On Wednesday, March 16, I joined several Viacom employees, along with our Employee Resource Group HERE, to create care packages for families affected by the water crisis in Flint, Michigan. We worked through Shower to the People, a charity organization run by the nonprofit Family to Family, which assists impoverished families in America by uniting them with families who have significantly more resources.
We gathered in a conference room at 1515 Broadway to put together the care packages. Event leader and Viacom employee Sarah Nix explained that they would go to those who lacked running water in their home.
At first, the assembly was daunting. An array of toiletries lay across the table, and we didn’t have an equal number of each item. Nix organized an assembly line so we could create packages of shampoo, conditioner, deodorant, soap, soap containers, toothbrushes, toothpaste, toothbrush holders, and towels. We then placed the items in VH1 backpacks. We noted which items we had a surplus of, and which items we needed more of. A few volunteers offered to purchase the additional items, and several other members of HERE dropped by throughout the afternoon to deliver more toiletries.
An upbeat, productive energy emanated from the volunteers. Even though it was a bit stressful when we ran out of items, we kept assembly line moving briskly. Since most of us volunteers had to return to work, we focused on creating care packages and didn’t make much small talk. Still, the mood was anything but somber. It was cathartic to let myself focus on the rote task of assembling packages. And it was exciting to devote time to such a worthwhile cause.
Nix and the rest of the event organizers decided to extend the charity for a few more days to give employees time to buy more supplies to make additional bath packs. Our goal was to create 50 total and send any additional toiletries directly to the charity organizers in Flint.
We made every effort to ensure the residents of Flint would be satisfied with their care packages. Sarah Harp, a member of HERE, adopted the role of quality controller, checking every care package to ensure we didn’t miss any items. We set aside special, kid-friendly products to make bath packs for children. This included Suave for Kids two-in-one shampoo and conditioner and miniature towels.
In less than an hour, we had assembled more than 30 bags. We spent the rest of the afternoon organizing the leftover toiletries and making lists of which items we needed to complete our goal of 50 bath packs.
Viacom is one of many generous groups donating their time and resources to the water crisis in Flint. Hastings-on-Hudson High School in upstate New York also recently participated in the cause, assembling 127 bags. The Boys & Girls Club of Greater Flint filled 500 bags at a recent event. This effort is ongoing, and anyone wishing to help the residents of Flint with a bath pack can do so by emailing the organization asking how to make your own bag or purchasing items from the Amazon Wish List for Shower to the People.
As a relatively new Viacom employee, I relished the chance to take part in a charity event like this. I am grateful I experienced working with an Employee Resource Group like HERE, and I look forward to their next event.