As caring Americans, we volunteer close to 6.9 billion hours of time annually, according to the 2018 Volunteering in America report. And many of us are drawn to activities that meet the basic needs of our fellow community members. In fact, more than one in three volunteers contribute time for food donation or meal preparation.
That’s not terribly surprising for Denise Leduc, director of community engagement at Gleaners Community Food Bank, who says that 57,000 Gleaners’ volunteer shifts were filled last year by compassionate people wanting to engage in hunger-relief work.
Of those volunteers, many are employee groups of 50 or more from area companies that include Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan, GTB, Magna, Quicken, Ford Motor Company, GM, FCA, and ITC Holdings Corp.
ITC has been a supporter of Gleaners – with grants, sponsorships and food drives – for more than a decade, but recently stepped up its impact by engaging employees on a larger scale.
Through its new Power of Caring initiative, ITC has expanded its charitable giving program to include employee volunteer activities at community agencies across its seven-state footprint. This includes bringing employees together for a local cause at a company-wide Power of Caring Volunteer Day.
In Michigan, Gleaners was honored to be the chosen charity that hosted 196 ITC employees and executives on two dates in September.
ITC volunteers pulled orders and packed produce in support of Gleaners’ mission. The organization chose Gleaners for its first all-company volunteer day because it wanted to make a big impact and partner with an organization that serves many Michiganders.
During the two-day period, ITC volunteers packed 6,600 pounds of zucchini and 12,750 pounds of potatoes. Additionally, they pulled 87,285 lbs. worth of orders for Gleaners’ partner agencies.
“The ITC volunteers worked hard and were clearly happy to be here contributing to Gleaners’ mission,” says Leduc. They managed more than 106,000 pounds of food, which equates to around 87,000 meals for people in need.
“Our one day of work added to Gleaners’ already impressive impact on the communities they support,” says ITC’s Bonnie Flowers. “When you think you don’t have time to be of any real benefit, just think back to what we accomplished in a few short hours. I’m still flabbergasted at what Gleaners does and so happy to have been a part of it.”
But the impact was about more than numbers for some ITC volunteers. For Holly McGlinn, volunteering at Gleaners reminds her that, despite the troublesome events of the world, good people are out there doing good things. “Volunteering at Gleaners is humbling, refreshing, soul searching and ego checking,” says McGlinn. “Volunteering at Gleaners is … uplifting if you want it and enriching if you embrace it.”
Annually, across the United States our volunteer hours are worth an estimated $167 billion in economic value (based on the Independent Sector’s estimate of the average value of a volunteer hour for 2017). We give a lot to help causes we care about.
Gleaners benefits greatly from volunteers who are in the warehouse five days a week, Tuesday-Saturday; the time they give is equal to that of 74 full-time employees.
Some people come as individuals or in small groups, while others come in large groups. Over the past year, 38 business groups scheduled volunteer shifts for 50 or more people. The impact they make is measurable and impactful.
Says Linda Apsey, president and CEO, ITC Holdings Corp., of ITC’s company-wide volunteer day:
“It’s events like today that bring to life the commitment to those we serve. It’s so important to remember that our focus on innovation and building the greater grid has lasting impact – not only on the value we provide to customers, but the lasting impact we are able to make in our communities.”
Your corporate volunteer group is welcome and needed, with opportunities available at Gleaners’ distribution centers in Detroit, Warren, Taylor, Pontiac and Howell. Learn more here.