Hoosier Energy saw 25% of its workforce participate in the first-ever Community Impact Week from April 17-21.
More than 70 employees contributed to a variety of projects running Monday through Friday.
The week started with Backpack Buddies, a program that puts together bags of food for low-income children to take home on the weekends via Community Kitchen. There were a few hiccups to start. Initially, there were plenty of supplies but not enough help. That eventually reversed itself as more help arrived but supplies ran low, necessitating a Ramen run to the grocery store. When the missing Ramen arrived, it was like bees on honey or ants at a picnic as volunteers swarmed to finish off the bags and tie them before being loaded into a trailer for transport. In all, over 400 backpacks were prepared.
“We are so grateful for community partner Hoosier Energy!” Community Kitchen posted on Facebook. “Thank you so much for your impact on our community! Recently, Hoosier Energy purchased all the foods necessary for 400 Backpack Buddies bags, and then their employees packed all of the bags. They assembled a meal kit of chicken, ramen and vegetables and then added breakfast, fruit and other items to the bags to complete the process for the week.”
Tuesday was a prep day, as employees were encouraged to sign up for the Red Cross blood drive set to take place at Hoosier Energy on April 26. Nearly two dozen employees donated blood with only one reportedly passing out, helping the Red Cross contribute to more than 2,500 hospitals and transfusion centers across the country.
It was back to work on Wednesday at Hoosier Hills Food Bank. Nearly 15 employees formed an assembly line to fill boxes for the Commodity Supplemental Food Program (CSFP), which aims to help low-income individuals aged 60 and over. Seniors get two boxes of food and two blocks of cheese every other month. The CSFP provides more than 1,000 boxes per month with a waiting list for more throughout Brown, Lawrence and Monroe counties.
Hoosier Energy put together over 200 boxes with cereal, tomato juice, canned chicken, pasta, canned vegetables and more, averaging close to two boxes a minute before supplies ran out.
Unable to pack more boxes, volunteers spent their remaining time folding and stapling mailers for the U.S. Postal Service’s Stamp Out Hunger Program, which benefits Hoosier Hills Food Bank locally, and takes place on May 13.
“That was a lot of fun, and we had a really good group,” Hoosier Energy Key Accounts Manager Mike Owens said.
Wednesday was also the first of two days working with Monroe County Habitat for Humanity. A total of 20 employees were split into two teams, one working Wednesday and the other Thursday.
The Wednesday crew completed the framing of interior walls, secured house wrap and made sure all nails were in place while also getting to meet the future owners, Cornelius and Jolene.
“We’re enormously grateful for the many Hoosier Energy hands that showed up for (Wednesday)’s build and we’re so proud to be part of such a generous community,” Habitat posted to Facebook. “It’s true – many hands make light work and it’s countless community partners like you who make what we do possible.”
It wasn’t just Habitat that reaped the benefits.
“Meeting Cornelius and hearing about all his work with kids, how he is teaching them chess, was a person I’m glad I got to know,” said Ryan Pankiewicz, Real Estate Specialist. “We had a great team from Hoosier and I had the chance to meet some folks I had not met previously. The staff and volunteers at Habitat were great to get to know and super educational.”
The Thursday crew followed up by setting the trusses in place and securing decking to the roof.
“We are enormously grateful for volunteers like Hoosier Energy who believe in the power of affordable homeownership to transform lives and improve our community,” Habitat posted while also sharing Hoosier’s own drone video of the work.
It went both ways, even if keeping track of everyone’s name got complicated.
“I felt that we got a lot accomplished in the short time that we were there,” said Fuels Manager Shane Skinner, who was also known as Shawn for the day. “Thank you all for helping and donating your time to a great organization that’s helping others.”
The week was capped off by Fill the Truck Friday. Hoosier Energy employees donated over 1,200 pounds of goods such as non-perishable food items, hygiene items, baby items and cleaning products that were provided to the Salvation Army and Monroe County United Ministries.
“It is untold how many families were truly helped by our giving and sacrifices,” said Hoosier Energy’s Trina Pardue, who coordinated the events. “Employees pulled together and showed that they are truly givers – givers of charity, givers of time and givers of love.”