Power of 9: ExxonMobil volunteers go nuts and mega-size donate

BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - ExxonMobil's presence in Baton Rouge is important to the city's economy. It employs thousands of employees at both the refinery and chemical plants, and when it comes to volunteering, the company leads the way in making it fun for employees and encouraging them to look off-site
and answer community needs.

You may wonder when ExxonMobil workers are not volunteering! 9News has covered them in action numerous times this year alone. Most recently, they were helping with Christmas distributions for the Salvation Army Angel Tree program and at Hope Ministries on Winbourne. They have participated in many refurbishing projects both for schools and community centers, but also for neighborhood efforts like Better Together and Mid-City FixUp.

Exxon has always supported the Capital Area United Way's Day of Caring each year, cutting employees loose to work at the various sites United Way had set up for the intensive sweeping volunteer push. But this year, United Way ExxonMobil organizer, Linda Walker, says they decided they didn't
want to do just one day. There were so many needs out there, they decided they would spend two months to answer 14 projects this year. They named the effort the United Way "Season of Caring."

It might take too much time to detail the more than one dozen activities, but Walker says, "We have worked with the Hope Ministries. We put some stuff together for their Christmas distributions. We've worked with the Boys and Girls Clubs helping to refurbish some of their facilities. We've worked with the Livingston Parish HeadStart, helping them rebuild after the flood."

9News saw ExxonMobil sorting through the piles of donations for the Salvation Army's Angel Tree Distribution as the final part of their Season of Caring. Close to 30 Exxon employees are seriously bearing down, concentrating on the family lists they've been given, to find that perfect toy, that pair of shoes for packaging so that it's easy to distribute.

Captain Mary Meredith of the Salvation Army says they don't usually allow children to volunteer in this effort, because there is not enough staff to supervise their work. "But these children are working harder than some of the adults!" Captain Meredith laughs. "We're having not one moment of trouble with them," she exclaims.

The children are working alongside their parents, and somehow have matching t-shirts, which would seem to indicate ExxonMobil
encourages family involvement. One family with a young boy has both father and mother grabbing items and the boy being sent on special missions to find an item. The kid is smiling. He's having fun.

ExxonMobil employees actually give twice at each volunteer site. Because of the company's policy of supporting the causes their employees choose, their volunteer work gives twice. The employees obviously provide the work their hands can physically do, but there's the possibility of money from the company too.

Walker says "For every ten volunteers, every 20 hours, ExxonMobil will do a $500 gr ant to the organization."

WAFB's Donna Britt asks how employees are notified about projects and Walker says that they may just receive an email or see a flyer posted in a public work area. What is so impressive is the great number of employees who choose to answer those calls for help, making them more than worthy of our Power of 9 Award.

Louisiana Honda Dealers, the Capital Area United Way's Volunteer Center, and WAFB are proud to sponsor the Power of 9 awards. If you know someone who deserves the award, please contact the local United Way.

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