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LAVIDGE IMPACT Volunteers Line Up to Fill Shopping Carts at Phoenix Rescue Mission
Phoenix-based ad agency contributes 25 FTE hours to local food bank
PHOENIX (Feb. 19, 2021) –Giving back has become second nature for LAVIDGE employees who frequently provide community service through IMPACT, the Phoenix-ad agency’s employee volunteer program.
On Friday, LAVIDGIANs from across the agency gathered at Phoenix Rescue Mission’s Hope for Hunger facility in Glendale where one can arrive empty-handed and leave with a basket filled with fresh groceries.
Hope for Hunger currently serves each household with the same amount of food, regardless of size. Prior to COVID-19, a household of five or more people would receive an extra bag of food. And they served 150 to 180 households on a typical day. In April and May of last year, that exploded into serving more than 400 households per day. After that, the non-profit agency has served an average of about 200 to 230 households per day.
“Normally, we do client intakes face-to-face in the lobby,” said Danny Dahm, mission sharing coordinator. “Once completed, they would push their own cart into the warehouse and engage with the volunteers. This strategy gets everyone involved in the lives of our clients and at the same time lets the client have some freedom of choosing what they want instead of getting what they get.”
“Huge households, we would try and double-up on them if possible,” Dahm said.
On the day IMPACT volunteers served, participants wearing gloves and face masks made selections on their behalf, providing each cart with the same—or as reasonably similar as possible—assortment of foods.
The first stop along the assembly line was with Diversity and Public Service Marketing Director Alec Esteban Thomson, who filled plastic grocery bags with a half-dozen or so yellow grapefruit. Senior Content Developer/Writer RuthAnn Hogue supplied him with a steady stream of opened bags to fill in-between lending a hand to Media Director Betsey Griffin-Jones and Public Relations Account Coordinator Miranda Faulkner whose table was next in line.
Hogue, Griffin-Jones and Faulkner each filled bags with three cans of fruit, three boxes of Rice-a-Roni and three packages of pasta. Some bags included single-servings of pre-made macaroni while others contained boxes of dry spaghetti, linguini or elbow macaroni. From there, they passed each bag along to the next packing station along the horseshoe-shaped assembly line.
That’s where Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer Alicia Wadas pitched in, along with Sasha Knock, the agency’s videographer and editor. Together, they topped off each plastic bag with a variety of healthy and sweetened snacks, saving four individual-serving bags of chips for last.“LAVIDGE IMPACT gives us the opportunity to serve others,” Wadas said. “Phoenix Rescue Mission is a worthy organization, and our time working at the food bank was heartwarming and fun.”
Executive Vice President/Chief Financial Officer Sandra Torre, who also chairs LAVIDGE IMPACT, made sure each cart received a case each of pretzels and Rice Krispies puffed rice snacks, and several cans of grapefruit-flavored Bubly sparkling water.
Laurie Schnebly, a senior copywriter from the Creative side of the Phoenix-based ad agency, finished loading each shopping cart before sending them outside to waiting clients by selecting a variety of breads and desserts—which ranged from decorated sheet cakes to muffins, pastries, or a variety of other baked goods.
The availability of volunteers in recent months has been a bit unpredictable, aside from members of the Arizona National Guard who have become a staple at Arizona food banks since the Office of Arizona Governor Doug Ducey activated the guard for this purpose in March 2020.
“We have lost quite a few older volunteers that are worried about their health and COVID-19,” Dahm said. “I can’t say I blame them.”
As for volunteers from the community at large or corporate groups such as LAVIDGE IMPACT, “It goes up and down,” Dahm said. “It was very slow for volunteers and that’s why we called in the National Guard. Now it seems to be picking up again.”
Need, however, has done anything but waned—a reality that was not lost on Torre.
“Feeding the hungry has always been a top priority for LAVIDGE IMPACT,” Torre said. “We’re especially sensitive to the need now with so many struggling with job or income loss due to the pandemic.”
In the past few weeks things, however, requests for assistance have slowed down drastically to “around 120-ish,” Dahm said, adding that he believe this is due to a temporary financial boost for clients who have received a refund from their 2020 tax bill.
And that means that community need will likely rise again soon.
“We are very thankful you all came to serve,” Dahm said. “Volunteers are what keeps this place open, serving our community.”
For those who wish to get involved, Dahm said the greatest need at Phoenix Rescue Mission is always food.
“Honestly, the best way to help out is volunteering your time and/or sending in monetary donation to Hope for Hunger or Phoenix Rescue Mission.
Contact Hope for Hunger at (602) 773-4344 or [email protected] for information on how to support the West Valley food bank.