Two groups of 3Mers in Austin have ensured that some neighbors in need will not go hungry this holiday season. Austin Plant and ESD both held food drives prior to Thanksgiving in an effort to feed low-income senior citizens and developmentally disabled people. After taking a break from its annual food drive last year, Austin Plant employees resumed this year with zeal. This year’s food drive benefited Family Eldercare, a non-profit agency that provides essential services for elders, adults with disabilities and those who care for them. Plant employees donated 1,171 pounds of food and $561 in HEB gift cards in just eight days.
Considering that the plant employs approximately 100 people, the effort was phenomenal. Zelda Laitinen, plant representative, Austin HR, said plant employees were inspired to help Family Eldercare after hearing a presentation by Pat Anthony, a Family Eldercare staff member who spoke at the plant during the United Way campaign.
“Many of our employees have elderly parents,” said Laitinen. “We wanted to learn more about elder-care services and resources, and at the same time help support Family Eldercare and our community.”
Many of Family Eldercare’s clients survive on low incomes and don’t get enough to eat. The agency collects non-perishable food donations and distributes through a food pantry or delivers it to the homes of homebound clients. Gail Sulak, EAP professional for Austin Center and Austin Plant, is president of the Family Eldercare board of directors. She had planned on picking up the donated food and delivering it herself to Family Eldercare. As it turned out, her car wasn’t big enough. The agency had to send an employee with a pickup truck. The donated food completely filled the truck’s bed.
“I was overwhelmed by it,” Sulak said “My guess is that it’s enough food to carry us through the holidays and well into the spring. Austin Plant employees went further than we ever dreamed. I definitely want to thank them on behalf of Family Eldercare and our clients. “ The plant provided not only quantity but also quality. Working from a list provided by Family Eldercare, plant employees delivered just what was needed.
“What was so helpful is that 3M provided exactly the kind of food our clients need,” said Karen Langley, executive director, Family Eldercare. ESD collected food for the Arc of the Capital Area as part of the division’s ongoing effort to help the agency. The Arc is a non-profit organization committed to promoting independence and choice by providing individualized services to adults and children with developmental disabilities.
ESD gathered enough food for about two complete Thanksgiving dinners plus some generous cash donations to purchase additional food. During this year’s United Way campaign, 20 ESD employees volunteered at the Arc of the Capital Area facility for the United Way Day of Caring event. ESD employees will continue to volunteer for the Arc on a quarterly basis throughout 2008, said Leary Walker, quality systems administrator, ESD, and the division’s 2007 United Way campaign champion. “We’re doing our very best to continue our support of the Arc throughout this year,” Walker said. “It’s a wonderful organization providing a very valuable service for our community.”