Thomas’ Enlists Local Consumers, Nonprofits and Businesses for Trail Cleanup

The Pacific Northwest is a nature lover’s paradise with ample parks, trails, forests and mountains to hike and explore. Tapping into this community’s passion for the outdoors, Thomas’, a brand of English muffins and bagels owned by Bimbo Bakeries USA, returned to the region to engage consumers during two trail cleanup events. For the second consecutive year, Thomas’ partnered with local nonprofit organizations Friends of Lake Sammamish State Park in Issaquah, WA, near Seattle, and the Forest Park Conservancy in Portland, OR, to host the volunteer events on National Cleanup Day (Sept. 17) and National Public Lands Day (Sept. 24), respectively.

Altogether, the volunteers enhanced the parks through maintenance, beautification, weeding and trash removal, as well as expanded designated walking trails and created ADA accessible paths. Following the cleanup efforts, Thomas’ treated volunteers to a catered breakfast, featuring local favorites Portage Bay Cafe and The Daily Feast, which use the brand’s products in their dishes.

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“We put some signage around the parks and gave out t-shirts, orange sunglasses and swag to volunteers,” says Mike Jensen, senior brand manager of Thomas’ Breakfast. “We also worked with local caterers and chefs, who actually use our products themselves already, to help us put the menu together, involving as much of the community as possible. And then on top of that, we have out-of-home and radio [advertising] going right now, so this kind of ties in nicely with all the marketing efforts in the area.”

The first iteration of the cleanup events in 2021 came to fruition because Thomas’ wanted to connect in person with consumers in a safe way during the pandemic. The outdoor setting created the perfect opportunity to gather locals in activities that would give back to the community while serving up Thomas’ baked goods.

This year, the cleanup events drew nearly 200 volunteers—a 28-percent increase over 2021—who engaged with the brand. On average, 37 percent of participants had never heard of Thomas’, 39 percent had never tried its products, and 46 percent had never purchased a Thomas’ product.

The nonprofit organizations invited their social media followers to participate, and linking the cleanups to nationwide events helped attract volunteers and generate press. Issaquah participants removed trash and mulched 36,000 square feet at Lake Sammamish State Park, while volunteers in Portland cleared away a mile of English ivy from trails and an acre of English ivy from Forest Park.

Jensen says in the future, the team will consider adding events at parks and trails that are closer to the Pacific Northwest’s major cities to expand their footprint and encourage more volunteer involvement. In addition to the on-site events, Thomas’ made a $10,000 donation to each nonprofit to support habitat restoration and future expansion projects to maintain the trails’ integrity.

“We had great excitement from the parks and the organizations, and not many brands do stuff like this, so we felt we were really fulfilling a great need,” he says. “It’s not all about Thomas’; it’s about bringing people together and doing something good for their communities.” Agency: Inspira Marketing.

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The trail cleanup events each included a Thomas’-inspired breakfast spread catered by local hot spots.

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