Many of us volunteer in different ways for organizations we are involved with or to help people we care about. I have coached my daughter’s YMCA soccer team, chaperoned my son’s field trips, and ran a station at every Field Day for my kids’ school. How often do we volunteer or help somewhere not directly related to us? According to the US Census Bureau, Montana is 9th in the country for formal volunteering with 31.1% of the population participating. Edulog decided that we wanted to join in on this.
Once a month, the Missoula Food Bank gets 100 volunteers together to make up EmPower Packs. These packs are given out at 20 different meal sites throughout the county to children who experience chronic hunger over the weekends. Each pack includes 2 breakfasts, 3-4 entrees, snacks, fruit and milk. At the Food Bank, the non-perishable items are put in bags and packed into boxes to be delivered. The administrators at the local sites add the fruit and milk right before handing them out on Fridays before children go home for the weekend.
On Friday January 17th, several of our employees and their family members came out on a cold night after work to help. We arranged ourselves in 8 different packing assembly lines, a couple of re-stockers, and a few pallet jack drivers. I was positioned as a re-stocker. I opened boxes and removed plastic wrap from the items on pallets. When an assembly line was running low on an item, they would call it out and a re-stocker would bring it over to that assembly line. Let me tell you, that was a full-time work out for the 2 hours we were there. My 9-year-old daughter came along with me. She was at the end of one of the assembly lines, with our CEO Sam Bull at the start. She tied off the bags when they were complete, put 6 bags in each box and made sure the pallets were not stacked more than 8 boxes high. Overall that night, the group put together 5000 EmPower packs to help hungry local kids.
It was definitely tiring after a full day at work, but I felt ten feet tall by the time we were done. We were giving back to the community, while also getting to know our Edulog family better as well. There were lots of smiles and conversations beyond school bus routing. I learned that Arika and her husband like snowboarding, but J.D. prefers skiing, and Tyler has 4 kids (who get tired quickly just like mine).
At the end of the night, on the way to our car, my daughter asked me if we could do that again next Friday. She thought it was a fun night and liked meeting some of the work teammates she hears me talk about. There are children in her class that receive EmPower packs every Friday and she loved being a part of helping to provide them for classmates in need. She caught the volunteer bug, and we are both looking forward to helping again next month.
As we engage in future volunteer events, I hope to see more of my Edulog co-workers participate, and to get the opportunity to know their family members as well. I feel the more we do together, both at and outside of work, the more efficiently we will work as a team to build a better Edulog.
Following are a few quotes from other Edulog team members who participated:
“I thought the food bank event was really fun. We should do it again. One great thing about it was that they were really good about putting people to work efficiently. You definitely felt like you were being well utilized and the tasks lent themselves to teamwork.”
“I had a good sense of accomplishment, afterwards I was tired and slept well! I enjoyed that I got to know Sam and Lam’s son also. We worked side by side stacking boxes on pallets.”
“We had a blast! We (Edulog staff) were spread out, but in our assigned areas there was great interaction between all of us. Lots of joking around while doing the packaging. Good team cooperation! It was nice having everyone’s kids there, too! Generally, they all seemed to have a good time helping the adults. It was a good bonding experience for coworkers. It was quite nice.”