Sappi Employees Are Giving Back to Neighboring Communities

Dec 22, 2016 9:00 AM ET

Over $15,000—that’s how much employees at Sappi’s Somerset Mill raised last holiday season to feed undernourished families in neighboring communities. The Christmas Dinner Harvest food drive first began back in 2008, when a longtime employee heard on the radio that the holiday season presents the biggest struggle for pantries trying to feed hungry families. He proposed an idea for a food drive at the mill, and it sparked immediate interest. What started as a small collection of non-perishable items has since transformed into a much larger initiative made possible through the collaborative efforts of the local unions and salaried employees. Thirteen volunteers lead the program, holding raffles and collecting monetary donations from the mill’s employees before coordinating with grocery owner David Welch, from The Village Market in Fairfield and the Associated Grocers of New England. Each grocer donates $1,000 worth of their own groceries for the community packages.

The volunteers then load up trucks and deliver supplies directly to families and pantries. “Every year, our volunteers return with stories,” said a committee member. “One place where we brought a dinner, the family still had a dirt floor, and this was in 2013. The young boy saw we’d brought a box of cereal and gallon of milk and eagerly asked his mother if he could have a bowl of Cheerios. Even pantry volunteers get excited—to have to tell a family that there’s nothing for them has to be one of the toughest things to do, so they’re often as grateful as those receiving the food.” All volunteers recognize that it takes a dedicated team to make a difference of this scale. “The folks on this committee are incredible human beings who go out of their way to help folks in need,” said one volunteer. “They come back each year with so much compassion, excited and ready to do it again!”

Learn more about our charitable initiatives in this year’s Sustainability Report: