As a public transit agency, it is SunLine Transit Agency’s mission to provide the community with safe, reliable transportation. When there is an opportunity to go beyond that responsibility to serve the community in other capacities, we jump on it. Four years ago, SunLine initiated its annual holiday “Fill-the-Bus” food drive benefiting charity organizations with non-perishable food and other essential items for families in need. With the effects of the economy hitting many families of the Coachella Valley hard, the food drive has become crucial to charity organizations that have struggled with acquiring donations and have experienced an increase in demand for service. Last year in the eye of the storm, we found that the spirit of giving and compassion is alive and well. With buses stationed at grocery stores throughout the Valley, SunLine staff encourages people to donate what they can. Each year the generosity demonstrated by the community far exceeds expectations. Children standing in line to board the bus to share their donation with those less fortunate; those who appear to be in need themselves, giving that one can of food to those who have less. The pride in “giving” is felt by all who contribute, as well as SunLine employees and the volunteers from recipient organizations.
At SunLine, each employee is viewed as part of a team, an “investor” to the success of the agency. As the end of the year approaches and in the spirit of “Thanksgiving” and reflection, SunLine hosts employee events throughout the holiday season. The Maintenance Department holds a yearly Thanksgiving potluck and dessert contest. The employees bring in family favorite holiday dishes; and the dessert contest is fierce! The bottom line — all employees take time out of their busy schedules to share a festive meal and give thanks for their many blessings!
In addition, the agency hosts a holiday gala to show its appreciation for the contribution of each employee to the agency and to residents and visitors of the Coachella Valley. The event is a time for all employees, as well as SunLine board members, to enjoy great food, celebrate the agency’s accomplishments and to kick off their shoes and dance the night away!
The SunLine family looks to the new year with continued hope to accomplish its goals, which includes providing service in many forms to the Coachella Valley.
San Antonio, Texas
VIA Metropolitan Transit
Workers at VIA Metropolitan Transit in San Antonio have been using their own money to spread holiday tidings across the Alamo City since 1995. That’s the year they first started the Blue Jeans for Needy Families program.
The program is a volunteer effort that encourages employees to wear jeans on Fridays in exchange for a one-dollar donation to the Blue Jeans fund. The proceeds generated by the employees are then used to benefit many charities in the greater metropolitan area through such annual activities as an Easter basket delivery and a back-to-school shopping trip for disadvantaged children. But the first successful venture to develop out of the Blue Jeans program was the delivery of holiday gift bags.
In December 1995, donations to the Blue Jeans fund were used to purchase food gift certificates for 12 families across the city. The United Way of San Antonio and Bexar County provided the family profiles to the VIA liaison, and representatives from all departments at the agency also collected non-perishable foods, clothing, toys and other gifts. Then the VIA employees delivered the bags of goods to the families identified by the United Way.
Since then VIA employees have expanded their outreach during the holiday season, and through the years the Blue Jeans fund has been used to provide gift bags and cards to hundreds of needy children, disabled adults, hospitalized veterans and single parents.
In addition to the gifts passed out around Christmastime, the Blue Jeans fund also pays for the annual Easter Basket project. Each spring, VIA employees donate eggs, candy, stuffed animals and other items appropriate for Easter baskets. The employees then assemble the baskets and pass them out to children in need of assistance.
VIA employees also help children when it is time to go back to school. Each summer, VIA joins with Communities in Schools, an educational empowerment organization, to select local children that need help obtaining school supplies. The chosen children are taken to a local Target store by VIA employees, who then assist them in buying school supplies that are paid for by the program. Through the Blue Jeans for Needy Families program, VIA employees can assist charities in the greater metropolitan area. The workers themselves benefit from improved morale resulting from good deeds, and VIA itself gains a good reputation in the community. All this is had for the price of a one-dollar donation each Friday.
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.