Over 2,500 nonperishable food items will be donated to a local food pantry.
As COVID-19 continues to impact our communities, many families are facing ongoing job losses, wage cuts, and food insecurity. According to a recent survey from The Hamilton Project, overall food insecurity has doubled in the U.S. due to the pandemic. Last month, Smith’s Houston-based employees participated in a virtual food donation drive to help community members in need.
Participants formed teams to collect nonperishable items for the food pantry run by Houston’s First Baptist Church. In an effort to reduce opportunities for transmission of the novel coronavirus, the competition went virtual. Participants ordered shelf-stable food items through delivery services like Amazon Prime and Instacart and had them delivered directly to our distribution center in Houston.
“We wanted to find a way to address the needs of our Houston community while making sure we weren’t putting our employees at risk,” said Charlee Wallace, Executive Assistant at Smith. “The virtual food drive was a great way to help us accomplish both of these goals.”
At the end of the challenge, winning team EXCEL-erators edged out its competitors and collected 647 items. Co-founders Bob and Lee Ackerley matched the winning team’s donation, bringing the grand total to 2,582 items collected by all teams.
“The challenge didn’t feel like a competition,” said Cynthia Paz, Credit Analyst at Smith and EXCEL-erators team member. “I saw unity, kindness, and caring from my coworkers as we worked together to help people in need.”
Before the pandemic, Houston’s First Baptist Church provided food and clothing for approximately 1,400 individuals from 400 families each month. Since its onset, the community’s needs have drastically increased. Last month, the organization served 12,321 individuals from 2,923 families.
“Smith makes it so easy to help our community in a variety of ways,” said Harriet Leavell, Smith’s Tax Manager and fellow EXCEL-erators teammate. “The playful rivalry between teams was fun as we ‘competed’ to help a good cause, and, at the end, everyone wins!”
Smith’s Chief Financial Officer and EXCEL-erators team captain, Mike Weaber, said the combined effort from all participants was encouraging.
“We came together as a team to strengthen our community,” he said. “Expanding our impact by working together during these difficult times has been rewarding.”