Aetna at the Weekend Backpack Program

Aetna NotesThe 275 children who participate in our Weekend Nutrition Program must have been pleasantly surprised when they opened their green backpacks to find the usual suspects and then some. Raisins. Pretzels. Cheese & Crackers. An extra pudding. A fruit cup. Oh my.
When Aetna’s Learning & Performance for Sales and Underwriting contacted Engagement about a team-building community service project a couple of months back, they were immediately drawn to our Backpack Program. On November 28th, nearly 30 employees arrived via school bus to South Church ready to pack 300 bags with kid-friendly foods over a 2-hour period. The company made a $3,000 donation towards the purchase of the food (2 breakfast items, 2 lunch items, snacks, drinks, etc.); this contribution afforded Hands On Hartford the ability to purchase the staple products along
with the extras.
The emploAetna Group Shotyee volunteers formed two lines on either side of the fully stocked assembly tables. At the end of the assembly line, the employees went to the note writing station to pick up inspirational hand written note-cards that their colleagues prepared to include in each child’s sack. Each volunteer had an opportunity to write cards and pack bags. The room was filled with laughs, festive music, a friendly competitive spirit and lots and lots of bags. During the project, we also took small groups down to tour the newly revamped food pantry. The volunteers were genuinely excited about the pantry and even asked great questions such as “when you get new packs of meat weekly, do you turnover thAetna Bags and Signe older content?”
The sales team finished packing the bags well within the 2 hours. They were uber efficient and energetic – one employee even commented on how much time it took him to complete a bag and wondered what the record was. After the bags were completed the team headed downstairs to a more intimate space for a reflection activity. When asked what is one word that you would use to describe today’s experience…many uttered grateful and blessed. We were also joined by two sixth grade students from Grace Academy who shared their thoughts on the Weekend Nutrition Program. They both commented that their absolute favorite food item in the bags are……you guessed it – “Goldfish.”
The reflection was two-folAetna Lined: a time to reflect and a time to celebrate as it was the birthday of two of the employees. Everyone, including the invited students were able to partake in the celebration and cake. At the end of the reflection, employees continued to ask great questions and even expressed interest in returning with their children to pack bags. The employees also collected a cash donation for the Backpack Program prior to departing. It was truly an afternoon well spent. Aetna’s Learning & Performance for Sales and Underwriting truly went above and beyond with their contribution of financial resources, man-hours and enthusiasm. Thank you Aetna for bringing smiles and much needed meals to the children we serve!

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