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For the agents of Lambros ERA Real Estate, selling houses and property is about more than creating a new home for a family or business. It’s also one of the ways they are able to give back to the broader communities they work in.

This year, the Lambros Community Foundation will be giving out more than $15,000 to nonprofits in communities across western Montana. That number will bring the total amount of donations it has made since its founding in 2002 to more than $141,000.

"All of that money goes to providing food, clothing and shelter," said Molly Austin, a Lambros real estate agent and president of the Lambros Community Foundation.

The foundation raises money primarily through receiving a portion of agents’ commission checks, as well as fundraisers throughout the year sponsored by Lambros agents, non-agent staff members and REMG staff members.

Austin said the amount of money the foundation has been able to give out has been trending upward.

Last year, it distributed more than $10,000 in funds, and will be putting $15,000 toward good causes in the community this year. She said part of the reason that has happened is because some of the funds raised come from commissions on home sales, and the real estate market has been continuing to improve over the years.

"And I love that our staff gives, too. It's not just agents out of their commission checks, it is also the staff giving out of their paychecks," she said.

In addition to the work done by the foundation, which specifically supports western Montana nonprofit agencies that provide food, clothing and shelter, Austin said Lambros as a company supports many other charitable causes.

"We don't just stop with our foundation. We can do things as a company, where we can help out families who are less fortunate," she said. "Agents and staff will bring in winter coats and boots, or a toy for a kid who isn't going to have Christmas otherwise."

Austin said real estate agents at Lambros form strong connections with the communities they live and work in, and tend to stick around in a town or city for a long time. She is a Missoula-based agent who grew up in Florence and does some work in the smaller communities around Missoula.

The importance of forming those local relationships is part of what makes the Lambros Community Foundation so rewarding, Austin said, because agents see firsthand the impact charitable causes are having on their community.

“Yes they're all part of this foundation that gives money, but I couldn’t begin to list all of the other things our agents are involved in,” Austin said.

Local agents, including those with Lambros, also pitch in to help with the Missoula Organization of Realtors' MOR4Kids project, which was started in 2011 to provide assistance to students in the kindergarten through eighth grades across Missoula County. So far, that group has provided more than $23,000 in aid.

“Many of the kids are homeless, and what they really require is the more basic needs, like clothing,” Austin said.

It isn't just nonprofits in the bigger cities that benefit from the Lambros Community Foundation. Austin said over the years it has made donations into smaller communities in western Montana, including Libby, Stevensville and Hamilton.

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Law and Justice Reporter

Crime reporter for the Missoulian.