We created Clarus Cares to provide opportunities for our employees to lend a collective hand to people, causes, and organizations in the cities and towns around us.
I don’t think there is a better example of what we look for in a Clarus Cares event than the one we participated in on Tuesday at the Connecticut Food Bank in Wallingford.
Founded in 1982 in New Haven, the CT Food Bank partners with food retailers, growers, donors, and volunteers to source food and distribute it through a network of 700 community-based food assistance programs including food pantries, soup kitchens, emergency shelters, residential programs, and day programs that serve adults and children, as well as through a Mobile Pantry, GROW Truck, and Kids’ BackPack programs.
CT Food Bank provides food to hungry adults and children in six Connecticut counties: Fairfield, Litchfield, Middlesex, New Haven, New London and Windham.
More than 280,000 people in those six counties are what is termed as “food insecure.”
By soliciting the food industry for products that will not sell –– items that are wholesome but might have some cosmetic flaw –– the CT Food Bank reduces waste and feeds people.
Last year, CT Food Bank distributed enough food to provide more than 20.3 million meals.
Feeling A Sense of Gratitude
We had about 35 Clarus employees for the morning shift and about 40 for the afternoon shift.
The Clarus team felt a sense of gratitude knowing we were helping others. It felt less like working and more about giving back.
The CT Food Bank is a beautiful, well-kept, and organized facility. Clarus team members also appreciated the welcoming break room equipped with beverages and snacks.
And CT Food Bank makes significant contributions to a plethora of communities in the state.
In Lenny We Trust
Our CT Food Bank host, Lenny, expertly guided us through our shift, complete with instructions, information, laughter, a tour, and an intense counting game called Buzz (more on that later!).
Lenny, who is a Reclamation Manager, has worked in the Operations Department at CT Food Bank for 20 years.
He appreciates the fact that he knows where all the food sourced and distributed will end up. He shared with us that he once was a client and that the mission of CT Food Bank is very personal to him.
Having been a frequent visitor at the soup kitchens in New Haven in the past, Lenny knows for many low-income people it is very difficult to decide whether to pay a utility bill or get food to eat.
Mixed among the serious nature of the tasks at hand were many moments of laughter, thanks to Lenny.
Lenny has a great sense of humor while providing an in-depth explanation into what goes into running their organization. He offered many quirky jokes and even poked fun at a few team members – in a kind way.
Shifting Our Volunteer Gears
After Lenny and Delores, who is the Volunteer Manager at CT Food Bank, finished with their respective introduction and welcoming talks, our morning crew split into two groups.
One group worked in the warehouse and sorted more than 8,000 pounds of food. Lenny took the group on a tour of the facility where we navigated around several forklifts and floor pallets to understand the ins and outs of this well-oiled machine.
And at the very end of our shift, we played a comedic game of Buzz which tested our time, wit, and memory of our No. 7 times table. The game boiled down to two of our finance team members. In the end, Kevin Tracy, our FP&A manager, was crowned Buzz king.
The second group participated in the pantry distribution area to sort and distribute food to individuals picking up meals for their families.
One Clarus employee said “it was eye-opening to work in the donation pickup area and see/meet the clients of the Food Bank … many were very appreciative.”
Another employee experienced an emotional encounter with someone receiving help for the first time.
The afternoon crew also split into groups: Some worked in the pantry distribution area while the others worked with donations.
They helped prepare several donation acknowledgment letters to go out in the mail and helped track donations via data entry on their computers.
Overall, it was a great experience and several people expressed an interest in going back again on their own.
Why We Wanted to Help
CT Food Bank is a beacon for benevolence and good will.
You can feel it too when you are volunteering there.
I think we all felt it on Tuesday.
At Clarus Commerce, we believe that companies can be measured by the commitments and contributions they make to the communities around them.
Given that criteria, CT Food Bank embodies what Clarus Cares events stand for.