Here’s how a BB&T team builds community by fighting hunger with Harvesters in Kansas City, Missouri.
Typically, supporting a charity comes from a desire to help others in circumstances different from our own, but for BB&T associate Sandra Polc her involvement with Harvesters struck a more personal note.
Harvesters is a community food network that provides meals to more than 140,000 people in Missouri and Kansas every month. The organization helped Polc with her food bill when her children were in elementary school. With Harvesters’ assistance, she packed her kids’ lunches and put dinner on the table with fresh fruits and vegetables. “Whenever I’d back into the carport, the kids knew I had been there,” Polc recalled.
Fighting hunger through local support
Polc was not alone in her need. In the Harvesters’ 26-county service area, more than 350,000 people are food insecure, nearly a third of them children. So when BB&T associate Emmanuel Cable looked around his community for an opportunity to serve, the decision wasn’t difficult.
Cable’s involvement was part of the BB&T Lighthouse Project, which encourages associates to serve their communities through volunteer efforts. He and his team are part of AFCO, a premium finance company that is part of BB&T, in Kansas City, Missouri.
“I’ve always enjoyed helping people,” he said. “So it's really exciting that BB&T focuses on that too. It’s awesome the company makes sure it’s a priority to give back.”
Since 2009, BB&T’s Lighthouse Project has completed 10,000 community service projects, compiled more than 500,000 volunteer hours and changed more than 15 million people’s lives for the better. And Cable is adding one more project to that distinguished list.
Seeing an immediate impact
Cable’s team volunteered at Harvesters on two separate days. The first day was spent prepping, bagging, sorting and handing out boxes of food to anyone in need through a drive-through setup. He estimated they served about 250 people – all from different walks of life.
Cable recalled a man who was one of the last people to visit. “We, of course, were piling on all the food, and he told us he would give out some of it to pay it forward,” Cable said.
“It was a blast for me to just be out there,” Cable said. “Not just with the people I was helping, but with other volunteers as well. There was a common sense of – what’s the word I’m looking for? Fulfillment.”
Connecting with the community
The second day was spent in the Harvesters’ warehouse, packaging food in boxes to prepare for the next event.
“It’s still exciting to see [the Harvesters building] because honestly, if you ask any Kansas City resident what’s well-known here, they’re all going to say Harvesters,” said Steve Woods, a BB&T associate and volunteer.
Woods has never wanted for food, but his father was a child of the Depression. “He knew what it was like to be hungry and not know where his next meal was coming from,” Woods said. “That’s why when groceries were cheap – a can of green beans for 29 cents, for example – my dad used to buy several cases. It wasn’t very far out of his way to drop them off at a donation site on his way to work, and he did that frequently for years.”
For this BB&T team, Harvesters is the perfect example of bringing the community together. “It’s so rewarding,” Cable said. “A lot of the people [from the community] who help are the same people being helped. It’s people working together to accomplish something.”
Polc agreed: “Anytime there’s a need, Harvesters is there. It’s just like a good friend – you give and take.
“It’s the way I am with my friends: If they need anything, I’m there to help them,” she said. “They’re part of the community, and if you’re part of something, that’s what you do.”