Why We Volunteer: In ‘Pursuit’ of Personal & Professional Pride

Levi Strauss & Co.
April 26, 2017

Levi Strauss & Co. encourages employees to take five hours a month of paid time to volunteer in their communities. Here’s how one employee, Hilary, uses that time.

In 2004, Hilary Boley had been with Levi Strauss & Co. for a couple years and her daughters were in daycare. The daycare was housed in a church. Those members asked if Hilary could volunteer any time or resources to Presbyterian Night Shelter: a homeless shelter in Fort Worth, Tex., and Hilary happily agreed.

Fast forward slightly to 2007, when she watched The Pursuit of Happyness, a movie starring Will Smith — and was subsequently inspired to commit the Westlake, Tex. office of LS&Co. to a monthly challenge in support of the Presbyterian shelter: making and delivering 350 sandwiches per month to the homeless. The team was onboard — and have kept it going for the last 10 years.

“Each person has their little job, we do it at lunch, and it’s just really a lot of fun,” Hilary says, describing the sandwich assembly line that doubles as a team-builder.

Presbyterian Night Shelter is the largest provider of services to the county’s homeless, sheltering approximately 670 people each night. People taking part in the service receive a hot dinner, shelter for the night, a hot breakfast, and two sandwiches before they leave.

Hilary was once responsible for supplies — the local grocery store came to expect her visits — a task that has since been inherited by colleague Lisa Gardner. Indeed, the team is essential in these volunteer efforts, Hilary says, tipping her hat to Lisa and Ed Gazinski, another colleague. Ed, in fact, was the one who found their creative solution to funding: a vending machine. That’s right; not only does this team make and deliver sandwiches, they found a way to fund it as well.

Costs came out to nearly $100 each month for baloney, mustard, sandwich bags, butcher paper, and gloves. In the project’s early days, directors, managers and employees would just contribute their own money to the cost in support. But what if they sold their own cokes and snacks from a vending machine solely to fund these volunteer efforts? Ed found the machine on Craigslist, and the rest was history.


Lisa, Ed, and Hilary

“It’s been this metamorphosis from this little thing, doing a favor for some teachers, into this huge thing LS&Co. has committed to,” Hilary says.

Lisa tracks all of the volunteer hours they put in, and LS&Co. provides end-of-year grants for the shelter, in addition to the monthly sandwich haul. Hilary makes the monthly deliveries, as the night shelter is on her way home on the south side of Fort Worth.

Hilary estimates they’ve made, at the rate of 350 sandwiches every month, more than 50,000 sandwiches.

“You bond with people doing this kind of work,” Hilary says. “We bring the volunteer opportunity to the office and everyone is ready to chip in.

“We use a saying here: ‘Work Smarter Instead of Harder'” Hilary continued. And that’s what we did; we brought the volunteer opportunity to the office and, in doing so, had the opportunity to feed more than 50,000 homeless people.”