100% matching donation.

In the past, schools have used these funds for programs such as buying e-books (Georgetown East Elementary); planning a school-wide PBIS (Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports) event (Eastport Elementary); and supporting a food pantry for students (Annapolis High School). The use is up to each school based on their priorities. Through its Cash for Schools program, K&B True Value continues its tradition of giving back to the community.

This independent and family-owned business has been employing, supporting, and serving locals and their organizations since 1974 and is proud to be a part of the Annapolis community.

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Kabat's Ace
Kabat’s Ace Hardware in Arizona.

Kabat’s Ace Hardware

Kabat’s Ace Hardware, in Apache Junction, Mesa, San Tan and Yuma Arizona, gives 10% discounts to veterans, and rounds-up change for the local school’s athletic teams, and there’s much more. The hardware business has a Make A Difference day, where they help the Horizon Health and Wellness healthcare center in Apache Junction, Arizona. It’s a place that treats their patients with kindness and compassion and helps them on their journey to a healthy outcome.

Also, the hardware donates to Lilys Pad, a hyper-clean play facility that helps parents of an immunocompromised children reduce the risk of infection for their child while still allowing them some of the normal experiences of childhood. A child may be immunocompromised due to a medical condition or due to medications they are taking to fight disease. These children battling cancer, living with congenital heart defects, recovering from organ transplants, or dealing with autoimmune disorders can end up with a weakened immune system. The hardware raised $15,421.87.

Then there’s the time a DPS deputy was shot while on a call for trespassing. The hardware raised $3,507.76. Kabat’s also raised $31,851.30 for Children’s Miracle Network, the nonprofit organization that raises funds for improving and saving the lives of children. Other donations are often made by the hardware to non-profits, such as fences for a garden they installed or fountains and grills.

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Brownsboro donation
Brownsboro Hardware & Paint displays its generosity.

Every August, the Brownsboro Hardware & Paint parking lot is filled with the area’s top professional and amateur chefs cooking for a cause during the highly anticipated Big Green EggFest event. The public is invited to purchase tickets to taste dishes from every grill top, take cooking classes, and most importantly – give generously to two local food charities.

The 2022 event cooked up a record total of $35,263.18 for Kentucky Harvest and A Recipe to End Hunger. In a moving check reveal on a local TV newscast, leaders from both charities were emotional knowing how many people the money could help.

“This is a huge benefit for Kentucky Harvest,” said Heather Stewart, executive director of

Kentucky Harvest. “Our trucks pick up and deliver food 365 days a year. With increasing food costs and gas prices, this money will keep our trucks running and resources going to where it’s needed most.”

“One hundred percent of these funds will go right back into the community and into the bellies of those in need,” said Dawne Gee, founder of A Recipe to End Hunger. “It feels good to know we can confidently provide resources to homeless shelters and give backpacks of food to children who are relying on it for their weekend.”

On top of EGGFest, the Better Business Bureau recently awarded Brownsboro with its Torch Award for Ethics among local businesses. Business First also cited them as one of its top partners in philanthropy.

“Brownsboro Hardware & Paint was built on the philosophy that as a neighborhood hardware store, we have to give back to the neighborhood. And as we have grown over the past 62 years, we have expanded our giving to the entire community,” said Doug Carroll, owner. “We feel very strongly that it is our responsibility to invest in our community because our community invests in us. We are proud to be a part of it.”

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Aubuchon Hardware hammers away at cancer.

Aubuchon Hardware

Every year the Aubuchon Company supports the ongoing fight against cancer by hosting a fundraiser campaign in March called “Hammer Away Cancer.”

In 2022, the company’s stores collectively raised $74,604. To top it off, the Aubuchon Foundation donated $10,396 to bring the grand total to $85,000. That’s $6,000 more than the company’s previous record donation to the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute.”

The Hammer Away Cancer campaign, said Aubuchon, grows bigger each year as word spreads throughout the communities the company serves. This year’s effort was aided by a POS improvement, allowing for automatic roundups as well as custom donations.

“When customers donated $5 or more, we gave them a thank you gift of $5 off their next purchase,” the company says “That proved to be an effective strategy, but with the implementation of our new point of sale technology we were able to take our 2022 Hammer Away Cancer campaign to the next level.”

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Click to watch the interview with author Gina Schaefer.

A Few Cool Hardware Stores

Gina Schaefer, the founder and CEO of A Few Cool Hardware Stores, a chain of a dozen Ace hardware stores in and around Washington, D.C., believes strongly the power of redemption.

