For over half a decade, employees at Eaton Corporation have filled the conference spaces at both of their locations in Buncombe County, N.C. with hundreds of backpacks and school supplies. Boxes, filled with index cards, No. 2 pencils, notebooks, binders, and anything else a grade-school student might need, take over the conference room space. The Eaton employees who have volunteered their time work efficiently and joyously as they pack school supplies into hundreds of backpacks.
“We are in a fortunate position to have steady jobs and we can give back. A lot of people are in unfortunate positions due to a wide range of reasons...”, said Kevin McDonald, who is the Technical Resource Center Manager at Eaton Care Distribution and Control Solutions as well as a board member at United Way of Asheville and Buncombe County, “Usually, it’s not that difficult to get however many people we need for a volunteer event like the School Supply Drive. We can always find people who want to help and volunteer”.
McDonald regularly works with United Way of Asheville and Buncombe County to support the community in various ways. The annual School Supply Drive is a staple in the Buncombe-Eaton community. McDonald noted, “[volunteering] is built into our company culture, it’s all about community involvement… In 2020, Eaton employees volunteered 33 thousand hours as a company whole.”
Although the few hours Eaton employees spent sorting and packing school supplies may seem small compared to 33 thousand volunteer hours, the event advanced the United Way of Asheville and Buncombe County’s annual School Supply Drive and made it possible to pack over 2,300 backpacks.
Only a week after Eaton held their two pack and sort volunteer events, all 2,300 + backpacks were in the hands of more than 30 distribution partners from across almost all unique communities inside Asheville and Buncombe County. Having a diverse range of partner distributors is essential in ensuring that all children and families who are in need are receiving the necessary school supplies. “Diversity and inclusion are at the highest levels of our company and that fits well with UWABC. It comes down to supporting people and helping people get to opportunities they want and need and if you do that it gives them a chance to succeed”, said McDonald. The annual School Supply Drive gave Eaton employees the chance to directly help the many diverse communities of this region continue to grow and thrive.
In partnership with volunteers, distributors ensure students are walking into grade school on the first day prepared with the basic classroom supplies and this is only one way that Eaton supports United Way of Asheville and Buncombe County in achieving the Bold Community Goal. Our Bold Community Goal, of having all Asheville City and Buncombe county students graduate from high school ready and fully prepared to pursue their goals and dreams, focuses on the success of all community members through the lens of youth education. We do this because research shows that graduation from high school is a powerful predictor of future success for both the student and the neighborhood they live in. A brighter future for students translates to more positive health outcomes for our students and families. Efforts, like Eaton’s workplace volunteer opportunity, advance the overall health and livelihood of our unique communities.
“Coming back to Eaton’s culture”, said McDonald, “we want the communities we live in to be vibrant, I think we can bring a lot of ideas and skills into local communities to help work with them to make them better.” For Eaton and UWABC, one of the first steps to continuing to support the vibrant and diverse communities within the county is ensuring that their internal community has the opportunity to volunteer and engage in meaningful ways.