After years of practice, the employees at AGI-MFS/York/Stormor/Brownie had an annual holiday tradition down pat.
For the 15th year, workers at the local company packaged up food baskets Monday for those in need.
A crew of about 30 from various departments worked like clockwork putting together 55 baskets that were full to the brims with canned and boxed food. The baskets were then wrapped and ready for delivery to the Heartland United Way in just a matter of minutes.
The custom started as a Christmas project for AGI-MFS, said Kevin Trapp, who works in sales and heads a committee that organizes the effort. It has grown significantly since it got off the ground.
Starting around Thanksgiving, a free-will collection is taken as employees can give monetary donations to purchase food. The cash donations given by workers at AGI-MFS are matched locally. The parent company, AGI, also gives an additional donation.
The first year, enough was raised to put together two food baskets. It has taken off so well that the number has continued to increase. Last year 45 baskets were assembled.
“They look forward to it every year,” Trapp said about the employees.
Virtually everyone at the company pitches in to help.
“We have about 130 employees. The majority of them contribute one way or another. Some of them give cash but can’t help load the baskets. Then there are those who can’t give cash but can help load baskets,” said controller Alison Shafer-Beckstrom.
Employees Kevin Gautier and Tammy Frauen have given donations and worked packaging the baskets for the past several years. They were among those in the assembly line set up Monday assisting to prepare the latest batch of baskets. They said they get involved because they like helping others.
Gautier also said it’s nice to have so many people at AGI-MFS come together for a common cause that supports local families.
The baskets will go to those in the United Way’s Adopt-a-Family program.
Families in the program are matched with Secret Santas who purchase gifts for them that they otherwise would have gone without during the holiday season, said Cammie Benson, United Way holiday programs director.
“This is a super, fun bonus where we can pair the gifts with a nice food basket for those families,” Benson said.
There are 50 families in the program this year, including two adopted by AGI-MFS, who will each receive a food basket. The other baskets will also go to families.
Benson said the donations by AGI-MFS employees are very important to help reach those in need.
“You don’t know what it’s like to be in that situation until you are in it. That food basket can bring so much hope to families who are going through a difficult time and need that extra hand up,” she said.