Bringing help to the community

May 11, 2021 Brad Perkins

Even before the pandemic hit, many people across the country were in need of food. Organizations like Gleaners Food Bank in Indiana worked across networks of food pantries, soup kitchens and shelters, partnering with organizations like Feeding America to reach those in need.

Staff Management | SMX Recruitment Operations Manager Heather Phelps has volunteered with Gleaners in several cities in Indiana over the past three years. She witnessed people lining up hours before the Gleaners semi would show up with food and wanted to help. As people waited, she would hand out Staff Management | SMX flyers, asking people to share with them anyone looking for work. Over time she began working with Gleaners leaders to pass out pantry bags to those in line.

“It was always inspiring and would lead to great conversations with the community and the leaders of the community,” she said.

But more importantly, the events fed nearly 700 families. And as COVID-19’s effects on economies and families worsened, those numbers increased. So despite the events being drive-through only, they still continued. And Phelps decided to get the Staff Management | SMX teams in Indiana more involved.

“I reached out to Gleaners and asked if Staff Management could host a semi in Columbus, Ind.,” she said. “I met Becky from Gleaners and, while she did not have a semi, she had 400 family meal boxes and needed help getting the food to those in need.”

Because the food was purchased through grant money it had to remain in the area, so they were concerned about the food going to waste. After a few weeks of searching, new recruiter Ally Caudill from Staff Management | SMX’s Seymour office secured a busy local church for the event, made flyers and gave a live radio interview broadcast on four local stations.  

They also put out yard signs and notified existing workers about the event. Phelps had a backup plan to deliver the food to homeless shelters if they didn’t have enough traffic, but that wasn’t a concern – the food was all gone in 2 ½ hours.

“We had so many people come join forces with us,” Phelps said. “We had an engineer from Cummins stop by and ask if he could help. He said, ‘I have lived and worked here many years and I have never witnessed anyone do this in our community.’

“We had a local AA meeting help load cars and a celebrity firefighter from the “The Biggest Loser” stopped by. Erin Deweese had him share our event on his Facebook page-where he has 10,000 followers. We had many people stop that didn't need food or a job so we recruited them to take food to their neighbors or someone that would need it.”

A manager of several local group homes took 15 meals to deliver to those who couldn’t get out to the event.

After the event, the team heard from the Gleaners manager who congratulated them on their success of feeding 400 families. They also hired four people for the local manufacturing client, even though that was not the focus of the day. Now, the other sites across Indiana are considering doing something similar and Phelps would like to see the momentum grow.

“I want to create these innovative approaches to launch in one area, but trend across other local sites,” Phelps said. “I would love to see this type of event trending nationwide. I am so grateful to work for a director and a company that believes in my dreams,” Phelps said. “The heart of Recruitment Operations is our community impact.”

About the Author

Writer. Photographer. Runner. World traveler. Sports fan. Proud left-hander.

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