On Friday, November 2, GSK employees in RTP took time to sort and bag 40,000 pounds of sweet potatoes, for families in need during the holiday season. This Orange Day event was in partnership with the Food Bank of Central and Eastern North Carolina. We affectionately called it "Sort-a-Rama."
The sweet potatoes were delivered to the ground floor of a parking garage on GSK's campus. We learned what makes a "good sweet potato."
Several hundred volunteers sorted and packaged enough to provide a bag of sweet potatoes to about 5,000 families for Thanksgiving. The potatoes that were discarded were not wasted, though--they were composted. (You can watch coverage of it on the local ABC affiliate here.)
In addition to the sweet potato sorting and bagging, we held two other events on Friday to help families in our community prepare for the holidays:
· GSK employees could drop off food in the morning as they drove onto campus for work. The food that was collected, as well as monetary donations given during Sort-a-Rama, will be donated to a new pilot program sponsored by the Food Bank--where social workers will make home deliveries to children who have limited access to food during school breaks. A total of 1,480 pounds of food was collected!
· November 2 was the national kick-off of the Marine's "Tots for Toys" program. We were privileged to have a Marine on campus collecting toys that employees donated. The focus was on gifts for children 12 to 16 years of age--an age range that is often overlooked during the holidays. At the end of the day, GSK employees had filled up three huge boxes full of toys, in addition to monetary gifts!
Although we had fun sorting and bagging sweet potatoes, it's important to keep mind the reason we did it. The fact is, there are people in our community who struggle to put food on the table, and the number has only grown with the recent economic downturn. This is especially sad for families with children, because poor school performance is linked to lack of such basics as food and shelter.
The day was a reminder of how fortunate I am, and how important it is to give back--and how lucky I am to work for a company that embraces this idea by giving employees opportunities to give back in meaningful way.