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Hugging puppies for charity? Sign me up!

These days it’s easy to give to your favorite charity. Grocery stores round up to the next dollar, restaurants host meal drives, credit cards donate rewards dollars, and automatic deduction and workplace giving allow for reminder-free support. At MultiCare, they recently put a unique—and adorable—spin on fundraising: puppies. Thanks to the Hug-A-Husky event held at MultiCare Capital Medical Center in Olympia, donations went hand in paw with wagging tails and slobbery wiggles.

MultiCare’s Christine Hogue explains that “MultiCare makes it a priority to be active members of the communities we serve, as we live up to our mission of ‘Partnering for healing and a healthy future.’ Our commitment to community is evident in our annual United Way giving campaign, an event that raised more than $200,000 last year.”

And when they say ‘future,’ they mean it. This relationship isn’t a new one but part of “a 30-year partnership with United Way,” says Hogue. “Each year, our employees participate through donation pledges, fundraising events and volunteering. Our campaign reaches across all of our locations and is often highlighted as one of the most meaningful parts of working for MultiCare, especially for our employees working in Olympia and throughout Thurston County.”

Having more than 20,000 team members throughout their 11 hospitals, clinics, and other offices, giving goes a long way. Hug-A-Husky and other programs are entirely voluntary and participants can choose either automatic payroll withdrawals or one-time donations in any dollar amount, says Hogue.

“Many departments also organize their own activities to raise funds and donate proceeds to the campaign, including this year’s special Hug-A-Husky event at MultiCare Capital Medical Center in Olympia,” says Hogue. “For a donation of $1 or more, employees got to spend five minutes with an adorable Husky puppy – a welcome mental and physical break for our health care team.”

This is because studies show that “Even just petting a familiar dog lowers blood pressure, heart rate, slows breathing, and relaxes muscle tension…which is especially important during tough times. Though people may think we’re taking care of our canine companions, it’s mutual: Dogs take care of us, and science confirms it.”

With organizational values including respect, stewardship, collaboration, and kindness, MultiCare works in communities around the Pacific Northwest. Their compassion is shown every day as a not-for-profit, community-based, locally-owned health system designed to meet the varied, ever-changing needs of community healthcare. Doing this one puppy at a time means the United Way can continue to give, advocate, and volunteer where they’re needed most.