Wells Fargo seeks to set record for volunteerism in community

Wells Fargo makes it a point to encourage volun-teerism among its staff, but the bank hopes to set a record this week with as many as 4,000 employees doing 10,000 volunteer hours of community service.

The effort culminates Saturday in a “Day of Caring,” when 1,000 volunteers will work simultaneously on 10 projects for nonprofits such as the Humane Society, Second Harvest Food Bank, Crisis Assistance Ministry and the Salvation Army. The volunteers will include families of employees as well.

Wells Fargo will also announce Saturday that it is providing $50,000 in additional grant money to help Friendship Gardens, a network of community gardens that provides fresh vegetables to feed the needy. In total, the bank is providing $125,000 to Friendship Gardens over two years.

Jay Everette of Wells Fargo said the 4,000 volunteers working this year will be double the number who participated last year in the community service blitz.

Another difference: The bank expanded the number of volunteer days from one to 10 but narrowed the focus from about 100 projects to 10.

“We feel like this exposes our team members to needs in the community and shows they can have an impact by taking an active role,” Everette said.

“Team members who participate in events like this often want to go back and stay involved with the programs they help on the Day of Caring. We had one volunteer to do work with Big Brothers Big Sisters and he now serves on their board.”

The bank launched the Day of Caring in 2011, with 1,200 employees and their families volunteering for about 60 projects. It has since become a national model for the San Francisco-based bank, which made Charlotte its hub for East Coast operations.

Wells Fargo typically includes a grant announcement as part of the event, and Everette said they chose Friendship Gardens because of its broad impact. The nonprofit coordinates a network of 74 gardens in the community on an annual budget of $80,000. Much of what is raised in the gardens goes to Friendship Trays, a nonprofit that serves hundreds of meals a day to seniors and people who have limited access to food.

Henry Owen of Friendship Gardens said the Wells Fargo money is helping to create a 2 1/2-acre urban farm and greenhouse at Garinger High in Charlotte, which will supply large quantities of fresh vegetables.

“We’ve been looking a long time for a space to make the hub of our program and this money is essential to helping us start this farm,” Owen said.