When people in the community hear or see the name “Festival Foods”, the first thing that typically comes to mind is the grocery store. While we are proud to be a well-known Wisconsin company in the grocery business, opening new stores as our existing stores continue to grow, there is something else we are also proud of that is not always as noticeable to the public eye: the team building and community involvement opportunities we constantly have for our associates. Yes, guests know Festival sponsors fireworks in many of our markets, and the Festival Big Cart full of Festival associates makes an appearance in many parades throughout the summer. But what about the smaller opportunities in the community, like weeding a garden, grilling up burgers and brats, or walking a mile in high heels, all in 95 degree weather? Several groups of Festival associates recently took a day off from working inside the store, and spent a few hours of their day volunteering their time and giving back to the community. Several associates from our Holmen location participated in the “Walk a Mile in Her Shoes” event, which is held annually at the Riverfest grounds to create awareness about sexual assault and domestic violence in the community. In the past, this event was only open to men, so Walk a Mile provided women’s shoes for all participants and they walked about 2 laps, or 1 mile, around Riverside Park. This year, for the first time ever, women were allowed to participate as well, walking as “Soul Sisters.” Jennifer F, the assistant Front End manager at Holmen, said it best, “It was terribly hot and I’m sure everyone’s feet were covered in blisters, but it was well worth it!”. Associates from the Copeland store were actively involved in a “Day of Caring” at the Kane street community garden. The Kane Street community garden is a lot of land owned by the city of La Crosse where volunteers donate their time to help plant, weed and harvest fresh produce. They started in early spring by selling “seeds of hope” icons at the store to raise money for the garden. A couple weeks ago they went to the garden to pick weeds around the green peppers. Gavin, one of the coordinators for the garden, even let them try some peppers, and rewarded their hard work in the extreme heat with popsicles and ice cream! “It was a great opportunity to go to the garden and see where the money goes that we raise for our Seeds of Hope campaign. Everybody had a great time helping out.”, said Nicci C, a CSR at Copeland and one of the volunteers at the garden. Multiple groups of associates from our Darboy location volunteered their time at the Fox Valley Humane society for a couple weeks in June. They did landscaping and yard work in an area behind the building where adoptive families can play with their dogs before taking them home. This was not an easy task! The gardens were overgrown with tangled weeds that clearly had not been touched for awhile. Gloves, gardening tools, garbage bags, and a wheelbarrow were provided. The first few groups spent the majority of their time yanking weeds out of the ground and slowly seeing the hidden flowers peek through. The last group to go filled the spaces between the flowers and plants with mulch to give it more visual appeal. After their hard work outside, they went inside to play with some of the cats and dogs! Abby D, a CSR who volunteered a couple days, said “I really enjoyed being able to spend time with my fellow workers outside of work and being able to enjoy everyone’s company. During the sweat and heat of working in the sun, we all put on our smiles and had a great experience helping out a local organization. I would recommend it to anyone as a great bonding experience but also working as a team to help others in need, in this case pets!!” Over the 4th of July, the Brat Barn at Manitowoc was staffed by Festival employees in an effort to raise money to support the local YMCA. Associates from all departments took turns grilling brats and hamburgers all day to keep up with their hungry customers! Everyone who volunteered had lots of fun, and some even got a good view of the fireworks! It goes without saying that it is fun to see co-workers outside of our typical work environment and get to know a little more about each other than “she’s a bagger” or “he’s a cashier”. Combine that with a productive day of making a difference in our communities and seeing the completed project at the end, and I believe most associates would say it was a rewarding experience and time well spent. Thank you to the associates from Copeland, Holmen, Darboy, and Manitowoc for sharing your experiences and helping me with this blog!
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