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Deb Damrell of Madison digs weeds on a prairie at Holy Wisdom Monastery in Middleton. She was one of the volunteers from Lands' End who worked on the prairie in June as part of the Take a Stake in the Lakes program.

When 180 Lands' End employees volunteered to participate in the 25th annual Take a Stake in the Lakes in early June, little did they know that some of them would be helping to clear a prairie of invasive weeds and trees, which in turn helps the lakes.

On June 1, 10 volunteers went to Holy Wisdom Monastery in Middleton to clear invasive weeds on a portion of the 138 acres of reclaimed prairie including four nature trails that are open to the public.

"Prairies help prevent soil erosion because of the deep root system. Since we are so close to the north shore of Lake Mendota, our prairie provides environmental protection for the lake," said Paul Boutwell, Holy Wisdom groundskeeper and restoration ecologist.

Kasey Mazzone, senior vice president of global sourcing at Lands' End, said, "It's nice to know that you are doing something that will help the broader Madison community. Our day at Holy Wisdom was very educational. The sisters and employees were so warm and appreciative of our support. They told us the story of the monastery and their commitment to the environment. Their commitment to building a green building and restoring the prairies was inspiring."

Lands' End, a Dodgeville-based fashion retailer, is part of Sears Holdings Corp.

"A lot of our employees, their families and friends use the Dane County lakes and rivers," said Lands' End spokesman Adam Sodersten. "Clean lakes are important to them, so it's important to the company. One of our strongest partnerships is with the Clean Lakes Alliance, which sponsors the Take a Stake in the Lakes event," he said.

This was the second year that Lands' End participated in the program and 35 more volunteers helped out this year compared with last year.

Lands' End employees volunteer in other projects such as providing assistance after earthquakes struck in Japan and Haiti. They have also built an entire house for Habitat for Humanity. Employees currently are collecting old denim jeans that will be converted into home insulation.

"Lands' End employees have always enjoyed giving back to their community," Sodersten said. "We know they get a good feeling out of accomplishing a task or making a difference. As a company, we do everything we can to present them with unique opportunities like Take a Stake in the Lakes where they can spend a day truly making a difference."

"Businesses that Volunteer" is an occasional feature in the State Journal. Contact Jill Carlson at jillcarlson1957@gmail.com to suggest a business to feature.

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