United Rentals Digs Deep to Help St. Mary’s Food Bank End Hunger

United Rentals' 20 Moments of Service continues with a Rock'n partnership, St. Mary's Food Bank.

Rock and roll music plays over the speakers. A small crowd of people gathers, laughing, chatting and enjoying themselves. The setting isn’t a trendy restaurant or bar: It’s St. Mary’s Food Bank in Phoenix, Arizona. And the crowd consists of United Rentals employees, here to participate in a “Rock ’n Box” event during which they’ll box up emergency food kits for families in need.

It’s a terrific turnout, one for which Jerry Brown, St. Mary’s director of public relations, is deeply grateful. “United Rentals is what we call a ‘Hunger Hero,’” he said. “They assist us in three ways: with food donations, funds and by giving us their time. They basically step up and just say, ‘How can we help?’”

The three-year-old partnership began at the suggestion of Jennifer Wireman, a maintenance services technical manager at United Rentals. She first volunteered at St. Mary’s on her own, as part of a college community service requirement.

“I chose St. Mary’s because they are the nation’s oldest food bank,” said Wireman. She found the experience so meaningful that she kept volunteering after school ended. “Helping to get food to those in need is extremely satisfying,” she noted.

A few years ago, Wireman became part of the corporate events team at United Rentals’ Scottsdale office, tasked with identifying charities and community service opportunities to support. St. Mary’s, the team agreed, was a natural choice.

Since then, United Rentals has aided the food bank in several ways. Each year it holds a “funds and food” drive during which employees donate money and pantry staples to be sent to St. Mary’s. In the latest drive, which wraps up August 11, the company sought to raise enough money to supply more than 50,000 meals in honor of St. Mary’s 50th anniversary. The team knocked that goal out of the park.

In addition to donations, the team also spent part of the day volunteering at the recent Rock-N-Box event, an assembly line-style project with the goal to fill as many emergency food boxes as possible.

“It is hot and humid in the warehouse, but everyone worked hard and had fun at the same time,” said Wireman. “I have even been asked about volunteering more, so I think that people really enjoyed the experience.” Together, the team created some 3,000 emergency boxes.

It’s this kind of support that St. Mary’s relies on to execute its mission. “We have 150 fulltime employees, but we distribute enough food each day to equal 250,000 meals,” Brown explained. The food is distributed across the state, helping people in two-thirds of Arizona’s counties.

“It’s something we can’t manage to do without the help of great corporate partners, and we are very lucky to be a part of United Rentals’ charitable focus,” said Brown. “When they have drives, there’s no trouble getting people to step up and donate. United has really embraced the cause.”

Wireman isn’t surprised at the extent of her company’s commitment. “United Rentals is an excellent company to work for. They have a big heart and a terrific sense of community involvement. The support they give their employees by allowing us to bring awareness to and help those in need in our local communities shows just how much heart our company has. I am very proud to be a part of the United Rentals team.”

To learn more about St. Mary's, visit http://www.firstfoodbank.org/.