Waste Management team gives back

Waste Management team gives back

Florida workers fill more than 30 recycle carts with food to donate to local food bank.

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November 23, 2018
Kelly Maile

Last year, Waste Management started a companywide Move the Chains challenge, but no one took it as seriously as route manager Oterio Davis and his team in Pinellas County, Florida.

In two weeks, employees filled 38 recycle carts with food donations and delivered the bins to a local food bank that serves people in need.

Davis says for the last two years, his site has participated in Move the Chains, a challenge that embraces social and physical wellness. His team decided to give back to the community with a food drive.

“It was a simple thing at first,” says Davis, who has worked for Waste Management as a route manager for eight years. “I put two recycle bins in our break room thinking we were going to at least fill up a couple bins” with food.

Then a teammate, Tyrone Shivers, challenged each member of the management team to fill his or her own cart with food. Shivers even filled his own 65-gallon bin.

“They went out and bought food, I went out and bought food, and we filled the bins,” Davis says. “Within two days, we went from two bins to six, and they were sitting in our break room, so employees could see it.”

Six bins turned into more than 30 carts brimming with stuffing mix, pasta, rice, bottled water, cereal and canned goods.

Workers who didn't have time to shop gave Davis money to buy food. This year, Lloyd Bannister, who is employed through a temporary agency and is homeless, gave his last $5 toward the food drive.

"Our employees want to give whatever they have," Davis says.

With full bins, the group needed to figure out where to deliver the food. Davis went out to find somewhere local “in the area we service.” He drove down the road to First United Methodist Church of Pinellas Park, which has a food bank.

“I pull in, and this little old lady comes out. She thought I was there for the trash,” Davis says. “I tell her, ‘We’d like to donate some food to you.'”

On the day before Thanksgiving, drivers loaded two large Waste Management trucks with the carts and delivered them to the church.

                                                                                                                    

This year, they made the delivery on a day the church was distributing food to families.

“We got to see a little of what they do and how they do it,” Davis says. “It’s wonderful to see when people are leaving there. You see them leaving with bags and bags of food. They really need it. It’s not something they’re looking at and saying, ‘We don’t want this stuff.’ They really need it.”

For the truck drivers, it’s a moment during a busy time of year to give back.

“These guys are out here on the road doing a hard job,” Davis says. “During the holiday, they’re trying to do their job, service our customers and just get some to the family because there’s so much going on. This gets them to think about others more than themselves.”

The Pinellas team wanted do more after the holiday, so they started collecting bicycles. Davis says they donated 116 bikes to the local fire department to give away to children last December.

Giving back to the community with food drives has been a standout challenge. This year, 340 of 499 Waste Management teams participated in a giving back challenge.

Dawn McCormick, director of communications and community relations for Waste Management of Florida, says many districts get involved with charitable projects, but “no one has done as much as this group has done in the last two years.”

“To see this completely led by the drivers and the people on the front lines is just really gratifying and humbling,” McCormick says. “We’re just so proud of what they have done. These drivers live here. They work long days. For them to step up in this way is very inspiring.”