“Cummins sending school supplies has helped our kids to be on an equal footing with the other children in their classes. You should've seen the smiles on their faces when they opened the bags and looked in!” said Patti Brent, director of Eagles Soar Youth Activity Center in Redding, CA.
A story like that stops me in my tracks and warms my heart. It is easy to forget that many children go to school without the necessary supplies, and that there are adults living without the basic necessities for good hygiene. Every day, though, there are thoughtful individuals who step forward and volunteer, making a point to give back to those in need. This time, it was Cummins employees who cared.
“Many parents struggle with basic needs in our community and back-to-school shopping can often take a backseat to bills and groceries. Our hope is that these supplies give students a sense of confidence and motivate them to do well in school,” said Christina Gutierrez of United Way of Northern California.
Over the course of five months, 800 Cummins employees from 22 different facilities in 11 states and Canada worked together to build school supply and hygiene kits which were distributed to elementary schools, Youth Activity Centers, a Youth Task Force, the Salvation Army, and shelters. This is the second year that Cummins and United Way have partnered to facilitate such a project. Employees described the assembly activity as a fun event that brought them together as teams, which is not something they often have a chance to do.
Cummins employee volunteer Stefanie Thomas said that the project helped her gain perspective. "I didn't realize how much it costs families to send their kids back to school each year. We are happy that we can help give back to the Fairbanks, AK community.” Many Cummins employees stuffed drawstring bags with 17 items like composition books, markers, pens and pencils to help children feel prepared for the school year ahead. Employees also included a note of encouragement to each student to give them a boost of confidence in school. Others facilities assembled hygiene kits filled with items like shampoo, soap, a toothbrush and toothpaste.
Just as Cummins helped students and adults who were struggling this year, the volunteer project allowed employees an opportunity to gain insight regarding what families in their own community are experiencing and how seemingly simple gestures can make an impact. It was a thought-provoking volunteer opportunity and one both Cummins employees and United Way look forward to participating in again.