By Special to the Times-Georgian
This summer, Southwire’s Project GIFT® kicked off the return of in-person volunteering events, beginning with its annual Back to School giveaway. In July and August, Southwire’s west Georgia locations, along with three additional facilities, hosted in-person Back to School events, reinforcing the company’s commitment to supporting the communities in which it operates. At these events, volunteers distributed free bags of school supplies, divided into separate offerings based on grade level — one set for K-3 and another for 4-12 students.
West Georgia’s event, hosted at Midway Church in Villa Rica on July 31, was drive-thru style, allowing community members to safely receive their bags of school supplies with a minimal amount of contact with others.
“It was amazing to get back and see everyone in person,” said Blair Watkins, Project GIFT coordinator. “The community was so excited and thankful to see us doing what we do best once again.”
At the event, more than 3,500 bags of school supplies were given away to community members. The event was made possible by more than 70 volunteers who came together to serve nearly 700 cars.
“Our volunteers were so helpful at this year’s event,” said Watkins. “Many of them asked if they could stay at the event longer. You could tell that everyone was so thankful for the opportunity to serve.”
In addition to the bags distributed at the drive-thru event, 2,500 bags of school supplies were delivered directly to local nonprofits who support students throughout the west Georgia and east Alabama area, bringing the grand total to more than 6,000 bags of school supplies given away to community members and school systems.
Outside of the west Georgia area, three Southwire facilities held in-person Back to School events with the help of Project GIFT volunteers.
In Bremen, Ind., volunteers from Southwire’s Bremen Plant hosted a Back to School giveaway event at the local Farmer’s Market. At the event, 20 volunteers gave away more than 400 bags to area residents, Southwire’s facility in Florence, Ala. hosted an in-person event on July 24 with a group of around 20 volunteers. After distributing the bags to the local community, the group donated the remaining bags directly to the Florence City School system and Lauderdale County School system. Altogether, the plant gave away 800 bags of free school supplies.
Southwire’s facility in Huntersville, N.C., partnered with Angels and Sparrows, a soup kitchen in the Huntersville area, to put on their event. Southwire supplied the bags and event volunteers while Angels and Sparrows reached out to local neighborhoods and schools to advertise the event. At the end of the event, the Huntersville Plant donated the remaining bags of school supplies for the soup kitchen staff to distribute, bringing Huntersville’s total number of bags given away to more than 1,100.
“It was nice to physically get back out there and volunteer,” said Sarah Ursitti, employee at Southwire’s Huntersville facility. “We’ve volunteered alongside Angels and Sparrows many times, so it was refreshing to reconnect our partnership at this year’s Back to School giveaway.”
Southwire’s giving back communities that did not host in-person events were able to make a direct impact to local students by directly donating bags of school supplies to school systems in their respective communities. Across all Southwire facilities, a total of 30,000 bags of school supplies were donated as part of the 2021 Back to School giveaway.
“What we saw as a recurring theme during this year’s events was a sense of thankfulness,” said Watkins. “Volunteers and community members alike expressed their gratitude for the fact that Southwire continues to give back and were grateful to see our Project GIFT team in action, in-person, once again.”