In a weekly communication to the GMA staff in September 2020, Executive Director Larry Hanson sought volunteers to identify and plan an effort in which GMA staff could support others during the challenging times brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic. Participation in the committee would be completely voluntary. The response was very favorable, with 19 employees establishing the GMA Cares Committee just one week later. The committee’s goal was to complete one or more “GMA Cares” projects by the end of 2020.
The committee immediately went to work. Based on feedback from a staff survey and project vetting, the committee chose to focus on two community needs: food insecurity and assisting homeless individuals and families.
On Dec. 8, GMA Cares teamed up with Hands On Atlanta and Whitefoord, Inc. to help address the problem of food insecurity brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic. GMA staff volunteers served in two shifts at the Whitefoord food distribution location in Atlanta to help pack and distribute 12,388 pounds of food to 454 families. All work performed by GMA staff took place outside and with face coverings. To assist the homeless community, GMA Cares hosted a Donation Drive in December to support three organizations: the Atlanta Recovery Center, a transitional housing unit for men; the Gateway Center, a homeless service center (both located in close proximity to the GMA Headquarters in South Downtown Atlanta); and Sheltering Books, Inc., which provides books to homeless shelters across the United States. GMA and Local Government Risk Management Services staff volunteers collected new and gently used items from fellow staff and friends at drive-through, socially distanced, contact-free drop off events and through purchases from an Amazon wish list. In the end, GMA Cares donated 207 individual Cares Packs consisting of daily essentials, 169 new or gently used items of clothing and 315 books (including 133 children’s books), along with other miscellaneous items.
“It’s a real honor to work at a place and with fellow employees who care so much for others,” said Hanson. “We had great participation among our employees and, most importantly, made a difference in the lives of others during the holiday season.”
Hanson said, “I know this will become a new GMA tradition to give back to support others.”
This story originally appeared in the January/February 2021 edition of Georgia’s Cities magazine.