As part of Daktronics celebrating 50 years in business, every month in 2018 has a #DakGivesBack initiative to give back to local communities where company employees live. In April, the company encouraged employees to pay it forward and participate in random acts of kindness throughout the month.
For the Accounting and Personnel groups, that meant serving a meal at Harvest Table in Brookings, South Dakota. Harvest Table is a Brookings Area United Way partner agency that provides a no-cost meal, groceries and diapers to anyone in the community.
“Each department [throughout Daktronics] really does have its own subculture and I think it is important to experience working alongside each other,” said Lori Munsterman, Accounting. “Both groups are organized go-getters. The Accounting department has a history of volunteering and donating to charitable organizations, but we felt we lacked the manpower to support the Harvest Table alone, so we welcomed the opportunity to co-sponsor the event with Personnel.”
Employees from both departments formed a planning committee in February to begin working out the details, such as picking a date, planning a menu, and coordinating volunteers.
“Other Daktronics groups had previously worked the Harvest Table, so we started by gathering to learn from their experience,” said Munsterman. “Then we split the project in to three categories to make the duties feel more manageable: fundraising, volunteers, and food planning.”
Katie Schwing, HR, joined the Personnel group in early March, and was more than happy to join the planning committee for the Harvest Table event. “My previous work group [Transportation Customer Service] hosted Harvest Table last September, so I was happy to jump in and help with anything I could add from my experience,” said Schwing. “Together, we worked to identify the food quantities we wanted to order and priced out our options to determine where to buy. We then discussed our campaign to gain funding to actually purchase the food.”
The first option to come to mind for funding was the Daktronics Corporate Sponsorship program. Started more than 30 years ago, the program is designed to encourage employees to get involved in their communities. Each fiscal year, funds are available for employees who actively participate in community activities and fundraising awareness events. Additionally, a few employees secured funding through Thrivent Financial’s Thrivent Action Team program.
“It was great to see how willing to participate everyone in the group was,” said Schwing. “Within a few days, nearly all of our time slots had been filled and we ended up having an excess of help at the event. This allowed us to spend more time interacting with community members and ensuring they had a great time!”
Community members enjoyed more than 180 meals that night. Daktronics employees were so generous with their corporate sponsorship dollars and additional fundraising activities, they were able to make a monetary donation to the organization, in addition to covering the cost of food for the evening.
“It is humbling to witness the need, even in our small community,” said Munsterman. “Patrons were friendly and respectful. They seemed to look forward to the social aspect as much as the basic food provision.”
Munsterman continued, “I distributed cookies, so I felt I had a really fun role. Who doesn’t look forward to a cookie? And to see our whole group cheerfully giving their time is also rewarding. It is nice to know that I work alongside such a generous group.”
“I really enjoyed this activity as a team and community builder,” said Schwing. “As a new member to this group, I was able to get to know my new colleagues on a deeper level and I hope to be able to leverage those relationships as we continue to work together in the future. It is a wonderful feeling to know that you are making a positive impact on others.”
Schwing added, “Vonda at the Harvest Table was warm and friendly to work with. You can tell that she truly appreciates the efforts that each group makes to help keep this program available to the Brookings community.”
Vonda Kirkham, Harvest Table coordinator, shared her appreciation for the meal from Daktronics and the additional monetary donation, also noting, “Daktronics was a fun group to work with at Harvest Table. The group was well organized and seemed happy to be volunteering their time.”
Kirkham pointed out that, “Without serving groups like Daktronics, Harvest Table would not be able to provide our services to the community.”
You’ll find a different group from the Brookings area serving up a delicious and nutritious meal at Harvest Table every Monday evening, and the Accounting and Personnel groups are already looking forward to their next opportunity to serve.
“We are very fortunate to have groups that are willing to support the needs of those in our community,” concluded Kirkham.
To learn more about Harvest Table, visit http://www.brookingsmethodist.org/harvest-table.html.
This article is by Christianne Beringer
in Employee Communications.