Don Pitz, volunteer manager at Food & Friends, says his job is easy — on only one day of the year. He is tasked with beefing up the meal distribution charity with manpower everyday to get 3,800 meals to people around the region who are chronically ill.
With only four chefs on staff, he said volunteers are essential.
“They’re not just the icing. They are the cake,” Pitz said.
Last week, the charity got a boost from a group of corporate volunteers who know a little something about delivering.
Nearly 50 FedEx employees stepped away from business logistics to package and drop off meals to those in need.
Clad in purple shirts, the employees from the company’s various offices scooped salad in containers, sorted and packaged diet-specific meals and went on routes to hand food to the clients.
The company also donated $30,000 to the charity to buy a new vehicle.
“One thing I can say about FedEx is that they work really fast,” Pitz said.
But for the world’s largest express air delivery company, some of its employees were stunned when meeting the recipients of these deliveries.
“It was very eye-opening,” said Keithon L. Roberts, a manager at FedEx. “One person was incapacitated and it took them 15 minutes to come to the door … Once you see the capacity they are living in, it makes you want to do more.”
For others, such as Matthew Keifer, it was a chance to reflect on his own life.
“It was a flashback to what was coming to my front door as a kid, but this was more robust than what we were used to,” said Keifer, an account manager. “I went home and talked to my wife about how fortunate our kids are. We both come from a single parent home. These are things that my kids don’t understand.”
The event was part of the eighth annual company-wide FedEx Cares Week. Nearly 4,000 employees spent more than 20,000 hours on such projects as building transitional housing in Latin America, refurbishing a playground in Colorado, collecting clothes for homeless youth in the Czech Republic, cleaning a park in China and storing donations at a food bank in Indiana.
Like many corporations over the past 10 years, FedEx officials said it aligned its giving programs with its business operations, and has decided to focus on disaster relief, education and the environment.
“We did some focus groups and asked ourselves what is our corporation good at and how can we take those strengths and our people and use that to help our community,” said Rose Flenorl, FedEx’s manager of social responsibility.
The program also encourages its office markets to forge partnerships with local charities.
FedEx employees in the Washington region also hold other service days at Food & Friends.
“These aren’t corporations. These are companies that employ individuals,” said Craig Shniderman, Food & Friends’ executive director. “It’s important to create relationships with the representatives and volunteers of the company.”
Other corporate partners include Marriott and Lockheed Martin.