Late last year, I had the pleasure of volunteering at Second Harvest Food Bank of Middle Tennessee as part of EnableComp’s Charitable Giving Committee, which is responsible for carrying out the company’s philanthropic mission. Second Harvest is a 501c3 nonprofit that works to provide food to people facing hunger in our community and to advance hunger solutions through research and education. Their central distribution center, the Martin Distribution Center, is located just north of downtown Nashville and is where donated, surplus food from grocery stores, farms, manufacturers, and individuals that would otherwise go to the landfill is inspected and sorted by volunteers like me. All the food is then dispersed to a network of more than 450 Partner Agencies including at-risk afterschool meal programs, soup kitchens and senior centers. With more than 1 million Tennesseans at risk of hunger every day, Second Harvest works hard to get food to those who need it most.
As soon as I entered their facility, I was a face in a crowd of strangers – other volunteers who had donated their time early on a Saturday morning – worried I had bitten off more than I could chew. However, any unease I initially felt quickly disappeared when I was warmly greeted by the staff. From there, I was assigned to something called “Cold Food Sorting” and with the other volunteers assigned to my group, was led through the massive warehouse, past rows and rows of industrial shelving, to a large door where we were then given a pair of thick working gloves. Our volunteer leader opened the door to reveal the facility’s walk-in freezer, which is kept at a chilly 40 degrees! In the center of the floor were two huge piles of packaged frozen goods – anything from TV dinners to whole chickens – which I soon learned we would be sorting through, weighing and packing onto pallets to be distributed throughout a 46-county service area. While it seemed like a daunting task at first, three hours quickly flew by! At the end of the shift, the two piles were completely cleared, and we had sorted over 4,000 pounds of food! This day has stuck with me – from the connections I made to the sense of purpose I felt.
Giving back is an incredibly rewarding experience that will enrich your life. Not only does it affect your emotional and mental wellbeing, but it is said that giving back is linked to lower blood pressure and improved heart health. Whether or not this is true, there is no doubt that charitable giving has many benefits; when you work with others for a good cause, you are exercising people skills, practicing patience and kindness, and making a difference in the world. In short, you can feel good about where you are spending your time and energy.
I am so happy to work for a company that encourages this sense of empowerment by supporting the communities in which we live and work. Year after year, EnableComp engages its employees through volunteerism and quarterly giving projects. For this year’s first quarter, in keeping with tradition, we chose to support Second Harvest by hosting a 5th annual company-wide food drive. Our staff was evenly divided into 9 teams who would compete to raise the most money, donation bins were placed at each of our office locations, and then we were cooking! The food drive began during the first full week of March (perfect to commemorate National Nutrition Month) and ran for three-and-a-half weeks. Donations trickled in slowly at first then gained momentum as we approached the finish line. Our teams worked hard to donate funds virtually, bring in canned goods, and raise awareness about the issue of hunger on social media. At the end of the drive, we were so excited to see the results:
- First Place Team: “No Pain No Grain” – $1,370 raised
- Second Place Team: “Eyes On The Pies” – $940 raised
- Third Place Team: “Ketchup If You Can” – $600 raised
- First Place Office: Franklin, TN – 87.4 lbs. of food donated
- Second Place Office: Tullahoma, TN – 68.3 lbs. of food donated
In total, EnableComp donated 155.7 lbs. of food and raised a whopping $4,770 in support of Second Harvest, which is enough to provide 19,080 meals for hungry people in this community! Amazing!
It is inspiring to work alongside others who also have a passion for making a local impact and helping those in need.
“Since starting our formal committee at EnableComp in 2017, we knew Second Harvest would be an incredible organization to work with right here in Middle Tennessee,” said Caley Lane, Co-Chair of the Charitable Giving Committee. “Over the last 5 years, we have been fortunate to partner with this organization while also engaging our employees in fun activities. We’ve had can building competitions, themed drives, and given awards to recognize team members who have made a difference. As the drive for remote work has continued, we’ve had to be creative in our efforts, and we are thrilled with the results for both our physical and virtual food drives that we launch concurrently. Although some of the aspects of our partnership have changed, it has been our goal over the last two years to continue the enthusiasm around Second Harvest’s mission and encourage a little healthy competition along the way.”
Now more than ever is the time to unite and engage our workforces, and corporate giving is a multifaceted approach that will leave everyone’s hands a little more full.