In less than two weeks, that number dropped to 55 wishes as continually more Anytime Fitness members grabbed them off the tree in the lobby. Michelle Schroeder, owner of the gym, said a partnership with Big Brother Big Sisters’ local chapter made the Angel Tree possible.
“Big Brothers Big Sisters was really great about collecting the data for us though they had never done one before locally. We worked with them and they were able to collect a list of children for us,” Schroeder said. “When I asked them what the need was, they said ‘how many can you handle?’ I have never done one of these before, but I am pretty impressed with the 10 or 12 days we have had it going so far.”
Along with her husband Barry, Schroeder opened the Anytime Fitness on Wingfield Hills Road three years ago as the couple’s first venture into the gym-owning business. She said it is regular to see the club holding one or more charity events or collections each month and, with the “Cheers environment” offered at the gym, members are always willing to lend a hand.
“When we first got started in this business we were calling around and asking other business owners how to get involved with different charities, and now we don't even do that anymore. We have just sort of become the gym that is known for it,” Schroeder said. “I know, off the top of my head, a handful of members who will step up if we need them to and make sure each one of these kids is taken care of. We have that kind of a family relationship with these people.”
Schroeder and the Anytime Fitness members have done charity work for autism, childhood obesity, the Northern Nevada Food Bank, deploying soldiers and several families who were in need. She said providing a hub for giving back to the community and “affecting the masses” has been the family’s goal from Day 1.
“Some people look around here and think this is a pretty affluent area, and it is, but it isn’t. Everybody has their struggles,” she said. “We opened during the bottom of the market and we have seen the area start to grow and come back and it has been a huge eye-opener to what is going on outside your window. You really have to take a step outside.”
Schroeder said the Angel Tree project is one she would like to see continue to grow each Christmas holiday. The project has even sparked a local salon to begin an Angel Tree inside its shop, providing the opportunity to affect about 200 local children between the two outlets.
In being a driving force supporting local charities, Schroeder said the hard part is not finding members to participate, but balancing the number of projects being taken on.
“Our challenge is really not being able to do all the ones we want to do,” she said. “There will be times we will have two going already and a third has approached us but we are already booked for the month. If we can’t hold something big we always give something small and offer as much help as we can.”
Schroeder said the “clean and convenient” environment of the gym attracts many retired clients who are already actively involved in the community. Calling them the “best members in the world,” Schroeder said she is able to do positive networking with her surrounding community to continue offering charity events benefitting local children.
“I think you get what you give, and we always try to put it out there that (the events are) a positive thing and make it about the impact we can make so people can see what the outcome is going to be before we get started,” she said. “When we started, I was flying blind, and I still am with some of these things, but just being a voice I try to constantly see what I can do to help and see who will listen.”
The Angel Tree will be offered at Anytime Fitness in Spanish Springs until Dec. 18 and the presents will be delivered to the children on Dec. 19. Members and non-members are encouraged to assist a young child. For more information, call 626-2500.