Warner Norcross brightens up Christmas for those in need all around Michigan


– Legal News Photos by Cynthia Price

by Cynthia Price
Legal News

Like many other law firms in the Grand Rapids area, Warner Norcross and Judd’s employees gave back to the community this year over the Christmas season.

Each Warner Norcross location expressed their holiday good will in different ways.

In Kent County, Warner Norcross continued its decade-long tradition of donating toys to make the season brighter for children going through the Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) program. CASA Kent County volunteer advocates help abused and neglected children who are wards of the court make their way through the court system as they seek protective services.
Each year, attorneys and staff who attend the children’s holiday party held by Warner Norcross bring an unwrapped gift for donation. Each brings a toy, or toys, intended for a child the same age as his or her own children. This year the age range was from birth to mid-teens, and the spectrum of gifts ran from educational toys to trains and baby dolls.

Attorneys and their spouses coordinate the Warner Norcross party, which also includes games, food treats, and a  special VIP visitor: Santa Claus. But each attorney who attends gives back in turn, as gifts are collected to help the CASA kids, who may be suffering even more acutely at this time of year.

Recognizing that times are tough, the Warner Norcross team donated a record number of gifts this year. The final tally was almost 140.

On Dec. 15, CASA Kent County held its own party, and staff was delighted to be able to give those gifts out to deserving children. Advocates accompany their kids to event, but foster families are also invited, and occasionally, where it is advisable, the child’s parents.

Comments Patty Sabin, CASA Kent County Executive Director, about Warner Norcross: “Without this incredibly generous organization this party would not have occurred in as successful and touching a way as it did. We’re just extremely grateful to them for their generosity.”

Three female volunteer “elves” wrapped the gifts this year and helped Santa distribute them at the festivities. Sabin adds, “This party is really cool for us as staff because we read about these kids as ‘cases,’  but then we get to meet them, put faces to their names. And we couldn’t do it without Warner Norcross and Judd.”

The Warner Norcross Lansing office collected non-perishable food for the Lansing City Rescue Mission, which gives food boxes to low-income families. In 2011, attorneys and staff filled four barrels.

The Children’s Center, in Detroit, benefited from the donations of the attorneys and staff of Warner Norcross’s Southfield office.

The group pulled together a large donation of food gift cards, canned goods, and toys for the Center, which offers 20 programs and services to Detroit residents. This followed on the heels of the Southfield office’s drive to donate back-to-school supplies to the Center in the fall.

And in nearby Muskegon, the 12 attorneys and small staff were able to grant every item on the wish list of a family the firm adopted through Every Woman’s Place and Webster House — and more. The Muskegon office has done this for at least six years.

Every Woman’s Place is a well-established organization whose mission is to “improve and enhance the lives of women, youth, and families in crisis in our community...”  The residential portion of the facility is experiencing an increase in numbers of women and families seeking help due primarily to domestic violence.

Warner Norcross Office Manager Tammy James spearheaded an internal funding drive, after which she and receptionist Beth Norkus shopped to make all the family’s dreams come true, including hampers full of food. And wrapping all those gifts? Warner Norcross was fortunate in finding that the daughter of one of its legal secretaries, Cindy Thielman, absolutely loves to wrap Christmas presents.