Employees of Alaska Airlines and Horizon Air have set a new record with their annual Pack the Plane charity drive, this year raising $44,000 and donating almost 13,000 pounds of food.
Sixty company teams in 30 cities across the U.S., seven of them in Alaska, work in a variety of ways every fall to help disadvantaged people in their communities. Each $5 donation a enables a local food bank to purchase 32 pounds of food, while any food collected goes direct to the charities concerned.
The initiative began in 2009 and forms part of Operation Air Care, a wider series of annual events sponsored by Alaska and Horizon to support community organizations through financial assistance and employee volunteerism.
“We’ve beaten the previous record every year,” said Claire Sowers, programs and events specialist. “Our amazing employees stepped it up and beat the record again. I could not be more proud.”
The Anchorage cargo team was the top contributor this year, with a donation of $5,062 and 216 pounds of food. Carrie Vanderwood, administrative assistant and leader of the team, said the group raised money by selling baked goods, Mexican food and pizza. A customer service agent in her department, Emie Diamond, prepared more than 100 portions of Thai and Filipino food for company employees.
Alaska Air’s Flight Operations and Training Center in Seattle donated even more food, with 300 pounds. Trish Barney, pilot scheduling supervisor, said: “This time of year there are many causes to donate to, but food is very important and we can’t imagine having to go hungry. We like to think of all the families we were able to help with our donations.”
Boise call center agent MaryLou Buchta said her team built a replica of a cargo warehouse area and challenged everyone to see how much food they could put there. “We didn’t do anything special—we just asked and the office gave like they always do,” she said.