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Spirit of Service ride gets community service award

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MN Chapter VP JoAnn Cooper with Jim Schmit, Board member for the Pioneers, and MN Chapter President Pat Jeukens accepting the award2 / 2

DULUTH, Minn. - The Pioneers, a volunteer network of telecommunications professionals and retirees, celebrated its 100th anniversary last week. The group recognized some of its top chapters nationwide at the Pioneers Annual Meeting and Centennial Celebration in Boston last week, and the CenturyLink Minnesota Chapter, Arrowhead Council (Duluth) received the Excellence in Fundraising award.

The CenturyLink Minnesota Chapter, Arrowhead Council hosts the annual "Spirit of Service Ride" each July. The ride raises funds for the Minnesota Assistance Council for Veterans (MACV), helping veterans in the Northland area. The Duluth community also takes part, as local dentists, hotels and motels donate toothpaste, toothbrushes and soap for distribution to veterans in need.

In 2010, the "Spirit of Service Ride" raised more than $8,000, which was enough to complete construction of buildings designated for veteran housing. The 2011 event brought in $10,000; and in the past four years has raised more than $25,000 for veterans.

"We are extremely grateful for the community support we receive each year," said Pioneers Senior Vice President of the Minnesota Chapter, and CenturyLink employee, JoAnn Cooper. "It is important to honor those who have served our country, and it is a blessing that the 'Spirit of Service Ride' can raise the funds needed to assist Northland area veterans."

CenturyLink's Minnesota Chapter was also recognized for Project Excellence - Military for its collection of personal care items that were distributed as care packages to support Minnesota homeless veterans and MACV.

Approximately 1,200 representatives attended the Pioneers' 100th Anniversary Celebration, including 54 from CenturyLink. The CenturyLink Pioneers received a total of six awards at the conference.