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VOL. 128 | NO. 183 | Thursday, September 19, 2013

FedEx Cares Week Builds Community Support

By Michael Waddell

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FedEx Corp. wraps up its ninth annual FedEx cares Week on Friday, as more than 900 local FedEx employees have volunteered in the community for a variety of organizations.

FedEx employee Kelby Loden nails siding on a Habitat for Humanity of Greater Memphis home during FedEx cares Week. More than 900 local FedEx employees are volunteering in the community during the weeklong event, which ends Friday.

(Daily News/Andrew J. Breig)

Around the world, more than 6,000 FedEx volunteers donated their time to worthy causes during the week.

“There are three key reasons why FedEx invests in community engagement: to support social sector causes, support business interests and meet expectations of employees and other stakeholders,” said Rose Flenorl, FedEx manager of global citizenship.

Activities locally included cooking breakfast for the residents of the FedExFamilyHouse, clearing trails at Shelby Farms, collecting food from a drive by Memphis Food Bank donors, building homes for Habitat for Humanity of Greater Memphis, and other work for groups like Youth Villages, Memphis Athletic Ministries and Project Homeless Connect.

“FedEx is one of our greatest partners here in the Memphis area, and they always love to come out to the build sites,” said Jessica Hord, director of marketing and communications of Habitat for Humanity of Greater Memphis. “They came in this week after the first couple of build days and helped get the homes ready for the next step, and in the next few weeks they will come out to work on two homes that will be built solely by FedEx employees.”

On Tuesday, as many as 200 FedEx employees descended on four homes at a Habitat for Humanity build site in the Uptown neighborhood, near Downtown Memphis, to work on siding, exterior painting, caulking, windows, doors, interior cleaning and prep work to get the homes ready for electrical work.

Over the years FedEx’s homebuilding volunteer work in the Mid-South, as well as outside the area working with Operation Home Delivery in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, has touched at least 35 families locally (with 22 homes completely built by FedEx employees).

“Habitat’s mission is to create home ownership and first-time home-buying opportunities for families who couldn’t otherwise qualify for a conventional mortgage,” said Hord, who points out that the organization does not require that volunteers have any prior construction experience. “Homes are sold at cost to the families that qualify, and we provide a zero interest mortgage to help break down the affordability barrier for them,” Hord said.

Habitat plans to build 50 new homes and complete 100 critical repairs of existing homes in Uptown in the next two years.

As many as 40 FedEx employees also volunteered on Tuesday at the Habitat ReStore on Winchester Road. The discount home improvement outlet is filled with tax-deductible goods donated by the public, and proceeds from all sales go back to support Habitat for Humanity.

The organizations and activities for FedEx cares Week are selected each year from a variety of sources, such as wish lists and information about specific needs of various local agencies provided by the United Way. FedEx cares Week also serves as a formal kickoff for the annual FedEx United Way volunteer campaign.

“Employees who have volunteered the previous year during FedEx cares Week and really developed a passion for what the agency they worked with is doing will let us know that more volunteers would be welcomed, and some employees who are involved in charitable organizations personally outside of FedEx will give us recommendations about agencies and organizations that could use FedEx volunteer support,” Flenorl said.

Participation is strictly voluntary.

“It often works out that many co-workers will choose to volunteer together, so it can serve as a team-building opportunity,” Flenorl said. “For instance, our IT division has adopted the Habitat for Humanity organization and has frequent team activities for their employees, even outside of FedEx cares Week.”

She believes volunteering during FedEx cares Week leads to more employee community involvement during the rest of the year.

“We have several examples of employees who volunteer during cares Week, and then get so involved with the organization that they develop a long-term volunteer relationship,” Flenorl said. “Every year we’ve seen a significant increase in the total number of volunteers. For example, the number of volunteers for FedEx cares Week in 2012 was more than 6,000 – a 36 percent increase over 2011.”

FedEx cares Week is the largest volunteer program for the company, growing from 1,600 volunteers completing 10,591 hours of volunteer service in eight cities in 2005 to more than 6,000 volunteers giving 34,000 hours of volunteer service to communities last year.

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