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Helping with Back to School

August 25, 2014

By: Tamika Gainer, Community Co-Chairs, Darden African-American ERG

Helping with Back to School

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For the past six years, the Darden African-American Employee Resource Group (ERG) has held a backpack drive in the fall to help children in the community prepare to go back to school. This was our first year as the ERG's Community Co-Chairs, and we were excited to continue the tradition.

The members of our ERG are passionate about helping children in our community succeed. Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Florida was a natural fit for us to partner with. They make meaningful matches between adult volunteers and children to help at-risk youth reach their greatest potential through this mentorship.

We dropped off 205 backpacks full of school supplies as well as extra supplies, exceeding our goal and expectations. When we arrived at Big Brothers Big Sisters, families were already lined up to pick up backpacks. Big Brothers Big Sisters supports five different counties in Central Florida and had more than 600 families in need of backpacks for the new school year. Along with other Central Florida companies, we were proud to do our part to help alleviate the burden of purchasing school supplies for some families.

Our ERG’s executive advisors, Dave George, President of Olive Garden, and Teresa Sebastian, General Counsel of Darden, did a great job rallying everyone at Darden to participate. The support and participation we received from volunteers and donors was amazing. Our Building Services team got involved to help transport all the backpacks and took a great amount of pride in handing them out to families. One of our colleagues even brought his children along so they could donate their time to help stuff backpacks and deliver them.

You could tell that our donors cared a lot about the children they were helping. They purchased and donated high-quality backpacks and supplies that would appeal to kids with fun designs and characters. We saw families and children get excited to receive their new supplies and backpacks, which made the whole experience extra special.

The backpack drive was a great way to connect with our colleagues at Darden and to our Central Florida community. We take a lot of pride in knowing we helped lessen a need for families and set kids up for a great school year. Our ERG plans on doing more community activities throughout the year to continue to make a difference.

By: Tamika Gainer & Trevor Stewart, Community Co-Chairs, Darden African-American ERG

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