“Today we are celebrating volunteerism and how by working together, we can make a difference in the community,” store manager Glenn Ely said at the ceremony.
A $50,000 Golden Spark award was given to the Owensville store for a food charity of their choice after the associates logged 645 volunteer hours — the highest amount out of 4,000 stores around the United States. Each store had a month to log associates’ volunteer hours to compete for the Golden Spark award. In this first round of awards, a total of $250,000 from the Walmart Foundation’s $2 billion commitment from now through 2015 to fight hunger in America was given away to six stores in the country.
Owensville volunteers chose to donate to the Helping Hands Outreach Center’s backpack program.
“We are proud to support Helping Hands Outreach Center and its backpack program,” Ely said.
The program provides easy-to-prepare foods for children from low-income families to help sustain them over weekends and holiday vacations away from school — typically a source of reliable meals for them.
Ely thanked Rich Hahn, Linda Bunting and Bronna Flanagan for their services to the community. Hahn and Bunting presented a banner that displayed the store’s achievement to the crowd.
Afterwards, VFW Post 6133 member Carl Rose sang the “Star Spangled Banner” in honor of Veterans Day and invited the crowd to sing along. Other veterans present were Andrew Michel, Ed Lesniewski, Nick Baxter, Leroy Seymour, Randy Esphorst, John Tayloe, and Mike Stillman. VFW Ladies Auxiliary members Theresa Ringeisen, Esther Tayloe, Joyce Baxter, Karen Merritt, Brenda Limberg, Janet Shantz and Peggy Emde were also present.
The National Anthem was followed by the check presentation. Ely presented the $50,000 check to Carolyn Hefley, executive director of Helping Hands Outreach Center.
“This allows us to have more children where before there was a limit for the ones the school said needed it most,” Hefley said. “This will allow an increase of six kids.”
Hefley said the Golden Spark award will be budgeted for three years. “The gives us three years to figure out how to maintain it and let the community see what a wonderful thing it is,” Hefley said.
“Nearly 100 associates at the Owensville Walmart donated over 2,200 food items, $1,200 in cash, plus more than 600 hours of their own time to conduct a food drive,” Walmart officials noted. “As a result, the store not only logged the most volunteer hours out of any store nationwide, but their volunteer hours will result in a $50,000 grant to a neighborhood organization that has a backpack program. Such programs provide healthy meals to low-income children to take home on weekends or holidays when free or reduced-price school meals are not available. Walmart associates selected Helping Hands Outreach Center as the recipient of this grant.”
Statistics indicate that 22.5 percent, or 730 children, in Owensville are food insecure, meaning they do not have access to the nutritious food items that are necessary to fulfill their dietary needs for a healthy lifestyle.
In 2010, Walmart and the Walmart Foundation launched “Fighting Hunger Together.” To date, the initiative has provided more than $122 million in grants and 594 million pounds of food to communities.
The ceremony concluded with cake, snacks, and punch to celebrate Veterans Day. Vector Communications, a public relations company from St. Louis, set up an American Flag with note cards and pencils to write messages to veterans. The flag message board was later donated to the VFW.
(Editor’s note: In addition to her duties here at The Republican, Roxie Murphy is also a Walmart associate at store No. 0345 in Owensville).
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