Community

How You Can Take Action in the Fight Against Hunger

Big numbers aren’t always easy to grasp, but I have one for you – 42 million. That’s how many Americans struggle with hunger, according to the USDA. To break it down a little more, that’s one in eight of us.

For the next few weeks, there’s an easy way to join the fight against hunger. By making a purchase at your local Walmart store, using your social media channels or donating at the register, you can support Walmart’s “Fight Hunger. Spark Change.” campaign and help Feeding America secure 100 million meals on behalf of member food banks.

A lot of our associates are taking it a step further by volunteering with their local food banks, like Mario Young, a department manager at one of our Charlotte, North Carolina stores.

“I've been volunteering in the Charlotte community for more than six years and with the Second Harvest Food Bank of Metrolina for over a year,” Mario said. “I love helping with different projects and especially with helping other people in the community. Through Walmart I have been able to reach more members of the community in need and am always one of the first people to volunteer for events like the one today."

Only a few hours from Charlotte, in Charleston, South Carolina, even more of our associates are giving back. Along with the Lowcountry Food Bank, our associates recently helped 300 Greeleyville Elementary students and their parents have an amazing Easter. What started off with a massive egg hunt ended with the parents being able to stock up on fresh produce – 15,000 pounds of it to be exact – donated by Walmart and distributed by our associates.

As a grocer serving millions of customers in America each week, Walmart has been working to positively impact the issue of hunger in the U.S. for many years. By collaborating with our customers, Discover card and five of the nation’s leading food companies – Campbell Soup Company, General Mills, Kellogg Company, The Kraft Heinz Company and PepsiCo – we hope to make a real difference for families who are struggling with hunger.

From April 17 – May 15, you can join the efforts in three easy ways.

Purchase Participating Products: For every purchase of specially marked products both in-store and online, the manufacturer will donate enough to help you secure one meal on behalf of Feeding America member food banks. For every Discover card transaction made in-store and online, Discover will donate the equivalent of one meal, up to $1 million.

Donate at the Register: You can make a donation to Feeding America member food banks at the checkout in any Walmart store.

Online Act of Support: We have already met our online act of support goal of donating up to $1.5 million to Feeding America on behalf of member food banks. You can still show your support by continuing to use #FightHunger on your Facebook, Instagram and Twitter and like or share Walmart provided content. You can also visit Walmart.com/FightHunger to show your support through a click.


To participate or learn more, visit Walmart.com/FightHunger.

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U.S. Manufacturing

Helping Americans Sleep Easier, Sinomax Brings Hundreds of Jobs to Tennessee

Manufacturing has always been a hallmark of Tennessee’s economy.

As commissioner for economic and community development in this great state, it’s my job to find lasting opportunities for growth and make them available to the members of our communities.

Tennessee’s commitment to innovation has put us at the forefront of today’s manufacturing renaissance. One of the more recent investments in our state comes from Sinomax – the largest producer of polyurethane foam bedding in China, which now has a facility in La Vergne, Tennessee.

We’re seeing a growing trend of companies reshoring production to the U.S., simply because it is more cost effective to produce and distribute products here. But to the members of these communities, this trend means so much more. While making it a goal to fill its workforce from the local crop of talent, Sinomax has committed to provide 350 La Vergne-area residents with high-quality, family-wage jobs.

I believe the U.S. manufacturing trend will not only continue, but also build momentum to become even more competitive in the years ahead. To stay competitive, we know that companies need a team of qualified workers who can excel in today’s manufacturing environment. Tennessee is fortunate to have an excellent governor who has truly become a pioneer in higher education. Because of initiatives like Tennessee Promise and Tennessee Reconnect, which offer all Tennesseans the chance to earn a postsecondary degree or certificate free of tuition and fees, our state leads the nation in developing and maintaining an educated, well-trained workforce.

We’re sending a clear message to employers about our commitment to building the highly-skilled workforce they need to face the future of manufacturing. And an investment in American jobs and manufacturing means we’re also providing our neighbors with an environment that creates a sustainable path into the future. We are grateful for companies like Sinomax that choose to invest in our state – and our people.

