Les Olson Company has been going strong for almost 60 years; we feel blessed that the communities we live and work in have embraced us and helped us to thrive. We feel a responsibility to return the favor by supporting organizations that help to improve these communities, and supporting our friends at the Utah Food Bank and other local food pantries has become a big part of that effort.
This summer we had the honor of being the official sponsor of the Utah Food Bank‘s Summer Business Food Drive for the 2nd year in a row. In conjunction, we held our 4th annual Summer Business Food Drive, encouraging our employees to give time, food and money to the Utah Food Bank and Three Square Food Bank in Las Vegas.
We were astonished at what our employees were willing to do to help these great organizations. We more than doubled our original goal! A big part of that was giving employees a variety of ways to participate whether it was volunteering their time, cleaning out their pantries or donating money from their paychecks. Many employees donated in every possible way. The other reason for our success? Beards.
While the company policy has recently been updated to allow beards, growing facial hair has long been against company policy since the company was founded in 1956. So how did beards play into this year’s food drive? We allowed employees to grow beards from June to August in exchange for a donation to the food drive. Almost every male employee took advantage of this rare treat. But it wasn’t just the men who enthusiastically participated, in fact, almost every employee participated.
One of the most fulfilling ways our employees contributed was by volunteering their time at the Utah Food Bank and Three Square Food Bank. Many employees went multiple times, took their friends and families and set up times to go with their co-workers. This turned out to be a great bonding experience and team-building activity. Some sorted canned goods and some put together food packages while others sifted through store rescue items. We volunteered a combined total of 387 hours! That goes a long way to help these organizations that have to run as lean as possible – relying on volunteers and very few paid employees.
Most employees deducted donations from their paychecks or brought in cash and checks. Some employees even brought in monetary donations from their friends, neighbors, customers and families. Collectively we donated $25,322.00, a significant amount of money to help the Utah Food Bank and Three Square Food Bank purchase food for those in need. The Utah Food Bank has such great buying power that they can turn every dollar donated into $8 worth of food and services, making money a most valuable donation.
Food barrels were placed around each of our locations and just a few days into the food drive they were overflowing with much needed items like peanut butter, tuna fish and other canned goods. The Utah Food Bank had to empty the food barrels in our Salt Lake Office just a couple of weeks into our food drive because they were too full, which is never a bad thing. 9,637 food items were donated!
We even set up a booth at each of our company summer parties to collect donations in exchange for raffle tickets, which was a great success. By the end of the food drive we were amazed with the results and happy to be able to help feed hungry families in our community. As the food drive came to an end, food barrels were picked up from each branch location and delivered to the nearest community pantry and we delivered both a symbolic and actual check to the Utah Food Bank.
We’re looking forward to continuing this tradition next year and for many years to come.