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Mitten Brewing Co. puts spotlight on local charities, seeks to improve local community

Each month, The Mitten Brewing Co. features a different charity or nonprofit organization to help raise funds. Chris Andrus, part owner of The Mitten, and his wife Shannon Andrus talk about those charities and the positive effects they hope to have.

Current Mitten Tap List

Mitten Brewing Company

  • Country Strong IPA 
  • Ryebaby
  • Kissing Bandit Blonde 
  • Maple Toasted Pecan Brown 
  • Triple Crown Brown
  • Vanilla Milk Stout 

/Courtesy of The Mitten Brewing Co.

Informational booth for CTC at The MItten

Informational booth for CTC at The MItten /Emilee Andrews

/Emilee Andrews

Even before The Mitten opened its doors at 527 Leonard Street NW, an important part of their mission was to find ways to give back to their community and affect tangible change in positive ways. They started by picking a different charity or nonprofit to spotlight each month, and on the last Monday of the month, they hold a special event where the chosen organization can utilize The Mitten’s space however they want. In addition, 50 percent of the day’s food sales (for dine-in and take-out) go to the chosen organization.

“Right now, we’re handcuffed by our limited space as far as how much money we can raise, so we’re really excited to open the upstairs [expansion],” says Chris Andrus, part owner of The Mitten Brewing Co.

Charities are most often picked by Mitten investors, but sometimes, opportunities spring up that are too good to pass up, says Shannon Andrus, event coordinator for The Mitten.

“We’ve been really lucky with donations. A couple months ago, [we helped] Harrison Elementary and Challenge Scholars. [A donor approached us and said] he was willing to match all of the donations given during that month, so $1,500 became $3,000,” she says.

Since their opening last September, the owners of The Mitten have done their best to help the donation program grow and to be as effective in fundraising as possible. Recently, they have issued a challenge to their employees to help drive donations.

Last month, Shannon Andrus issued a challenge to Mitten employees in hopes of raising more funds for the Make A Wish Foundation. Servers collected donations from patrons who were then honored by a star on the wall of The Mitten with their name written on it. The server with the most donations at the end of the month was given a Mitten-themed prize package. 

"They made an extra $600 for [Make A Wish]," says Shannon Andrus. 

The Mitten chooses local charities and nonprofits, and want donations they receive to make a tangible difference in the day-to-day operations of the organization.

“The Susan G. Komen Foundation doesn’t need our $2,000 donation, but there are organizations that could really use a contribution that size,” says Chris Andrus. “It’s important to us that the money we raise goes to help further a cause instead of simply covering administrative costs.”

One example of this is the $4,200 The Mitten raised for a scholarship for West Catholic High School. “It made the difference between a student being able to attend the school and not [being able to],” he says.

The next step for their monthly donation program is to encourage employees involved in a more hands-on way.

“We want to try to get employees to help out in any way they can,” says Shannon Andrus. “We would love it if that means donating time to a nonprofit and getting involved firsthand.”

An ultimate goal for The Mitten is to create The Mitten Brewing Co. Foundation, their own nonprofit organization. Accomplishing this goal will help expand the ways the chosen nonprofit can utilize the space.

“We’ll be able to hold raffles and organize that for [whoever we’re featuring for the month],” she says.

The chosen organization for the month of July is the Comprehensive Therapy Center of Grand Rapids. The CTC provides educational services to mentally disabled children. During the school year, they provide special education support to schools lacking a designated program. During the summer, they offer a supplemental therapy program called Therapy and Fun.

The special event day will take place on July 28 and 50 percent of all food sales on that day will be donated to CTC. A portion of total food sales for the month of July will also go to the CTC. 

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