NAGE Local raises $12,000 for students, schools.
Protecting individual rights. Encouraging collective action. Promoting the general welfare of workers, businesses, and the economy.
At Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri, the foundational values of labor are being embraced by members, even after clocking out for the day.
This year, NAGE Local R14-139 has raised $12,000 for local area public school programs.
“These schools are within 40 mile radius of Ft. Leonard Wood and I'm personally driving all over to take these checks to the points of contact,” says Robert Richards, President of the local.
“I've put hundreds of miles and more on my truck and have hundreds more planned. Sure, it’s tough, but it’s obviously for a tremendous cause. It also helps us inform our greater community about our organization and what we do.”
The money is being donated to school programs that send non-perishable snacks and drinks home with low-income students each weekend. It's estimated that each pack costs roughly $5 per child. These programs can have various names, including backpack program, buddy pack program, and snack-in-a-pack. The local is giving each schools’ program $1,000.
Richards says the response by both union members and the community has been inspiring. “The amount of support we have gotten from our members is tremendous. Hundreds of members have told me they are glad we’re doing something positive for our area communities. As far as the impact it is having on our community, I can't put it into words. The most common response I get is speechlessness, just total disbelief.”
A longtime union member, Richards said he had never really understood what a union did before he became involved in his own local. “I’m pleased to be part of an organization whose purpose is to make the lives of our members better physically, emotionally, and financially.”
The 850 bargaining unit members of Local R14-139 are responsible for all food service work at Ft. Leonard Wood including preparation, meal service, and cleanup for 50,000 – 70,000 soldiers each day, depending on the time of year.
Over 15.8 million children live in food-insecure households according to the USDA. Of the Americans who receive SNAP benefits (“food stamps”), 44 percent are children.
When asked if Richards had plans to continue his local’s magnanimous work, his answer was decisive. “It is having a powerful impact. This is just the beginning of what we plan to do.”
The schools that will benefit from Local R14-139’s donations include: Rolla, Newburg, Houston, Success, Plato, Waynesville, Laquey, Dixon, Crocker, Iberia, Lebanon, Stoutland, and Richland.
To donate to the Feeding America Backpack Program, click here.