Giving Back in a BIG Way

HARRISONBURG, VA. —When it comes to fundraising, Tom Yeakle goes Big. A lifelong Harrisonburg resident and Walmart employee since 1994, 62 year-old Yeakle has found a cause to champion through his involvement in Big Brothers Big Sisters’ signature, annual fundraiser, Bowl for Kids’ Sake. Since 2011, Yeakle has single-handedly raised over $22,000 to support local children facing adversity through the event. On Friday, August 14, Yeakle’s efforts were recognized at the grand re-opening of the Walmart Supercenter in Dayton, Virginia.

Photo: (From left) Dayton Walmart Co-manager Mike Keyser, Walmart Associate Tom Yeakle, BBBS Resource Development Director Lindsey Douglas, Walmart Market Manager Steve Matthews
Yeakle first heard about Bowl for Kids’ Sake through his bowling league at the alley where the event is held. His first year as a participant, Yeakle raised $729 in cash, mostly through personal donations averaging about $5. He has increased his personal fundraising total every year since, raising a total of $5,001 in 2015. In recent years, Yeakle has also raised funds by counting his volunteer hours for the event toward the Walmart Volunteerism Always Pays (VAP) program. The VAP program encourages Walmart employees to get involved with the charitable organizations that mean the most to them by awarding grants to eligible organizations where associates volunteer.
“Tom is always the first to ask, ‘How can I help?’ with regard to fundraising,” explains Mike Keyser, co-manager of Walmart in Dayton. “He is a smiling face that our customers look for when they are checking out. He is always fundraising for one of the organizations that he believes in and he is always successful in getting other associates from our store involved by showing them his passion in helping every organization that he can.”
With his dedicated Bowl for Kids’ Sake notebook in hand, Yeakle is a familiar sight around the Harrisonburg community as he embarks on his personal Bowl for Kids’ Sake fundraising campaign from November to March each year. From work, to church, to social engagements, where Tom goes, his notebook goes. Each year, he has grown his number of individual sponsors, receiving support from over 300 fellow community members in 2015.
“We can’t say enough about how much Tom’s support means to our agency,” says Sue Totty, Executive Director of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Harrisonburg-Rockingham County. “Year in and year out, Tom’s dedication and commitment are truly inspiring and remind us that one person can make a tremendous impact in our community.”
Yeakle’s personal efforts enhance long-standing partnerships between Big Brothers Big Sisters and the three local Walmart facilities. The event also highlighted the presentation of a $2,000 grant from the Dayton Walmart to Big Brothers Big Sisters. Through Walmart’s Local Giving Program and Volunteerism Always Pays grants, combined contributions from the local Distribution Center and two retail locations in Dayton and at Harrisonburg Crossing since 2011 have exceeded $35,000. In addition, the Walmart Foundation has awarded $105,000 in grants to the local Big Brothers Big Sisters affiliate through the Walmart State Giving Program.
As an affiliate of Big Brothers Big Sisters of America, the nation’s premiere donor-and-volunteer supported youth mentoring network, the local agency served 680 children in 2014 by matching them in professionally supported, one-to-one mentoring relationships with caring adults. Evaluation data shows that children enrolled in the local program consistently experience improvements in academic performance, avoidance of risky behaviors, and increased self-esteem.
About Big Brothers Big Sisters
Big Brothers Big Sisters of Harrisonburg-Rockingham County is a youth-services organization that pairs adult mentors in professionally guided, one-to-one matches with children facing adversity. As an affiliate of Big Brothers Big Sisters of America, the nation’s largest donor and volunteer supported mentoring network, the organization holds itself accountable for children in the program to achieve positive, measurable outcomes through research-based methods. Among other improvements, local evaluation data shows that children served progress academically, avoid delinquency, and experience increased self-confidence. Founded locally in 1976 as an outreach of Trinity Presbyterian Church, the organization is the largest Big Brothers Big Sisters agency in the state of Virginia, serving 680 children in 2014. For more information, please call 540.433.8886 or visit
About Philanthropy at Walmart
Walmart and the Walmart Foundation are committed to helping people live better through philanthropic efforts that draw on the strengths of Walmart in the arenas of sustainability, economic opportunity, and community. As part of our commitment to creating a more sustainable food system worldwide, Walmart and the Walmart Foundation are leading the fight against hunger in the United States. They recently exceeded a $2 billion goal to fight hunger one year ahead of schedule and have donated more than 1.5 billion pounds of food to those in need across the country. To learn more about Walmart’s giving, visit

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