Paul Halliburton does many things at the office as director of environmental compliance for Carolinas HealthCare System, but only recently did sandwich-making for the homeless get added to the list.
Not just few sandwiches, but 1,000 at a time.
Fortunately, it was something he and 35 co-workers could do as a team, as part of a United Way promotion that gives companies the option of doing volunteer charity work in the office.
My desk is just 100 feet away, said Halliburton, as he stood in the assembly line, sealing sandwich bags. Its very convenient in this economy, when you have people in food services or housekeeping who may not have a car. They still want to participate and now they can.
The team, working in a conference room, made 1,080 sandwiches in about two hours, which were then hauled off by the Mens Shelter of Charlotte to be served at lunch that same day.
United Way officials say sandwich-making events are just one of several large-scale, low-cost volunteer projects local companies can do as part of their on-site volunteerism promotion.
Leslie Rink of United Way says its an option that has become increasingly popular as employers have sought ways to help charities, while also maintaining their bottom line.
Or, as in the case of Carolinas HealthCare, its a way to give volunteer opportunities to critically needed staff who cant easily leave their workplace.
Examples of other recently organized projects include packing school supplies for Classroom Central, writing letters to overseas service personnel for the American Red Cross, and loading snacks into backpacks for nonprofits that help feed children.
In addition to Carolinas HealthCare, companies hosting on-site events have included Microsoft, Vanguard, Bank of America, UNC-Charlotte and Deloitte, Rink said.
If youve got a company that has a call center, and your employees cant leave the floor except for a quick break, these are volunteer jobs that you can do in two minutes, right there, said Rink. All you need to do is set it up in a conference room or employee break room, and they can slip in and out.
United Way came up with the idea last year after one of the citys banks called and said it wanted a volunteer project for 500 new hires going through orientation in a hotel ballroom. The project needed to be inexpensive and couldnt exceed an hour.
Rink said they came up with an idea to bring in school supplies and have the new hires pack them into pencil holders for Classroom Central, a charity that operates a free store for teachers with at-risk students. The group did 12,000 pencil packs in just 20 minutes, she recalled.
In the case of Carolinas HealthCare, the sandwich-making event was part of a 24-hour marathon of on- and off-site community service staged by the hospitals facilities management group last week.
Were taking care of patients and have a lot of work to do, and its sometimes difficult to leave the work place to participate in these opportunities, said Lois Ingland, assistant VP of Corporate Community Outreach for Carolinas Health Care.
The more we can bring into the workplace and set up things, even during staff meetings, the more well get done. Were looking for new, fresh ways to meet the communitys needs while still conducting business.