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Community

How a Passion to Help Inspired a 545-Mile Journey

In the late ’90s, while working my way through college at cafes and juice bars, I had a boss who I considered a friend. He was kind, driven and taught me a lot about hard work.

I’ll never forget the day he confided in me that he was HIV positive. This news jolted me because I was well aware of the disease and how it devastated so many people since the 80s. Had he not told me he was HIV positive, I would have been completely oblivious to this fact, as he showed no signs of having HIV – something I later learned was a stigma that is often attached to those who identify as being HIV positive.

A while later, at another job, I remember seeing street signs posted nearby about the annual AIDS Walk, an event that takes place in many large cities across the U.S. and raises awareness and funding to battle HIV/AIDS. Until then, I’d never thought about helping out – but this time was different. I decided to hand-paint a sign asking for donations and put it up in the juice bar where I worked. In only two days, I’d raised $450 just by painting a sign and committing to going for a walk.

That year I set out on the AIDS Walk by myself, but I met a lot of amazing people. They were all there for their own reasons, but also to make a difference – just like me. This was the moment I realized the impact one person can make. Together we raised thousands of dollars for the effort. I’m no hero, but I knew then that I can help save lives – just by doing something as simple as walking.

In 2010, I joined Walmart as a freelance designer. I later transitioned to a full-time associate, and eventually became the creative director of design for Walmart.com. I learned about the company’s core values, including the importance of giving back personally, professionally and institutionally. At Walmart, I knew I could make an even bigger impact with my community service efforts.

This will be my eighth year to give back by riding in AIDS/LifeCycle (ALC), an annual seven-day, 545-mile bike ride from San Francisco to Los Angeles. The mission is simple – by committing to ride a bicycle and raise money through donations, we help provide funding and services for those living with HIV/AIDS. In 2014, I helped start and lead Team Walmart which had 19 riders in the event and raised $127,000. Each year, we’ve continued to grow, and this year, we have over 60 riders from across the country, including six from Jet.com and one from Bentonville.

In four years, our team has raised over $800,000 for ALC. This year, Team Walmart/Jet.com has a goal of raising $500,000 – a lofty goal, but it’s a critical mission of giving back and doing what’s right in the fight against HIV/AIDS. This mission isn’t about me or any one person who’s participating in ALC – we all ride or volunteer in ALC for our own personal reasons, but we collectively stand together in giving back for a cause that’s bigger than us all.

The impact of one continues – except now it’s on my bike, and as one united team.

Danny Baker, above, an 8-time rider with AIDS/LifeCycle and a 4-year member of Team Walmart/Jet.com’s ALC team, was recently recognized by the San Francisco AIDS Foundation with the Ovation Award for personally raising over $50,000 with ALC.

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Sustainability

One Company is Helping Keep Walmart and Our Communities in the ‘Green’

Glenn H. Garrett set a standard for protecting community waterways long before “going green” became a common refrain.

In 1996, after witnessing the damage left behind by hurricanes earlier that year, the disabled Marine Corps veteran launched his own business, Retention Pond Services, in his hometown of Wilmington, N.C.

The storms had destroyed the basins that hold stormwater and they were overflowing. Glenn decided to do something about it. Luckily, four years in the Marine Corps – from 1980 to 1984 – prepared him for the hard work ahead.

“It’s not glamorous, not high tech. It’s done with good, old-fashioned manpower,” he said of his business.

Glenn developed a relationship with Walmart in 2002 when a store in Wilmington had a runoff issue in the parking lot. Walmart’s construction division called the state’s stormwater regulators and asked for a recommendation on whom to hire for help. Retention Pond Services was their answer.

When the same issue happened again, this time at another store, Walmart decided to expand the maintenance procedures developed with Glenn’s company. From there, it went nationwide.

Retention Pond Services now repairs, maintains and services stormwater systems for 1,200 Walmart stores and Sam’s Clubs across the U.S. The goal is to help Walmart meet rules and regulations set by the Environmental Protection Agency and reduce the risk of water pollution.

