101 in 1001 #44: Volunteer at a hunger-related program.

It's a 101 in 1001 catch-up week, friends - I've gone absolutely nuts on my list lately and am so excited to check off a few more goals! (Nothing like leaving it to the last minute, in classic Lizzie fashion...I started my list in May of 2014 and it ends this February!)

I'm incredibly proud to be one of the chairs of my company's Employee Giving Campaign. This was my third year on the campaign, and it was our best year yet - our special events raised way more than ever before, and we had record participation across our campus! One of the events that's nearest and dearest to my heart is the annual Day of Caring. 

We bring in Twin Cities-based Feed My Starving Children, an organization founded in 1987 to provide basic food security to the world's poorest children. Since their inception, FMSC has grown to pack and ship over 273 million meals around the world annually. Their Mobile Pack events offer a way for corporations to participate without even having to leave the office. This year, my company wrangled nearly 350 volunteers to pack over 60,000 meals in just under eight hours.  

FMSC does an absolutely fantastic job outlining their mission and the impact of meals around the world. I've been involved with the program on and off since my high school days working as a summer daycare staff at my parish church, supervising 40 elementary kids on field trip days to the Eagan, MN packing site...and I still get shivers when I see the success stories of severely malnourished children's before and afters. The beautiful thing about FMSC is that their format works for everyone from kids to professionals...and I really appreciate that now more than ever having seen that action from both sides. 

My role for our two-day engagement with FMSC? Commanding officer, of course! Having done this several years in a row now, I've got it down to a science...from supervising the set-up and transit of hundreds of pounds of rice, soy and equipment, to handling building access and security, to corralling and wrangling a dozen FMSC staff and several hundred volunteers. I kept my iPhone in my pocket to track steps over the course of our packing day, and logged nearly 20,000 steps in just the workday. Gotta love getting away from the desk! 

Let's also take a moment to admire my snazzy hairnet. It's the fashion statement of the fall. (I'm debating whether or not I'm going to regret sharing that one down the line, ha!)

Once packing started, our building's auditorium turned into a site of mass organized chaos. 90s tunes were pumping over the sound system. Departments that had organized into teams raced each other to finish boxes and crates. The FMSC staff supervised and acted as cheerleaders, and our corporate photographer popped in and out, capturing solid gold shots of top executives in hairnets, covered with rice dust and grinning from ear to ear. 

After every shift, the FMSC crew gathered our packers up front for the big reveal of how many meals each group packed. The results were inevitably greeted with a massive cheer...I felt so bad for the departments that sat outside the auditorium, it had to be a day of major distraction! We snapped group photos, and went on our way. 

For days after the event, my inbox was deluged with emails from participants expressing their excitement and satisfaction with the event. From managers and directors who appreciated the free team-building opportunity, to employees who used it as a chance to network or simply appreciated getting away from their desks to support a good cause, it warmed my ever-so-sentimental heart to know that we'd not only done something great for a worthy cause, but had made so many people's days in doing so. 

The true highlight, however? Receiving our official results from FMSC: 

Talk about tangible impact. It's easy for me to get bogged down in the procedural stress and sheer volume of administrative organization pulling off an event like this takes, but, for me, it hammered home just how worth it the event was to see those results. 

Shortly after our Day of Caring, Hurricane Matthew demolished the island of Haiti, and we received a second email from our FMSC contact, Judy. She informed us that, along with other corporate pack events' meals, the entirety of our Mobile Pack's output had been diverted to Haiti to answer the overwhelming need in the aftermath of the hurricane. She also attached a photo from one of their "Hurricane Socials," where kids could show up and receive a meal right on site. I opened the attachment and my heart swelled up like a balloon: 

I'm incredibly proud to work for a company that prioritizes investment in communities, both locally and globally. Getting the chance to pay it forward and make even the smallest difference in the world is a privilege that I am grateful for, every day! 

For more 101 in 1001, head here, and to support FMSC's mission by donating or signing up to pack, check out their fantastic website here