As exception services manager at Merkle RMG, I’m proud to be part of a corporate culture that supports its community year round. At Christmas, the company participates in the Salvation Army’s Angel Tree program. Every summer, we hold a food drive to feed Maryland children who don’t have access to their schools’ free meal programs over summer break. And with fall fast approaching, we recently came together to help a local church collect school supplies for needy children throughout Washington County, Maryland, where our facility is located.
The Need is Real
Many families in Merkle RMG’s local community are in dire need. The Washington County Community Action Council recently reported that from July 1, 2016 to June 30, 2017, 179 children under the age of 18 were staying in homeless shelters in our county. On January 24, 2017, it was found that 14 households with 24 children were residing in an emergency shelter that night, and one household with one child was unsheltered — meaning that they were staying in cars, abandoned buildings or other places not meant for human habitation. Naturally, those kids will be starting school again this fall. But for families struggling to keep a roof over their heads, buying even the most basic school supplies is a luxury they can’t afford.
How We Got Involved
I first learned about the school supply drive from Mandilee Blue, who works on my team. She told me that her church, Hub City Vineyard, was holding a “book bag drive” to help local K-12 students whose families couldn’t afford to buy essential school supplies for the new school year. Church volunteers were seeking donations like notebooks, pencils, folders, markers and other items that they would pack into brand new book bags and distribute to local families.
Children are near and dear to my heart! So when Mandi asked if we could get Merkle RMG employees involved, I couldn’t say no. I ran the idea by our president, Bill Sayre, and of course he gave us the green light to spread the word. Merkle RMG participated in a similar program last year for the American Legion, so I knew this was an issue we stood behind as a company.
To raise awareness, we designed a flyer that we emailed company-wide and posted on the Merkle RMG Facebook page. Between Monday, July 31 and Friday, August 11, Merkle RMG employees dropped off donated items in Merkle RMG’s media center. Some employees chose to give monetary donations, which we used to buy additional supplies.
We delivered the supplies to the local church on August 11. On August 19, church volunteers spent hours packing thousands of supplies into backpacks that would be provided to local kids in need. Thanks to generous donations from Merkle RMG employees and other community members, the church was able to fill 1,049 backpacks. Within just a few days, the church distributed more than 650 of them, and that number continues to grow as more families in need get their kids ready for the start of school.
Caring for the Community
When Merkle RMG participates in a charitable mission, it’s often the idea of an employee who is personally connected to the cause. As a company, Merkle RMG is eager to back the causes its employees care about, and it actively supports its employees’ efforts to do social good outside of work. That shows me that not only does Merkle RMG care about my professional development, but my personal development as well. It also shows that the company isn’t solely focused on making the next dollar — it aims to ensure the community as a whole is taken care of.