U-Haul Team Members regularly volunteer to fight the hunger that one in five Arizonans feel every day. A group of 22 U-Haul Team Members spent the morning of April 15 packing emergency food boxes at St. Mary’s Food Bank Alliance in Phoenix. You can watch the live feed from our volunteer day here.
The world’s first food bank, St. Mary’s is celebrating 50 years of feeding the hungry in 2017. U-Haul, founded in 1945, is also celebrating 50 years of being headquartered in Phoenix after relocating its operations from Portland, Ore., in 1967.
Serving the Community
U-Haul is committed to serving the communities to which it belongs. The Company focuses on assisting non-profit organizations that serve the most basic of human needs: food, clothing, and shelter. St. Mary’s mission to alleviate hunger and increase hunger awareness meshes well with the goals of U-Haul. Because of that St. Mary’s is a longstanding charitable partner of U-Haul.
“I’ve done volunteer work in the past, and I missed (volunteering) until coming to U-Haul,” explained U-Haul Team Member Gayle Hutchinson. Hutchinson volunteers at St. Mary’s Food Bank “because everybody needs to eat. As long as there are people willing to donate the food, I can certainly give a few hours of my time to help get it distributed.”
During the 2015-2016 fiscal year, St. Mary’s distributed more than 73 million pounds of food to families and individuals in need.
“St. Mary’s has only 150 full-time employees and could not provide the more than 40,000 emergency food boxes it hands out each month without the help of volunteers from companies like U-Haul,” said Jerry Brown, St. Mary’s Food Bank Director of Public Relations.
The Packing Begins
After given a synopsis of the organization’s mission, U-Haul Team Members were told the horrifying hunger statistics in Arizona:
One in three children does not know where their next meal will come from.
One in seven elderly people does not know where their next meal will come from.
Filled with motivation to help the hungry, U-Haul Team Members lined up on either side of the St. Mary’s warehouse conveyor belt. Some volunteers loaded food while others taped up boxes or loaded completed boxes on pallets.
Gears started to spin and music filled the warehouse. Boxes quickly moved from one hand to the next. Non-perishable food items were placed in each box.
“Most of us will have rough patches in life, and it’s nice to know people care,” U-Haul Team Member Erick Acevedo said. “U-Haul is family and is always finding a way to give back to great causes. I’m very proud of the company I work for.”
Making 23,000 Meals
U-Haul Team Members, with the help of Shadow Mountain High School students, packaged 810 emergency food boxes in the span of two hours. Those boxes equal roughly 23,000 pounds of food.
Matt Cooper, St. Mary’s Food Bank volunteer recruitment specialist, explained that they estimate one pound of food to be equal to one meal. St. Mary’s distributes the emergency food boxes at no charge to needy individuals.
“More than 90,000 volunteers donate more than 300,000 hours to (St. Mary’s) each year,” Brown said. “U-Haul, in particular, not only donates through volunteering but also sponsors the thousands of food drive boxes we need for the community each year.”
U-Haul offers a different volunteer opportunity each month for its Team Members.
“Not everyone is able or willing to seek out volunteer opportunities on their own,” Hutchinson said. “But when the Company provides a staff and structure for the opportunities, everyone wins. It speaks to the Company’s understanding that giving back (is important). I wear my U-Haul volunteer shirt proudly!”
Thanks to our U-Haul volunteers: Erick Acevedo, Sandra Balderas, Jake Bell, Paige Brown, Cece Brueckman, Anthony Franco, Eva Franco, Mike Franco, Silvia Hernandez, Matthew Herst, Monty Hurley, Ryan Hurley, Gayle Hutchinson, Armelyn Louis, Rod McDowell, Rachel McMurdy, Alonna Ross, Joshua Ross, Latasha Ross, Michelle Vukov-Mikel and Jason Wagner.
Did you know U-Haul donated 855 turkeys to St. Mary’s last year during their annual turkey drive? Learn more at myuhaulstory.com.