When the coronavirus shut down work at AOI Corporation, it paid them to volunteer and build a house.

AOI partnered with Habitat for Humanity of Sarpy County last month to build a home in Bellevue and paid its employees to volunteer there.

The company does work in construction and makes furniture and architectural products, and the coronavirus shut down most of the campuses where the company was working and put furniture projects on hold, said President Christine Hill.

Hill heard Habitat needed volunteers and AOI, whose office is west of the Giles Road-Interstate 80 interchange, has partnered with the organization in the past, so she reached out and sent employees to help.

“We didn’t want people to sit at home and not get paid, so this was a way to keep them busy and do some good,” she said.

Crews were happy to be working and they appreciated the opportunity to get work hours since they are paid hourly, Hill said. The company didn’t lay off any employees and had faith that customers would come back after the pandemic was over.

“We felt that was the right thing to do until we know what was going to happen long term,” she said.

Other employees who couldn’t work on installation projects started cleaning and mulching yards, Hill said.

“If someone has a good idea we’re trying to say yes,” she said.

It took about three weeks to finish the house and the weather was nice for the most part, other than a quick mid-April snowstorm. The house, located at 1804 Avery Road in Bellevue, was completed on April 21.

Habitat for Humanity is easy to work with and it was a smooth process to get involved, Hill said.

“It was nice to do some good in a scary time,” she said.

Don Glenn, interim executive director of Habit of Sarpy County, said he was thrilled AOI was able to help because Habitat shut down all construction and would’ve had to rebuild its volunteer crew.

“I think it’s wonderful,” he said. “I was surprised. I was wondering if we were able to build because we didn’t have any volunteers on the construction side.”

AOI didn’t stop there with the good deeds. It also made and donated several batches of hand sanitizer to hospitals that were encountering shortages, Hill said.

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