Bound to do good: Employees gather books before volunteering at book fair
November 07, 2018
For the past three years, William Sexton has volunteered with his department at Maritz for a Days of Caring project. This year, William led a team that was chosen to help The Little Bit Foundation at one of their book fairs. His team was one of more than 60 composed of nearly 500 Maritz employees who gave their time and talents to Days of Caring projects in 2018.
“I was inspired when I learned that the schools that were being helped are for underprivileged children,” William said. “I have a son in middle school, and I know how expensive some of the books can be at those school-sponsored book fairs! I grew up poor myself and know the feeling of seeing a bunch of awesome books and not being able to get any.”
So William, a customer operations supervisor with Maritz Motivation Solutions, decided to go the extra mile.
“I started collecting books by just setting an empty Xerox box on my desk and telling the rest of the contact center what I was doing,” he said. “I realized that if we really wanted to make an impact, we should open this up to more folks in the company.”
William sent an email to just about everyone in his Outlook directory that he had worked with. Kathie Smith happened to be one of those people.
“Kathie has been with Maritz for 44 years, so her network of people was just slightly larger than mine,” William joked. “Kathie helped spread the word to colleagues in other departments, and in short order, we had books flying in.”
Kathie, operations data manager, was more than happy to get involved and help expand the project. She remembered reading storybooks passed down from her great-grandmother and wanted to inspire other kids who didn’t have easy access to books.
“I’ve been a reader since I was really little,” Kathie said. “I read everything in the library and bookmobile, two books a week. William’s project really hit a nerve, because it’s important to get kids reading when they’re small so it becomes a lifetime passion.”
After word got out among a larger crowd, donations flew in, including a box that literally flew in from our Maritz office in Torrance, California.
One donated book came in with a bookmark included, which sparked the idea of creating bookmarks. Employees in our creative business, Cartwheel, and our in-house printing services designed and printed bookmarks that were shared with the kids who came to the book fair William and his colleagues helped staff.
“The kids loved the bookmarks and ate them up like Halloween candy!” William said.
In the end, Maritz employees donated 828 books (about 16 boxes full), along with 600 bookmarks and 45 drawstring bags.
“I don’t think Dana from The Little Bit Foundation believed us at first when we said we had that many books!” William said. “Luckily, we were able to get them loaded up in one trip.”
Even though he brought his own donations, William said the most rewarding part of his volunteer experience was having brief conversations with the kids to find out what they liked and then trying to match them up with something he thought they would enjoy reading.
“It was a complete team effort,” Kathie said. “Everybody kept having new ideas and contributing their time” including employees from Contract Services, who helped move and load the heavy boxes.
“I know we made a positive impact on a lot of children, and I couldn’t have done it without all of the other employees,” William said. “Who knows, we might turn this into an annual event. So the next time you spot a children’s book laying around, tuck it away, because you might be hearing from me next year.”