Thanksgiving is a time for giving and for Sue McGinnis, a designer at Southern California Edison (SCE), and her husband, Tim, it’s something they take to heart. For the past three years, the couple has helped package food boxes for the needy at the Orange County Food Bank.
“I have volunteered at this event for the past three years,” said Sue. “My husband and I feel that this is a worthy event because it serves so many people. For anyone to go hungry in this country is a travesty.”
Among the counties in California, Orange County ranks second in food insecurity (52.4 percent), according to Mark Lowry, program director of the Orange County Food Bank. This translates to roughly 400,000 people struggling with hunger in Orange County and means that one in every five children is at risk of hunger, monthly.
To help address this need, the food bank (a program of the Community Action Partnership of Orange County, a community-based nonprofit) packages 26,000 boxes of food each month for distribution to 50 sites across Orange County. And the assistance in packaging the boxes comes from volunteers who help year-round and on National Family Volunteer Day.
On the 10th anniversary of Volunteer Day, the McGinnises were joined by other SCE and Edison International employees and their families and friends as part of Edison’s team to package boxes that will help families in need this Thanksgiving. The boxes, which contain items such as canned goods, rice, peanut butter, milk, cereal and fruit juice, will be distributed this week.
Several other organizations, including Wells Fargo, one of SCE’s key business customers, also had a team of volunteers. Virginia DePaola, a senior analyst at Wells Fargo, said the event is very popular with her co-workers because they know it benefits those in need.
“The food bank is a favorite for our employee volunteers,” she said. “This is a very important event for our community. The boxes we pack at this event helps feed low-income families and senior citizens.”
Lowry is glad companies with large workforces, such as Edison and Wells Fargo, respond regularly to the call for help since there is an increased need for assistance in preparing food boxes during the Thanksgiving and holiday season.
“Edison International and Wells Fargo are great corporate partners. They help in so many ways, providing grants, leadership and promoting our organizations to foundations and other companies,” he said. “Because they get their employees involved, we become connected to the heart and soul of the companies.”
Caroline Choi, SCE vice president of Energy and Environmental Policy, said the culture of giving back is very much alive at Edison.
“Our employees have embraced this culture of giving and have contributed their time to a variety of nonprofit organizations, including the Orange County Food Bank, and other causes that benefit children, the elderly, veterans, disabled and low-income families,” she said. “Last year, our employees volunteered 281,112 hours, worth an estimated $6.2 million, to a variety of community projects.”
Gary Smith, Wells Fargo vice president/business banking manager, who brought his family to the event, said Wells Fargo is serious about giving back to the community.
“Giving back to the community is not something taken lightly at Wells Fargo and it is an important part of being a Wells Fargo team member,” said Smith, who is also a board member of the Orange County Food Bank. “It is part of our DNA. This is a great event and we get to work with team members outside of our normal work environment for the good of others.”
The 34,887 boxes the volunteers recently packaged are already reaching families in need. By Thanksgiving, more than 4,200 families will have been helped.
“Volunteerism is very important to ending hunger,” said Lowry. “It is important because at the end of their shift, these volunteers know they worked hard to pack those boxes of food that will feed a family or senior. They are sending hope and love with each box.”