She is the author of Recovery Hardware: A Nuts and Bolts Story About Building a Business, Restoring a Community, and Renovating Lives. In her book, Schaefer shares insights into building a business, helping to reinvigorate a neighborhood (Logan Circle) and giving people in addiction recovery programs a second chance to succeed.

“I think the future of hardware stores is really intertwined with neighborhoods,” said Schaefer, in an interview with HBSDealer. “Across the country, hardware stores play such a strong part of making sure that our communities remain vibrant and safe.”

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Westlake dog
Westlake Ace enriches the Veterans Community Project village.

Westlake Ace Hardware

One of the many organizations Westlake Ace Hardware supports is the Veterans Community Project (VCP) and its VCP village, a transitional housing community consisting of 49 tiny houses. Knowing that many VCP village residents have pets, the company surprised VCP when they announced plans to fund a new doggie play yard at the village.

In June of 2022, a new play yard was formally dedicated. It includes playground equipment for canine enrichment, specialized turf, and benches so veterans can sit and relax while their four-legged family members play. Just as the VCP Village residents deserve a home of their own, now their beloved pets will have a place to run, romp, and bring smiles to the faces of the veterans.

Speaking of homes, each tiny house provides everything a homeless veteran needs to get back on their feet again, including new furniture, appliances, housewares, bedding, food, and utilities, all free of charge. Westlake Ace first began providing paint and other much-needed supplies to the VCP, but it wasn’t long before the team began to brainstorm how they could help veterans get back on their feet.

Soliciting donations from vendors, the support services squad put together five-gallon bucket tool kits that included everything someone would need as a new homeowner. In total, 115 tool kits were given to the VCP village, enough to help each resident and many more over the years. The tool kits have proven essential for veterans as they transition to civilian life and build skills to get their lives back on track.

Westlake Ace continues to support VCP throughout the year with other projects such as providing holiday lights, and stocking VCP’s line of barbecue sauces at their stores with 100 percent of the profits going back to VCP.

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Three generations of Romig family firemen.

Romig’s Hardware Hank

Romig’s and the Romig family have deep roots in their Gilman, Wisc. community since the store began operating in its current location in 1938.

There’s a long history of family service, including their son Darrell’s Wisconsin National Guard service. In the 1960s and Founder Glen Romig’s post as captain of the Gilman Rural Fire Department in 1943.

An incomplete list of community activities include the Gilman Industrial Foundation, Boy Scouts, the Miller Dam Lake Association and even the Gilman High School Senior Lock In (a wholesome graduation night tradition in Gilman).

Being a part of a small community, giving back to your community and surrounding areas is an important part of the local growth of the area,” said Cheryl Romig. “Romig’s gives back with donations to local charities and organizations of all types ranging from supporting the local school, ice fishing contests, church fund raisers and community events.”

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Rangeley Lakes
Note the slogan: “The team that works for you.”

Rangeley Lakes Builders Supply

A small town in rural Rangeley, Maine, is for some customers the only place to shop. Virginia MacFawn explained it’s the stores mission to be not only there for them, but to be fair for them —competitively priced and stocked, even on items that only move in emergencies.

And then, there’s the tradition of giving back.

“It is our privilege to be able to love and work in our special community and we do not take that for granted,” MacFawn says. “Our team is an important part of our success and we make sure they also feel our appreciation and have the opportunity to give back. We pay for up to 10 hours per year of volunteer time for each team member so that they may participate in meaningful activities for the community.”

Since the start of the business in 1983, Rangeley Lakes Builders Supply has donated gifts of time and money, helped build the local theater, supported the local wellness center, little league teams, our local school and countless other community endeavors and causes, she added.

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H & H Home and Hardware's creativity on display.

H & H Home and Hardware

A painting of a chicken, created by the paint-smudged fingers of staff and customers at the H & H paint department raised $500 at auction for the Crittenden County Backpack Program, which sends weekend meals to school children who rely on school lunches during the week.

That was the first art for charity project at Marion, Ky.-based H & H. In 2021, an abstract eye painting was purchased by an optometrist’s office for $700, which funded scholarships for high school seniors pursuing trade careers. The 2022 painting is shaping up nicely as a cow in a field.

It all started with a piece of cardboard next to a paint mixer in 2020. H & H Co-owner Shanna West wiped her paint-smudged finger across it multiple times before deciding it could be a work of art instead of dumpster-bound. Once Shanna and her team bonded over creating masterpieces from paint smudges, they decided to auction them off for different local charities each year.

The average painting takes more than 3,000 paint smudges before it’s ready to go. The locally famous Paint Counter Project draws customers in regularly to see the progress of each painting, and identify their own smudges.

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