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Edison Volunteers Pack Food for Needy in Orange County

About 175 employees, families and friends filled more than 6,000 food boxes for the holidays at the Orange County Food Bank’s National Family Volunteer Day event.
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Stories : Giving Back
Stories : Giving Back

Edison Volunteers Pack Food for Needy in Orange County

About 175 employees, families and friends filled more than 6,000 food boxes for the holidays at the Orange County Food Bank’s National Family Volunteer Day event.
Photo Credit: Elisa Ferrari
Video Credit: Joseph Foulk
Rob Vernon, an SCE planner, moves one of the 6,080 food box Edison employees packed.
Rob Vernon, an SCE planner, moves one of the 6,080 food boxes Edison employees packed.

Ellie Christian could barely see over the four boxes of corn biscuits cereal she had wrapped in her arms, precariously balancing them with her upturned chin. But the ponytailed 5-year-old, wearing an oversized yellow Edison International volunteer T-shirt that fell to her knees, was determined.

The girl edged over to an empty cardboard box and let go, dumping all four cereal packages inside. Ellie then carefully arranged one cereal box on each end of one carton, just like she had been shown, and took the other two out to put in a separate carton.

Ellie’s mother, Helen, a Southern California Edison recruiter, smiled at how seriously her daughter was taking her job.

“I want us to understand what the act of giving is and make it part of every day,” Helen said.

Ellie Christian left helps back a food box with corn biscuit cereal.
Ellie Christian (left) helps pack a food box with corn biscuit cereal.

We have long supported the Orange County Food Bank. It’s especially important at this time of year.”

Ron Nichols, SCE President

The Christians were among 175 Edison employees and their friends and family who participated recently in the Orange County Food Bank’s 14th annual National Family Volunteer Day event.

Working on a manual assembly line under a white canopy in the food bank’s parking lot, the Edison volunteers packed box after box with the same food: two boxes of cereal, two cans of tuna, two cans of peaches, four cans of green beans, one jar of peanut butter, one bottle of apple juice, one box of powdered milk and one bag of rice. Each box is considered enough to supplement a vulnerable senior for a month.

“This is such an important event,” said Mark Lowry, OC Food Bank director. “Everyone thinks of Orange County as affluent, but we have at least 316,000 residents in need who are food insecure.”

He said the food bank had two goals for the National Family Volunteer Day event.

“We wanted to package enough food boxes to get through the holiday season and provide a meaningful volunteer experience,” Lowry said.

Caroline Choi, SCE senior vice president of Regulatory Affairs, packs boxes of dried milk at an OC Food Bank event.
Caroline Choi, SCE senior vice president of Regulatory Affairs, packs boxes of dried milk at an OC Food Bank event.

Rob Vernon, a planner in SCE’s Santa Ana office, thinks it is such a meaningful experience that he has made the volunteer day a family tradition. This year he brought eight other family members, including his children and sister-in-law.

“It’s a good experience for them to learn to give,” Vernon said.

With so many ages and sets of hands, the Vernon family filled a variety of roles on the assembly line.  The son, Ethan, 12, packed cans of green beans at one end of the line while dad was at the other end of the line loading the packed cartons on a pallet for distribution.

The food bank’s Lowry said the goal for the day was to pack 30,000 food boxes, but the 1,400 volunteers from 11 Orange County companies easily topped that. The various teams filled 31,682 boxes. Edison’s volunteers led the day’s event, packing 6,080 boxes during their two two-hour shifts. Edison International also donated $5,000.

Ron Nichols, SCE president, who pitched in on the assembly line taping the filled boxes closed, called it a great volunteer effort for Edison, noting it’s one way for employees to give back to the community they live and work in.

“We have long supported the Orange County Food Bank,” he said. “It’s especially important at this time of year.”

Edison employees prepare a cardboard carton to pack cereal and other food for needy seniors.
Edison employees prepare a cardboard carton to pack cereal and other food for needy seniors.
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