Avery Dennison Corporate / Building a culture of volunteerism

Building a culture of volunteerism

Avery Dennison’s Granting Wishes program gives employee generosity the space to shine

Sometimes the opportunity to make a difference is as close as your commute to work.

Avery Dennison’s Sanjeev Sharma first learned about the All India Confederation of the Blind (AICB) as a child, when his father, a social worker, would sometimes mention the organization. Years later, when Sanjeev was working at Avery Dennison’s office near New Delhi, he passed a school run by AICB on his way to work. One day he decided to stop in and see how he could help. He began supporting the organization financially and visiting with students a couple of times a year. Later, he hosted students for a celebration of India Independence Day, and, on another occasion, collected donations for AICB from friends and coworkers.

Then, last year, Sanjeev was able to make an even bigger difference for AICB thanks to a Granting Wishes grant from the Avery Dennison Foundation. In addition to securing a cash donation for AICB, Sanjeev and a number of his colleagues spent a day at the school, getting to know students and watching them perform music, speeches, and a play. The day left an impression.

“The employees who took part became highly emotional,” says Sanjeev. “One of my co-workers said he couldn’t sleep after seeing the challenges that the students face.”

Granting Wishes is one of the most effective ways Avery Dennison supports communities worldwide. The program is driven by employees, who nominate local organizations for a $3,000 USD donation and an employee-designed volunteer project.

“When we hear about corporate philanthropy, we often think of big companies writing big checks,” says Janet Sandoval, Director, Global Corporate Social Responsibility & Avery Dennison Foundation. “But for a company like Avery Dennison, whose people and facilities are part of everyday life in so many places, empowering employees to give at the grassroots level and supporting them in building relationships with local NGOs is one of the most meaningful ways we can help strengthen communities.”

Susan Rohan and her coworkers in Avery Dennison’s corporate offices in Cork, Ireland, had a similar experience when they used secured a Granting Wishes grant to support nearby Marymount University Hospital and Hospice.

“Almost every employee has been touched by the hospice,” Susan said. “A number of employees have lost a grandparent, a parent, a sibling, or a child who ended up under palliative care. Our team was passionate in wanting to give something back.”

Susan and her colleagues helped refresh the facility’s day-care patio and walkway by weeding, sweeping and painting to make it more welcoming. “We had such an excellent response to our calls for volunteers that we had enough people for two full days of volunteering,” she said.

Enthusiastic Avery Dennison volunteers also turned up one morning at Casa de la Chinca, an NGO in Medellín, Colombia, that houses and educates about 50 at-risk girls aged eight to 23.

“We knew about Casa de la Chinca through our volunteer work with United Way, and it touched our hearts,” explained Avery Dennison’s Joan Zapata. “Some of the girls were taken from their families for their own safety; others have no family, but are not eligible for adoption.”

Joan and his colleagues spent part of a day working with girls making ideotropos, an educational toy used to teach reading and math while sparking creative play.

“Once we finished the ideotropos, the games started,” recalls Joan. “The girls invented stories, practiced addition and subtraction, did some spelling exercises, and played noughts and crosses. It was really fun.” When the games were finished, the volunteers gave the ideotropos to Casa de la Chinca’s teachers, together with a manual describing 50 learning activities to use in their classrooms.

In the U.S., Juli Wachholtz and a number of her fellow RBIS employees in Dallas pitched in to help with a back-to-school event for inpatients at the Texas Scottish Rites Hospital for Children.

“We helped the children decorate composition books with decorative duct tape and stickers. We had no idea using duct tape to decorate notebooks could be so much fun, and the children had a blast,” Juli says. “There were so many smiles on their faces. It filled us with joy to see their happiness and be part of such a special event. The hospital’s mission statement is ‘Giving Children Back Their Childhood,’ and we were part of doing just that. The children could take their minds off of the reason they were in the hospital and just have fun.”

All told, Avery Dennison employees around the world supported 92 NGOs through Granting Wishes in 2018, donating more than $276,000 USD and over 2,500 volunteer hours. Projects included teaching kids about plastics pollution in Vietnam; renovating the kitchen of an NGO in Romania; organizing an event for refugee families in Germany; reaching out to military veterans in the U.S.; reforesting a national park in Mexico; and dozens more community-oriented efforts.

Janet Sandoval says Granting Wishes is a natural fit for a company whose founder, Stan Avery, made community service a bedrock principle - one still exemplified through regular volunteerism by our employees in the 50+ countries where the company has a presence today.

“One of the things people love about working at Avery Dennison is that we’re values-driven,” she says. “Granting Wishes is one of the biggest opportunities for us to put those values to work and really make a difference, person-to-person, in our local communities.”

Learn more about The Avery Dennison Foundation’s support of employee volunteerism, and its other programs, here.

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