Tiffany Burkey learned the importance of volunteerism early on. As a single mother working a minimum wage job, she was dependent on the Oregon Food Bank and other volunteer-supported organizations to help make ends meet.

“When you’re pinching pennies to pay the rent, a box of food really helps,” said Burkey.

Now, after slowly working her way into a project management job at Intel, Burkey is one of the most active employees in the company’s matching grant program. When employees volunteer at qualified schools and nonprofit organizations, the Intel Foundation “matches” $10 per hour as grants after a minimum of 20 hours.

Burkey volunteered at a number of locations last year, including Mooberry Elementary, a Title I school in Hillsboro, which received a grant of more than $8,300 from the foundation.

“I believe in giving back to the community, both the local and global community,” said Burkey, who also volunteered at organizations ranging from Volunteers of America to Meals on Wheels.

Thanks to volunteers like Burkey, company employees generated nearly $355,000 for Hillsboro schools and nonprofit organizations through the Intel Involved Matching Grant program in 2012. Statewide last year, Intel employees volunteered more than 300,000 hours, earning $2 million dollars in matching grants from the Intel Foundation.

Back when she was in need, Burkey had no idea she’d wind up working for a large company like Intel. She took practically every job she could find, including working on a farm, at a gas station and at a restaurant at the Portland International Airport. She finally found herself working for a company that sold computer hardware and software applications. It was bought by a bigger company, which gave her more exposure to the high tech world.

When she saw an online job posting at Intel in 2000, Burkey sent in her application and was hired. She now manages a lab and programs on the Jones Farm campus in Hillsboro.

Burkey was quickly drawn to the volunteer program, becoming involved in her second year at Intel and eventually chairing the committee that coordinates the program for employees at the Jones Farm campus. For her, the rewards of volunteering are immediate, whether it is helping the environment or seeing students becoming more proud of their school.

“Ultimately, the Intel Involved Matching Grant Program is the number-one benefit Intel offers to me,” said Burkey, who is now 42 and has two sons.

Although the program has evolved over the years, Intel first began providing monetary matches for hours volunteered in 1995. The foundation caps its grants at $10,000 for each eligible nonprofit organization per year and $15,000 for each eligible school per year.

Despite the limitations, grant funds were widely distributed in Hillsboro last year. For example, more than 15,000 volunteer hours were spent at local schools and educational organizations, generating $145,000 in grants.

Specific grants include:

n Hillsboro Parks and Recreation received $19,710 from program volunteers and $8,400 from maintenance volunteers.

n The Jackson Bottom Wetlands Preserve received $5,610 from Tualatin River watershed management volunteers.

n The Hillsboro Senior Center received a $4,125 grant from volunteers who helped prepare and serve meals.

n Hillsboro’s Community Emergency Response program received a $1,575 grant from the time the volunteers logged.

n Century High School received a $15,000 matching grant, with its boys basketball, girls lacrosse and band, speech and debate teams receiving additional funding.

n Hillsboro High School and its technology department received a $5,750 grant.

n Home Plate Youth Services received a $10,000 grant.

n The Hillsboro Soccer Club received a $10,000 grant.

n The 4-H Youth Oregon State Extension Service received a $8,850 grant.

n The Oregon International Air Show received a $9,470 grant.

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