CPAs have warm hearts for cold kids

Forget all those TV stereotypes that you see about accountants being stuffy and only interested in the bottom line. As the winter weather moves in, the team at Burnett + Company, LLP in Rancho Cordova, California is participating in the local News 10 Coats for Kids program and the bottom line is the last thing on their minds. At last count, they were so swamped with coat donations that they've devoted the auditor's office to house them.

The 17th annual coat drive is sponsored by the local News 10 team, with a 2008 goal of collecting 30,000 new and gently used coats. Burnett + Company serves as a drop off point. Within the first three hours of announcing their participation, 21 coats had already come in. "I am not surprised," says Managing Partner, Steve Burnett. "We are a regional CPA firm with deep local roots, our company culture is one that naturally cares about our community."

Rochelle Otterstrom, Marketing Coordinator for the firm says that staff members have been surfing the Internet looking for deals on brand new jackets. One of the coats, says Otterstrom, is light pink and furry with black bows. "It's size two," she says. "I can just imagine the smile on the little girl's face who receives it." Whoever the lucky little girl is, she'll be warm this winter, and dressing in style.

Otterstrom says they've lost count of how many jackets have been collected. They just keep piling them in, and now there are stacks and stacks of colorful coats lining the auditor's office. In fact, rumor has it that, last week, an IRS auditor went in there to work and hasn't been seen since. At least we know he's warm.

As the deadline to donate – December 18th – grows closer, the momentum has slowed down, she says. But anyone in the area who wishes to donate can bring coats to the Burnett + Company LLP office at: 2870 Gold Tailings Court, Rancho Cordova (east of Sacramento).

Volunteerism is not new at Burnett + Company

This is the first year the firm has participated in the News 10 Coats for Kids project. But volunteerism and generosity are nothing new at this firm. Last Christmas they worked with local volunteers in support of "Operation Flat Rate," which was a drive to send gift packages to our troops overseas.

"It seems our firm is always, collectively and individually, involved in one form or another of charitable activity," says Otterstrom.

"Team Burnett" as they like to call themselves participated last Thanksgiving in a Run to Feed the Hungry. It's an annual 5k run/walk that raised a whopping $600,000 for the Sacramento Food Bank & Family Services. This has become something of a tradition for the firm. This year they drew attention with their matching shirts that read,"It's True… Burnetts have more FUN!"

Here are a few of the other projects Team Burnett has been involved in recently:

  • Boxes from Builders – a semiannual effort coordinated by North State Building Industry to send care packages to military serving in Iraq or Afghanistan.

  • Heroes at Home – a hands on volunteer effort to revitalize homes of Sacramento area military members with service related injuries who are experiencing financial hardships. (Also coordinated by the North State Building Industry.)

  • Operation Backpack – this annual drive put on by Volunteers of America, provides backpacks and school supplies for homeless and low-income children. We really went to town on this one! Our IT Administrator headed up this drive and we really went to town buying backpacks, stuffing them with fun themed notebooks, calculators, rulers, pencils, and other supplies.
  • Sacramento Region's Paint the Town - Local businesses partner with NeighborWorks HomeOwnership Center Sacramento Region (NeighborWorks HOCSR) to provide hands-on labor, painting the homes of low-income residents.

    And individually… Otterstrom says just about everyone is involved in the community in one way or another. Take a look at these examples:

  • Ross Cofer, a firm Partner, will serve as the President of Rancho Cordova – Sunrise, Rotary Club, in 2009.
  • Rochelle Otterstrom placed 2nd runner up in the Greater Sacramento Leukemia Lymphoma Society's 2008 Man, Woman, Celebrity & Teen of the Year, a competition to raise funds to battle blood cancers.

  • Jim Walden, another firm Partner, serves as coach on his son's soccer team.

    Plus, says Otterstrom, others in the firm serve in capacities such as PTA president, Girl Scout Troop Leader, volunteers for a local homeless shelter… and the list goes on.

    "Our firm understands the meaning of life/work balance," says Otterstrom "... the meaning of team and community, and the opportunity each of us has to make a difference in this world."

    Of course… as an insider who is proud of her firm, Otterstrom might be a wee bit prejudice. From an outside view, the explanation for all this activity seems more basic… that is… the people at Burnett + Company are just a truly nice bunch of people. As professionals in their industry, of course they care about the bottom line. But stuffy? Nah! Not these folks.


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