Santa Monica, Calif.
The Big Blue Bus
Every year, Santa Monica’s Big Blue Bus employees look forward to putting on their “holiday best,” not only to benefit the community at large, but also to celebrate the contributions made throughout the year by fellow co-workers.
Something everyone eagerly looks forward to right after Thanksgiving is our annual holiday bus wrap, which has signaled the start of the holiday season in the community since the 1950s. Once a year, we bend our own policy and allow a full holiday bus wrap to be done, which we then send out on its merry way along a different route each day, acting as a sort of giant, moving greeting card. Recent themes have included whimsical dancing snowmen, ice-skating penguins, and reindeers playing instruments in the windows. Many families tell us they try to get a picture taken every year in front of the holiday bus, or at least try to catch a ride on it, which then becomes part of their own family tradition for the holidays.
The employees of the city of Santa Monica also start gearing up in late November for the annual FOOD FIGHT food drive, which for the past 10 years has become an increasingly fierce competition between city departments, lead by the Big Blue Bus, to see who can donate the most food. I’m happy to report that the Big Blue Bus team has come in first for most of the past decade, collecting, along with other departments, a total of over 43,000 pounds of food last year alone. This represented the largest donation of food the service agency received from a single source.
December marks our safety awards presentation, which gives our employees an extra reason to be proud for all their hard work during the year. This special event, which recognizes driver and maintenance safety records, honors five outstanding employees with Vision Awards for innovation, leadership, community service, integrity and continuous improvement. The Vision Awards are an important way to recognize individuals who really live the values and behaviors of the Big Blue Bus. The highlight of the event is the famous maintenance department BBQ, which gives everyone a chance to relax and catch up with co-workers. Judging by the pictures taken every year, the camaraderie shared at this event by employees is enough to put a happy holiday smile on just about anyone’s face, including the Grinch’s!
Dallas Area Rapid Transit
With so much going on every holiday season it’s easy to lose sight of what’s really important this time of year and everyday; family, friends and community. Fortunately Dallas Area Rapid Transit (DART) is blessed with a workforce that keeps each one of us connected to the spirit of the season, the spirit of giving.
Each year employees take it upon themselves to develop and support a variety of local charity drives. They range from the usual United Way fundraising and blood drives to bus-stuffing food and clothing campaigns, and a home renovation program called “Hearts and Hammers.”
For 13 years DART employees have waged a “Friendly Food Fight” where departments compete against each other to collect food and raise cash for the Union Gospel Mission of Dallas. In 2009 employees and consultants collected more than 15 tons of food and raised nearly $15,000 – equaling another 48 tons of food for the charity that provides meals and other assistance to Dallas area men, women and children. In just the past seven years about 143,000 pounds or the approximate weight of just under five DART buses has been collected for this program.
Stuffing buses with food, toys and warm clothes and blankets are part of two popular employee-based programs, “Comforting of the Soul” and the DART Police “Santa Cops.” In both programs customers and local media are engaging in filling buses with a variety of winter and holiday essentials. “Comforting of the Soul” targets some local senior citizen facilities. Last year about 145 needy families received holiday meals, toys and clothes through the DART Santa Cops program.