Social Empowerment: Ex Officio sets giving example for others this season

Ex Officio will forgo its annual Christmas party this year and spend the time helping Northwest Harvest organize, pack and ship food for needy families.
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In this busy season of holiday shopping, gift giving and gift getting, the employees and management at Seattle-based Ex Officio made a company decision that embraces the true spirit of the Christmas season — forgo the annual company Christmas party in favor of those more in need.

Instead of spending money on company frivolity, eggnog and personal celebration, the entire Ex Officio staff has informed SNEWS® that on December 14, beginning at 1 p.m., they will pour all of their energy into helping Northwest Harvest — www.northwestharvest.org — organize, pack and ship food for many needy families in the Seattle area. Northwest Harvest was founded in 1967 and currently serves between 1,200 and 1,700 people every Monday and Wednesday of every week.

“2005 has been a year of widespread devastation, loss and suffering. Many families continue to struggle in the wake of the tsunami and Katrina. As we go on about our holiday gluttony, many people have no food and no shelter. Our efforts at Northwest Harvest will help organize food deliveries that will bring a meal to many unfortunate people in our home town," wrote Rick Hemmerling, Ex Officio's president in a recent memo to employees acknowledging the selfless decision.

And the holiday season giving doesn't stop there for Ex O.

>> As part of the Salvation Army's "Adopt a Family Program," the Ex O staff will provide clothing, shoes, cooking supplies and toys for an entire family, parents and four children between the ages of 2 and 8. Ex Officio has also teamed up with folks at Shakespeare to be able to offer the entire family fishing gear to enjoy.

>> The company funded a Thanksgiving meal for 250 Seattle women in need that was served by Noel House — www.noelhouse.org. Noel House programs provide safe and comfortable shelter for a diverse community of homeless women, particularly those most vulnerable.

>> Ex Officio donated 10 percent of all online sales throughout the month of September to Northwest Medical Teams and World Concern to aid in Hurricane Katrina relief. Northwest Medical Teams has decided to utilize these funds to bring toys to the many children whose families are still struggling in the wake of the storm. World Concern's Hurricane Katrina Fund has provided thousands of Gulf Coast residents with food, shelter, and medical care, as well as hope and encouragement.

SNEWS® View: Giving up on the annual Christmas party tradition and devoting the time and money to offer compassion and service to those who are in need is, in our view, the ultimate gift. We encourage, and frankly would expect, other industry companies to not only follow Ex Officio's example, but make it a standard for Christmas seasons to come — a standard that other industry companies will see as the right thing, the only thing to do.

"Social Empowerment" is a regular column published by SNEWS® (regular implying that when we have news, we'll publish it) focusing the spotlight on goodwill of industry friends who are, either as a company, or as individuals, stepping up to social responsibility. This column, coupled with our regular environmentally-focused "Green Scene" column will, we trust inspire, challenge, and offer opportunity for each one of us to look inside our own lives, and those of the companies we work for and with, to ensure that we are doing all we can socially and environmentally. If you know of a company, an organization or an individual that deserves mention by the SNEWS® team, send an email to: socialempowerment@snewsnet.com.

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