Written by Allison Hines and Kara Roberts
Over the last few weeks, we've shared stories of how SAS employees are banding together while staying apart during the COVID-19 crisis. Our people have donated their time and skills to the cause, including making masks for healthcare workers, leading virtual dance classes for students with special needs and hosting trivia games for charity via Zoom – among many other efforts. Keep reading for three more stories of how SAS employees are spreading compassion in their local communities.
A family affair
Marketing Manager Amanda and her daughters, Adelyn and Ava, have volunteered for years with Feed the Kids, an organization that provides weekend meals for food-insecure students in Western Wake and Northeast Chatham County schools. She’s always wanted to share a philanthropic responsibility with her daughters, so volunteering has become a regular part of their lives.
“From an early age, my daughters have taken some of their allowance and donations from neighbors to shop for the food, deliver it to the food pantry and then pack it up for families in need,” Amanda said.
With the pandemic and lockdowns in place, the organization is providing even more meals because students aren’t in school. Recently, Amanda’s family helped pack more than 100 bags of food for local families in her community. “It’s incredibly fulfilling to help others, especially families that are strained emotionally and financially,” Amanda said. “I feel very fortunate to have my job, so it’s the least I can do to help those that are struggling.”
Amanda also enjoys gardening and recently joined several of her neighbors in sharing plants from their gardens with anyone willing to donate to Dorcas Ministries and Western Wake Crisis Center.
“We dug up plants, bagged them and placed them six feet apart in the driveway,” she said. “Folks came by and picked them up and texted me a picture of their completed donation.” In one weekend, more than $250 was donated to these organizations.
Feeding the souls that are saving lives
Bess, a marketing manager here at SAS, has spent more time than most people at UNC Rex Hospital in Raleigh, North Carolina. Bess had two complicated births, landing her in the hospital for a week each time. She also was there for a bilateral mastectomy due to breast cancer in 2018 and three subsequent reconstruction surgeries.
Bess is currently recovering from her final reconstruction for breast cancer at Rex. “The doctors, nurses, and staff at Rex are amazing!” Bess said. “Even with COVID-19 – which had me entering the hospital alone where otherwise I would have my family with me – the protocol, the care, the kindness, everything was from the heart.”
This is why her participation with the Feed the Soul program means so much to her. “To be able to take lunch to these special people was an honor and the least I can do for all they are doing for others!” Bess said.
Feed the Soul was created by the North Carolina Healthcare Association (NCHA) partnering with local restaurants to provide meals to thank and comfort health care workers during the pandemic.
“The program needed volunteers who drive SUVs to deliver meals, so we said sure!” Bess said. “I didn’t know I would be paired with Rex. When the list for the week went out and it had me at Rex right before my final surgery, it just felt, well, divine. I’ll admit, I teared up.”
So far, the Feed the Soul program has raised close to $140,000 and donated more than 16,000 meals for health care workers. Watch this Feed the Soul promotional video which explains the program and features Bess.
Bess said that even though current times are wild, she hopes the way people are coming together never stops. “We wanted to support our friends and community, and Feed the Soul gave us a way to make some special people’s lunch a little brighter,” Bess said. “It’s just an incredibly simple way to show your support to the people who are risking their lives to help save other people.”
Using SAS Global Forum supplies for good
With SAS® Global Forum 2020 transitioning from an in-person event to a virtual event because of COVID-19 precautions, many supplies for the event had already been purchased, but would go unused, if not for some big-hearted employees.
Although some cleaning supplies had already been purchased for The Quad, Senior Events Project Manager Courtney was able to allocate these resources to local organizations that could use them instead.
Courtney also donated exam gloves to Duke Primary Care and hand sanitizer and sanitizing wipes were given to the Durham Police Department. “The hand sanitizer is being used to refill the individual hand sanitizers that the police have had to purchase on their own for their police cars,” Courtney said. “The wipes that we also provided are being used to wipe down the steering wheels, laptops and all interiors of the police cars that are switched out after each shift.”
And around 400 SAS Global Forum staff conference t-shirts are currently being used to create masks for local non-profit organizations. The Fraud & Security Intelligence Marketing team contacted Courtney with a proposition to create the masks.
“We had a number of leftover 2019 shirts and 2020 registration staff shirts that I had been trying to donate for weeks and [kept]hitting dead ends,” Courtney said. “[Marketing Senior Manager] Brooke reached out to me saying her team wanted to turn these unused shirts into masks.” Courtney had the boxes of shirts shipped directly to the employees, and they got to work.
So far, Ellen, an advisory product marketing manager, has donated 40 masks to a local organization in her community and is currently sewing 50 more.
“I looked on the CDC COVID-19 website to get a template for making the masks,” Ellen said. “I used the multicolor hairbands to stretch around your ears and handstitched them to the material so they can be washed and reused.”
Overall, the team has created close to 300 masks that will be donated to Meals on Wheels of Wake County, Senior Services North Fulton in Atlanta and Brunswick Senior Resources Inc. Center in Calabash, NC. “That fact that our team has been doing this together has also been great to talk about during our weekly coffee break calls,” Ellen said.
Ellen says it’s a privilege to participate in giving back something that could be helpful to others. “It’s hard to explain how important this project felt to me, even though I knew what I was doing was a small thing in comparison to what others working [in]essential businesses were doing to help our community,” she said. “I really appreciate the fact that I work for a company where this type of giving is recognized and encouraged.”
Thank you to these employees and people all around the world who are using their skills to spread kindness during this time. There’s strength in numbers, and every little bit of encouragement helps make a difference!
We could all use some good news right now. What are some ways you’ve seen people give back during this time? Share your stories in the comments below!