At the beginning of 2020 Harris Local Government kicked off HLG Gives, a corporate citizenship program dedicated to giving back – spending some of our time and talents in charitable or community-driven efforts on a local, national or global scale. “Goodness ambassadors” (volunteers) in each office organize and encourage colleagues to make an impact in their local communities. Harris Local Government matches employee donations for all initiatives.
With the onset of COVID-19, where most people started working from home full time, we needed to retool and rework how we handled the HLG Gives program. In an effort to continue with local impact, we have sought to engage all staff members to focus on one regional office per quarter.
First Quarter Challenge: Fuel the Front Line – Niagara Falls, NY
In February of 2021, the goodness ambassadors submitted nominations for their chosen local charity. To start, we focused on the Buffalo/Niagara area with Joe LaBuda’s call to support Fuel the Front Line – Quinn Flaherty’s Eagle Scout project. Quinn sought to help local restaurants by working with them to prepare meals for front-line workers. Harris Local Government donated $1,255 and had a positive impact on front-line workers at Roswell Park Cancer Institute. HLG also supported a local restaurant, which was still under COVID restrictions, as well as Quinn in her efforts to become one of the first female Eagle Scouts.
Second Quarter Challenge: Spring Cleanup – Ebensburg, PA
On Earth Day, we kicked off a Spring Cleanup challenge. Between April 22 and May 10, we challenged ourselves to see how many bags, boxes or bins we could fill with items to donate, recycle or remove from the environment! HLG staff could participate using some of the eight hours we receive annually for volunteering. Other options included cleaning out your closet, cleaning up outdoors or planning a tree in honor of Arbor day. The results:
- 5 bags of clothes donated
- 35 bags of garbage gathered
- 2 trees planted
Our Ebensburg, PA office led the way with 35 bags of trash plus one toilet collected in the area business park. We shared information and ideas of where folks could take their donations. The U.S. generates an average of 21 billion pounds of textile waste per year, but doing our part to make sure these fibers are recycled through reuse or true recycling efforts we can help divert it from our local landfills.
Third Quarter Challenge: The Dream Center – Easley, SC
Next up: we exceeded our $1,000 goal in raising funds for The Dream Center in Easley, SC. The Dream Center “offers emergency assistance to those in crisis, but the primary focus is to encourage, educate and empower people with a hand up instead of a hand out.”
Ruth Niermeyer shared her experience touring and volunteering at the Dream Center: “After we finished serving and cleanup, we were given a quick tour of the then-unfinished area you see below. These small homes provide a bridge from homelessness to independence for people who need that support. The Dream Center provides one–year programs to give individuals a chance – to learn, to work and to thrive.”
Because of our staff’s generosity, HLG is sponsoring the annual “Dream Big” event in November. The event provides an opportunity to share stories of how the center has impacted the lives of so many. Pre-pandemic, the HLG team in the Easley office has often prepared breakfast for Dream Center’s orientation program. The center has a number of projects to assist the homeless and fulfill other needs in Pickens County, SC. These projects include a collection of tiny homes coined “Opportunity Village;” classes; crisis intervention; Santa shoppe assistance; project S.E.W.; as well as open gym and other services.
Fourth Quarter Challenge: Share the Warmth – Ebensburg, PA
Our final challenge for this year will be the Share the Warmth project focused on the Ebensburg, Pennsylvania office. Ebensburg is the only office which has maintained an individual campaign throughout the pandemic and has truly shown us all how to be amazing corporate citizens. Kimberly Burkett has taken on the leadership role in Ebensburg to keep staff focused on each effort they have made locally. So far, employees have raised more than $1,000 in winter wear donations with a $1,000 match from corporate. Below
“I have been moved greatly by the steadfast and generous contributions the Ebensburg team has made to their community in the name of HLG. I want to share this inspiring story with you, from last year’s drive. In 2020 Kim Burkett led the Ebensburg team in donating close to $650 in new winter weather gear as well as several boxes of gently used items. This made the local paper; the kindness and generosity of the Ebensburg team truly shined for all to see.
“Kim was driving down Route 22 on her way to work when she spotted the Cambridge Ebensburg sign; she’d been searching for a winter project the company could dig into.
‘We look for ways to give back and we like to help local groups,’ Kim said. ‘When I found out the clothing drive benefited the Johnstown Women’s Help Center, I knew we had to get involved.’
“Kim collected cash donations from fellow employees and soon she was off to Sam’s Club with cash in hand for new coats. At home, she scoured the web for the best deals. ‘We were able to get some really high quality, really nice coats,’ Kim proudly explains.
During the second annual warm winter wear drive, donations will again be directed to the Johnstown Women’s Shelter and the Ebensburg Clergy Support Group/Salvation Army.
HLG Gives plans to run strong again in 2022 with quarterly challenges and expanding our reach in the communities of four additional HLG regional offices.