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Omaha Magazine

A Bargain for All: Thermo King Executives Donate Valuable Resource

Jan 17, 2021 01:15PM ● By Daisy Hutzell Rodman
Brenda Christensen and Mike Morris

Photography by Bill Sitzmann

The Junior League is a women’s group that strives “to develop exceptionally qualified civic leaders who collaborate with community partners to identify a community’s most urgent needs and address them with meaningful and relevant programs and initiatives that not only improve lives, but also change the way people think.”

Executive Director of Kicks for a Cure Brenda Christensen, whose family has owned the logistics and transportation company Thermo King Christensen since 1946, joined Junior League of Omaha. She enjoyed the experience so much she became a sustainer when she finished as an active member in 2000.

“It was a really great way to jump in and learn about the community and figure out how to be a good volunteer in the community,” Christensen said. “Rather than getting really specific with an organization, it gives broader perspective, and learning how to be a good committee member, how to be on a governing board, how to run a meeting, Robert’s Rules. There are so many terrific people who were similar in our passions, and I have friends from my first meeting who are lifelong friends.”

Since she had a connection with trucking, she found a way to get involved when the Junior League created a new fundraiser four years ago. The Junior League’s Bargain Bash is an annual rummage sale at Ralston Arena.

“The Junior League of Omaha is so grateful for Mike and Brenda’s continued support over the years,” said current president Katie Triplett. “Our Bargain Bash fundraiser wouldn’t be what it is today without their years of generosity and involvement. Brenda has also served as adviser to many of our members over the years, including serving a two-year term as board adviser.”

Christensen and her husband, Thermo King vice president Mike Morris, have donated a 53-foot tractor-trailer and storage for the Bargain Bash items, which are dropped off approximately once a month.

“Depending on the year (rental) is anywhere from $700-$1000 per month, so we take this out of our fleet,” Morris said. “Our employees enjoy seeing these ladies coming in with their items to donate.”

The trucking industry has never been used as heavily as it has been through the COVID-19 pandemic, but the Christensens, and their company, remained committed to the Junior League.

“Typically from [August] until February our rental fleet is out,” Morris said. “With the pandemic, there’s been demand to all our trailers due to the changes in society. We’re committed, we’re not going to take away that trailer.”

Another benefit of having the trailer and storage is that loading is assisted by the ability to send the truck down the street from Thermo King Christensen at 73rd and F streets to Ralston Arena off 72nd and P streets, where Junior League volunteers unload the trucks in preparation of the Bargain Bash.

The 2021 Bargain Bash is expected to be in the spring. There was no Bargain Bash in 2020 due to the pandemic, but the 2019 bash raised $14,000 from the sale of merchandise, which helps the organization support community programs.

While Christensen is passionate about this organization, Morris is also supportive.

“I think for this instance, I joined in 1986 also,” Morris said. “We want to be supportive of the different endeavors that are presented to us…This was an opportunity that we developed as an organization that we know does good things for the community. It allows them to have a place to store their stuff and us to do some good.”

“The Christiansens have been instrumental to the success of Bargain Bash,” said event co-chair Molly Junge. “Rarely is a couple both involved like Mike and Brenda are. Mike is actively involved with our donation drop offs once a month. He always makes it a point in his day to come greet our volunteers and see the progress we are making with donations. Brenda has consistently kept the success of Bargain Bash at the top of mind. She was instrumental in connecting us with The Hope Center, where she is a board member. Because of this connection, we are able to partner with The Hope Center for our 2021 Bargain Bash.”

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This letter was in the February/March 2021 issue of B2B.