When you think of items you can get for just a dollar, thoughts of postage stamps, greeting cards and iTunes songs may spring to mind first. But what if you could use that same dollar to provide three meals for people in need?
That’s exactly what happens when you donate a buck to the North Texas Food Bank (NTFB), a hunger relief organization that services 13 counties throughout the DFW area. Serving some 835,000 people considered food insecure—including 295,000 children—you can see why feeding our community is such a pressing issue for the 35-year-old organization.
“You can’t go to work or school on an empty stomach,” says Valen Chavez, Program Manager for ORIX Foundation. “It affects your physiology, as well as your mental and emotional state.”
The mission to help feed our neighbors in need resonates among ORIX USA employees, and on April 21 and April 22, the company’s Dallas Volunteer Task Force kicked off by hosting its first event at the NTFB. Nearly 40 employees—including some of their children—spent Friday afternoon and Saturday morning sorting canned goods, packaging produce and creating food boxes for various NTFB programs.
“It was nice to come together and connect outside of the office,” Valen says. “We got to tour the facility before rolling up our sleeves and getting to work.”
And work they did: The ambitious group assembled 300 boxes that would provide roughly 6,875 meals for those in need. “Seeing people from so many different ages and ethnicities gave us the chance to really see the community come together,” Valen says. “To be able to leave the office and get to know our co-workers on a more personal level gives you the chance to bond in a deeper way.”
Not to mention the impact left on the NTFB as well. Each day, the NTFB provides access to 190,000 meals for hungry children, seniors and families through a network of more than 100 programs and 200 partner agencies—but they’re not stopping there. The organization has a 10-year goal of providing 92 million nutritious meals annually by 2025, which is an increase from its current annual number of 70 million. Also on the 10-year agenda: establishing a distribution and volunteer center in Collin County.
“When groups like ORIX come to volunteer, they’re making a direct impact,” says Anna Kurian, Director of Communications at the NTFB. “We couldn’t do the important work that we do without the support of dedicated volunteers.”
Want to help? Countless opportunities to pitch in await since the NTFB provides a host of programs. Whether you want to sort food, teach a nutrition class, man a special event or deliver food to homebound seniors, there’s likely an opportunity suited for you.
“We know that these volunteer hours and the manpower behind them save us thousands of dollars every year, allowing us to use donations to purchase healthy foods for clients in need,” Anna says.
This kickoff event at the NTFB is just the beginning: The Volunteer Task Force is on a mission to arrange monthly organized volunteer activities, ranging from individual and small group opportunities to large companywide events. Formed to pair employees with some of the fantastic organizations that ORIX Foundation financially supports, the Volunteer Task Force has both a Dallas and Columbus branch, each comprised of members who want to engage their fellow employees through volunteerism.
“We think we can help organizations make a significant change and help tackle pressing social issues,” Valen says.
Be on the lookout for employee drives being held throughout the year as well, coordinated by the Volunteer Task Force. Exhibit A: the current summer camp drive being held in Dallas for Girls Embracing Mothers, a nonprofit that works with young girls whose mothers are incarcerated. This year, the girls will be attending their first summer camp, and employees can donate items like sunscreen and pool towels to help them on their trip.
To stay up to date on all of the volunteer opportunities, be sure to check out the ORIX Foundation Events page or ORIX Open. (You might even find some of the opportunities posted in the Café.)
“A lot of times when you start working on a project that you’ve never done before or when you’re exposed to working with a new group of people, you discover either a new talent or a passion you didn’t recognize before,” Valen says. “That’s what we’re really trying to do with the Volunteer Task Force—we want to empower employees to up their commitment to these wonderful organizations.”