TD Bank call center employees Jason Eggleston, left, and Shawn Walker stand with the refrigerator they repurposed to raise more than $20,000 for charity in the past four years. Submitted photo

AUBURN — Every week, Jason Eggleston scours the local super market flyers to find the best sales on soda and water.

All the packs of cans and bottles he ends up with aren’t for him, though.

For the past four years, Eggleston and his co-worker Shawn Walker at TD Bank’s contact center in Auburn have raked in thousands of dollars for charity based on a simple concept.

They turned an office minifridge into a fundraising machine by selling beverages for $1 a piece.

Walker said the project got started when he joined the call center’s Dempsey Challenge fundraising committee, and came up with the idea to use an extra refrigerator he had to sell drinks at the office. The first month he ran it, he raised $400.

“It’s really grown, and people really seem to enjoy it,” he said.

The call center boasts roughly 500 employees, and it is basically a 24-hour operation.

Eggleston took over shortly after, and has been managing it for the past three years. It’s become so popular that he likens it to running a small business. They go through about 1,000 cans of soda per month, he said.

“It’s become like a small operation now, where we’re constantly trying to find the best price for sodas,” he said. “But everyone really enjoys it, and they know they’re giving back.”

He said he “constantly” checks local prices to get the best deal on drinks, and picks them up on the way to work or on the way home.

When asked, Eggleston said the most popular beverage sold is water, followed by various types of sodas. He said it’s cyclical. In the wintertime, they sell a lot of ginger ale. At night, when employees might need a little caffeine kick, they buy Mountain Dew.

They also try to keep some local options, like Poland Spring and Moxie, he said.

“Our No. 1 product is water, which is great,” he said. “And Shawn and I have talked about adding in other types of drinks like juice and some healthier options.”

While it began as a Dempsey Challenge fundraiser, the call center now switches up its beneficiary monthly. They range from local organizations to national ones. In the past few months, they’ve donated to local organizations such as Barbara Bush Children’s Hospital and the Greater Androscoggin Humane Society, but also give to national ones such as veterans’ services organization The Fisher House and United Way.

Others include the Good Shepherd Food Bank, New Beginnings Youth Outreach, the World Wildlife Foundation, Special Olympics Maine, and Outright L-A.

Each month, they poll their fellow employees on which organization they’d like to donate to next. Last month, the pair raised $700.

“The Dempsey Challenge was our first one so we always do that one,” Walker said.

Patricia Caldwell, fundraising and fitness for life coordinator for the Dempsey Center, said they have “a wonderful relationship” with TD Bank.

“With those donations, we can continue to provide support services at no cost to our clients that come through the door,” she said.

Scott Holden, communications manager for TD Bank, said all the employees at the call center are “passionate about the local community and giving back.” He said Eggleston and Walker are examples of employees who give their own flavor to fundraising.

“If I said I was at all surprised by the grassroots origin or the positive, sustained response of this, I’d be lying,” said Scott McCown, senior contact center manager in Auburn.

Due to the success of the minifridge fundraising, other TD contact centers are paying attention.

Eggleston said an employee from a different location recently contacted him, asking for guidance on how to “make the numbers work” to start a similar project.

“I’ll continue to do this as long as I work here,” he said.

Know someone with a deep well of unlimited public spirit? Someone who gives of their time to make their community a better place? Then nominate them for Kudos. Send their name and the place where they do their good deeds to reporter Andrew Rice at [email protected] and we’ll do the rest.

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