2018 Not-So-Ordinary Ornament - Remembering Joe Allen
By Jessica Dieken
During our 2017 Not-So-Ordinary Ornament campaign, we had the privilege of working with a group of students and a teacher at Fossil Ridge High School Alternative Cooperative Education (ACE) program. These incredible students designed and created our ornaments that we give to Otter employees in exchange for a donation. Students made 1,300 ornaments and even came to the Otter Products HQ campus to tell Otter employees about the design process and what they learned while running this part of their business. Because of their hard work and the generosity of Otter employees, in 2017 we were able to provide two grants to schools and nonprofits to further entrepreneurial and innovative education.
Joe Allen was the ACE coordinator for the ACE program and was a very special person. Funny, laid back and fiercely passionate about his students, whenever we saw Joe he always had a big smile on his face and was eager to do whatever he could to help give his students the opportunities they needed to develop professional and personal skills. Working with him and his students was a joy that helped make the Christmas season that much more special. Sadly, Joe passed away in a tragic accident over the summer. The Fort Collins school community was in shock, and we were heartbroken to have lost such a joyful and passionate educator and friend.
As we started to plan for our 2018 Not-So-Ordinary Ornament campaign, we saw the fundraiser event as a great opportunity to help the ACE program at Fossil Ridge High School honor Joe and keep his message of perseverance and positivity alive. After discussing the project with the new ACE coordinator, Adam Waters, we knew in our hearts that this was the right direction for this year’s ornament. Adam worked with his students to identify a special quote that had meaning to Joe and to the students as well. They choose a quote from Walt Disney; “If you can dream it, you can do it.” With the quote, the drew a dream catcher to help bring this quote to life.
Thanks to the generosity of Otter employees, more than 1,000 ornaments were given to Otter employees in exchange for a donation, with over $5,500 raised to help the ACE students create a memorial for Joe in Fossil Ridge High School and in the community. ACE students plan to rebrand their business, a coffee cart currently called “School Grounds”. Collaborating with their school’s art and metal shop students, the coffee cart will be rebranded as “A Cup of Joe”, helping to keep Joe’s memory and lightheartedness alive for current and future students that pass through the halls of Fossil Ridge. In addition, a donation will be made to a chapter of the Special Olympics in Fort Collins and San Diego; an organization that was near to Joe’s heart.
We are so grateful for the impact that Joe not only made on his students but our community as well. We will forever be transformed by his generous spirit and passion for making our world a better place. We are honored to have known him and to be a part of helping to keep his legacy alive.