The Hancock County Food Pantry in Greenfield, Ind., like many other food pantries across the country, has seen an increase in clients since COVID-19 hit. And like many others, the pantry, located 25 miles east of Indianapolis, searched for partnerships to better serve their communities.
Throughout the summer, the food pantry has hosted free milk events at the local fairgrounds in partnership with Prairie Farms. Heather Phelps, lead recruiter for Staff Management | SMX in Greenfield, was intrigued. She saw an opportunity not only to do good in her community, but also help connect people and work.
“I heard about it from a friend on Facebook, who said that she was going to volunteer for a free milk truck event, so I gave her Staff Management | SMX fliers to hand out.”
When she went to check out the August 4 event herself, she found opportunities that kickstarted her desire to help. That day, the food pantry had also partnered with Gleaners Food Bank to provide food for seniors.
“It was super busy. They had 300 cars and gave out 1300 gallons of milk that day,” she said.
So she arrived at a plan for a partnership.
“When Heather arrived at the event, she was immediately surprised by the amount of people that were there,” said Erin DeWeese, director of operations for Staff management | SMX in Indiana. “It was another example of connecting with the community and truly understanding the needs your community has. It was not surprising to me at all that there were cars lined up. So many people are facing hard times, with new struggles and everyone is feeling it in different ways. I was proud of her for being the boots on the ground and representing our commitment to the community so well.”
Phelps pulled into the fairgrounds, parked and opened the tailgate on her SUV, which she had decorated with Staff Management | SMX logos. She checked into the event on Facebook and people commented, then came over to talk to her. She ended up hiring someone who commented and they started at a local automotive manufacturer a few days later.
“One of our missions as a company is to connect people with work, but you cannot connect people that you do not know,” DeWeese said. “In order to be successful, we have to align ourselves with meaningful and contributing programs and seek out opportunities to volunteer and give back. We have to build our trust and communicate our commitment to our communities every time we have an opportunity.”
That trust helped Phelps connect with people at the event. And because she already had a relationship with the food pantry, where she’d often go to leave fliers about Staff Management | SMX and talk to people in the waiting area about job openings, she was able to do use that relationship to help others.
“We’re very connected to the Hancock County Food Pantry,” she said. “We have a small station inside the lobby where we leave referral cards and offer shopping bags to people waiting to go shopping, and we can hang up fliers and have business card holders. I talk to the people there and tell them, if you don’t need a job but know someone who does, take a look.”
But with no in-person meetings in recent months, those tactics took a hit. So the ability to talk to the free milk event organizers and arrange for a Staff Management | SMX table at the next event was key. And it all started with free milk offered to anyone in the community. Looking to help out even more, she took some milk to her local homeless shelter in the next county. And she added a small reward to it, too.
“I took free cookies, too, because who doesn't want cookies with milk?” she said.
Because of the success of the event, Staff Management | SMX also partnered with Prairie Farms to host an event in Seymour, Ind., on Aug. 25. That event helped give away 2500 gallons of milk to people in need across the area. Read more about that event.
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