Hospital’s ‘Operation Give Back’ helps fill food bank shelves

Written by Mardi Ford for The Observer December 07, 2011 08:17 pm
For more than a decade, Grande Ronde Hospital’s employees have worked together to organize an annual food drive. The food drive kicks off just before Halloween, making Operation Give Back one of the earliest and, with more than 500 employees, one of the single largest efforts to fill local food bank shelves before the Thanksgiving holiday. This year, hospital and clinic employees and auxiliary volunteers donated a total of 4,005 pounds of food, paper products and personal care items to Community Connections over the course of the three-week drive.

Donations came in almost daily, as friendly competition between teams and departments drove the weekly totals of giving higher.

The donation for week one weighed 915 pounds, week two’s donation weighed 1,120 pounds, and the final delivery the Friday before Thanksgiving weighed a whopping 1,970 pounds.

 “Community Connection and all our participants wish to personally thank the employees of Grande Ronde Hospital for all their support this year. The fact is we couldn’t serve as many people as we do without the generous support of donors like the GRH employees,” said Carmen Gentry, Community Connections’ food bank director.

Something new this year, the Employee Activities Committee – which coordinates the annual food drive – allowed cash donations as well as groceries.

Kicking in the first $100 from the EAC activity budget, employees generously gave another $1,375 for a total cash donation of $1,475. According to Gentry, the cash donation allows her to purchase an additional 7,375 pounds of food from the Oregon Food Bank Network, and raises Operation Give Back’s total donation in pounds to 11,380 pounds of food.

“So, really, the GRH drive is bigger than most people think,” said Gentry.  “I am very happy that GRH decided to do a food drive for us again this year - we appreciate each and every one of your staff.” 

GRH Foundation Manager Meredith Lair oversees the EAC and says adding the new option to make cash donations gives the local food bank more flexibility in stocking its shelves, and offers hospital employees another way to participate.

 Adding new ideas and options also keeps the long-standing hospital tradition fresh.

 “Operation Give Back, as we now call it, has grown exponentially over the years through the creativity of our employee committee. With new and fun contests that encourage staff, physicians and volunteers to participate. Our clinics and departments did an amazing job. This is a project we all feel passionate about,” says Lair.

 The EAC developed donation lists for each team, department or clinic that included a variety of proteins, juices, vegetables, carbohydrates and personal care products – enough to be challenging while not overwhelming the smaller teams’ ability to complete at least one.

Some took the friendly competition to heart and gave above and beyond everyone’s expectations.

 This year, Lair says, the GRH Women’s and Children’s Clinics took first place for completing an unprecedented 13 lists.

Three teams tied for second place with 7 filled lists each; the Rehab Therapy Department and Hospital Pharmacy joined forces to compete as a group, as did the Accounting and Information Technology departments.

The Business Office completed its seven lists on its own. In all, a total of 69 lists were completed.