Every two years Travel and Transport participates in the Food Bank for the Heartland’s Strike Out Hunger campaign. This year I had the pleasure of serving as co-chair on the committee with our Director of Marketing and Inside Sales, Chantel Windeshausen, as well as Executive Vice President and CIO, Michael Kubasik, who is on the Board of Directors for the Food Bank.
I have only been with the company for a year, so this was my first opportunity to volunteer time to a wonderful cause and work side by side with fellow employees I typically am not able to interact with on a daily basis.
As an employee-owned company we, the employees, are the foundation for our company’s success and there is no better way to strengthen our bond than by taking care of the community for which we all share a passion. During the campaign, our Omaha and Lincoln offices formed two teams that raised money for each city’s food bank. Despite being two separate teams, our final office totals counted toward the entire Travel and Transport donation, which joined us together as a collective whole.
To encourage employee involvement, both offices joined forces to form a committee of volunteers dedicated to the cause. We held bi-weekly conference calls in order to discuss activities that would encourage everyone to donate and participate. Our goal was to raise awareness about hunger issues in Nebraska and promote involvement within our company for a good cause.
Our first event was a bake sale. As simplistic as this approach may sound, we have a passion for sweets in our company and many talented bakers among us. To pull off the event we had to recruit employees to donate a baked good, form a team to run the event and advertise throughout the building to bring in traffic. On the day of the sale, we filled five tables with donated baked goods and within an hour, narrowed the selection down to one table. Thanks to the tasty treats that were graciously donated and the good will of our volunteers and “customers” over $600 was raised for the Strike Out Hunger campaign through this event.
We didn’t stop at the bake sale, however. The company was buzzing with excitement and we decided to hold a weekly event to keep everyone’s interest piqued through the month long competition. During the second week we chose a list of nonperishable items the food bank needed most and set up boxes for employees to fill. From Mac and Cheese Monday to Fruit Snack Friday, we collected over 160 pounds of food in a week’s time.
While I helped plan the final two events alongside our incredible team of committee members, I was unable to attend both due to having an unexpected knee surgery.
On the day of my surgery we hosted a cookout for the entire building with hamburgers, brats, cookies, chips and drinks. Travel and Transport donated the food so all proceeds could go toward the Strike Out Hunger campaign.
Even though I was not able to enjoy the delicious grilling of Jim Winterscheid and Tim Krueger, I have a memory that I will never forget. Two days leading up to the cookout, fellow co-chair Chantel and I were in charge of going to the store and buying all the fixings. This included over 40 packages of buns, 16 packages of cookies, 200 bags of chips, 200 slices of cheese and economy sized ketchup, mustard and relish. To top off the list, we had less than 30 minutes to shop before Chantel needed to be back for a meeting. Did I mention I was on crutches? Yes, I crutched around the store like it was a marathon. We made it out of the store in record time and from what I hear, the cookout was a blast, the weather was beautiful, and everyone was able to take a break out of their busy day to support the cause.
Moments like the one I described above were plentiful during this experience. I formed friendships with coworkers and was introduced to faces at events I had never met before. I learned how giving my fellow employees are and how willing they are to go above and beyond to make something happen. The work ethic that shined through each volunteer is exactly what I see in the office each day.
My biggest regret through this entire experience? Missing our final event, the Waffle and Sausage Breakfast and Raffle. Twice a year, our Vice President of Human Resources, Jim Winterscheid, and his wife cook waffles and sausage for the Omaha office as a thank you to employees for their hard work. He supplied the breakfast once again, but we provided a raffle of fun prizes donated from other awesome members in the company. Even though I was sad I missed out on an infamous Winterscheid waffle, I am proud to know my coworkers banded together to have our most successful event yet, raising over $1800 to strike out hunger.
I have never seen a group of people so eager to team together and help the community. I learned that being an employee-owner means looking beyond myself and making every accomplishment a team accomplishment. It took 18 committee members between the Omaha and Lincoln offices, two co-chairs, over 300 employees and a whole lot of heart and dedication to raise $5,227 (16,026 meals) for the Food Bank for the Heartland’s Strike Out Hunger campaign. I look forward to our next philanthropic activity so I can see the passion and drive of my coworkers come to life beyond the office again.