“I remember my first meeting with Walmart [representatives], and they started talking about being ‘green’. I had never heard anyone talk about green – being environmentally conscious,” he said, adding that the retailer encourages suppliers to be responsible by leading by example.

He didn’t realize it at the time, but Glenn and his company would play a major role in bringing that to fruition. He said Walmart has become a standard bearer of stormwater maintenance for big-box retailers throughout the U.S.

Retention Pond Services began with 16 employees. Fast-forward 20 years and it now employs as many as 250 workers each year, including Glenn and three other senior leaders, with clients ranging from retailers to municipalities. The number fluctuates with the seasons, but one thing remains constant – there are always military veterans like Glenn on staff. Several veterans started in junior positions and moved up through the ranks.

The business was hiring veterans before Walmart introduced its Veterans Welcome Home Commitment in 2013, but Glenn said the initiative is a great encouragement for suppliers and veterans alike. “It goes back to [Walmart] recognizing our service and appreciating what we’ve done,” he said. As a veteran himself, Glenn knows that the skills and can-do attitude learned in the military easily transfer over to civilian jobs. Glenn takes pride in his team – “I’m only as good as my worst employee” – and in protecting the environment. Much of that pride stems from his childhood in Chesapeake Bay, Maryland.

“My grandfather used to tell me how great fishing was – about catching massive fish. When I was growing up, there were no fish. The bay was essentially dead, killed by pollution and runoff.”

In the 1970s, Maryland got involved in a save-the-bay campaign, and the federal government’s Water Quality Act followed in 1987. Those actions helped return fishing in the bay to its former glory.

Caring for the environment comes at a cost, whether it be time or money, but the results are well worth it. As U.S. businesses continue to grow, Glenn and his team are ready to step in and protect our communities.

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Opportunity

Retired Store Manager Fashions Second Career Out of Dreams and Opportunity

Sometimes it’s not enough to follow your dreams. You also need someone else to see your potential.

My career at Walmart was a dream – so unanticipated! And that set me up to follow yet another dream. After nearly 20 years, I retired Feb. 17 as manager of supercenter #2914 in Massillon, Ohio, to start my own business as a fashion stylist – something I’ve been passionate about for years – and to spend more time with my precious family.

I have long had an interest in fashion, starting back when my mother was a seamstress and would create her own designs as I was growing up. Most of my wardrobe was handmade by her! I always loved how wearing something special made me feel. Working at Walmart, particularly with women, rekindled a passion in me to witness the impact of dressing well. Increased confidence, better communication, direct eye contact – we all know how that feels. Feeling positive about ourselves can be transformational.

My retail career had simple beginnings in 1997, when I was a stay-at-home mom with five small children in a single-income family. That August I was looking to get a little extra money for Christmas and applied for the first clock-in-and-out job of my life. Walmart hired me as a temporary associate despite my having dropped out of college to start a family and having zero experience in retail. I never would have dreamed I’d take a job stocking store shelves overnight and end up managing 500 people.

This company backed me every step of the way, seeing and believing in a potential I didn't recognize. One of my first store managers took a significant interest in challenging and pushing me to see opportunities that existed. It taught me how important the human touch can be.

I remember one young man who was doing a really good job as an hourly supervisor at my store. Not long after we talked about his potential, he put his job in jeopardy by clocking in late on multiple days. Instead of giving up on him, his direct supervisor asked him what was going on. He shared that his car had broken down, and with no other transportation he’d had to walk the four miles to and from the store. After hearing this, I bought him a bicycle to help put him back on the right track. He ended up going into a management program and is doing really well today.

As for me, my story has come full circle. Walmart not only gave me the acumen and process to run my own business, it also gave my husband and me the financial security to start this second phase of our lives. My baby was in kindergarten when I started my career, and now all my children are grown and college-educated. Freedom in my schedule allows me to be a stay-at-home grandma to five grandchildren.

Having been at the Massillon supercenter for the last four years, it was bittersweet to turn over my keys and the responsibility. But, I’m excited to continue being a cheerleader from the outside. The people I hired are going to go even further than I did with the belief they can have limitless careers.

Photos courtesy of Massillon Independent.

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