In 2006, L & M Machining & Manufacturing, Inc. started a food and fund drive in honor of Gleaners called “Fill the Skids, Feed the Kids.” Skids are large metal tubs that collect nuts and bolts that L & M manufactures for the auto industry. The company’s owner Larry Morath thought the drive would be a fun challenge for his staff, and a way for L & M to give back to the community. His employees and customers went well beyond the call, overflowing the skids with food for those in need. At the end of the drive, a semi-truck was needed to haul the donated food to Gleaners. “Back then, L & M was doing really well,” said Director of Technical Services Jeff Swoish. “Larry came to us with the food and fund drive idea. He wanted to do something to honor his father.”
Larry’s father was an orphan who came to Detroit from Germany during WWII. “All he wanted us to have was good food, good shoes, and a good education—things that he missed when he was younger,” said Larry. “He remembered through his whole life certain people in downtown Detroit who helped him out. That’s what I’m trying to do—to not forget.”
With the drive’s initial success, Jeff took the reins and made the drive even bigger. Partners and customers began to contribute, even during the recession. “It’s meaningful for us that the impact is local. In 2008, times were bad, and there were people struggling to eat a decent meal,” said Jeff. “But even when times are good, there are still people going hungry.”
Over the years, L & M’s drive has grown to involve more than 20 local businesses. This past holiday season was the 13th year of the “Fill the Skids, Feed the Kids” event. Since 2006, the annual event has donated more than $681,235 and 55,558 pounds of food to Gleaners. By involving their suppliers, employees, and customers, L & M is involving a powerful group in its mission to help a common cause. Gleaners is grateful to have such an inspiring partner who is making a tremendous impact in the fight against hunger.
“It’s one thing to talk about giving back, and it’s another thing to motivate other people to give back,” said Larry. “That’s where the power is.”