Walmart makes volunteering pay

Store employees donate time, raise money for causes
May. 16, 2013 @ 11:44 PM

April was National Volunteer Month, but one local business actively focuses on volunteerism all year long.

In its 2013 fiscal year, which ended in January, employees of Walmart in Sevierville donated 8,269 hours of volunteer time and raised $84,500.

This month, Walmart sponsors its biggest fundraiser of the year, Relay for Life, an effort spearheaded at the store by employee Earl Gibson. As the May 31 event draws near, Walmart is once again ramping up efforts to bring in fundraising dollars for the American Cancer Society.

Last year, Walmart associates brought in $90,500 for Relay for Life.

“We were the number one team from Sevier County and for Walmart nationwide,” said store manager Chris Johnson, “so we’re extremely proud of our employees’ efforts.”

This year, the team hopes to meet or exceed that goal.

“A number of our employees have been impacted by cancer, either through personal diagnosis or that of a loved one,” Johnson said. “That fueled the cause and our associates found a passion to get engaged. That really drove our volunteer efforts.”

Johnson also believes a sense of community pride  plays a role in Walmart’s fundraising success.

“We have about 400 associates who live in the community, want the community to be successful, and are passionate about giving,” he said.

Another company program, Volunteerism Always Pays, awards grants to eligible organizations for which Walmart employees volunteer. Fifty-one grants have been awarded to local groups this year. These grants have benefitted a variety of organizations such as the Sevier County Food Ministries, Pigeon Forge High School and The Lord’s Child.

“As the largest group in the central business unit, we’re excited about working with the Volunteerism Always Pays program,” he said.

jfrye@themountainpress.com