Guest Services, Inc. is built on the four cornerstones of delivering the highest quality of service, remaining a loyal partner, being good stewards towards our communities, and providing fulfilling careers to our team members. These expectations are at the forefront of our Century of Service volunteer program, and our properties manifest that mindset into initiatives to further provide for their communities each year. Lancaster Foods exemplified this in their most recent service program.
Located in Jessup, Maryland, Lancaster Foods strives to deliver the highest quality produce wherever and whenever it’s needed. On top of that in each December, the team at Lancaster adds another product to their list – toys.
“Our first toy drive was back in 2012, and we only had a goal of about 300 toys,” says Ellen Palmer, Human Resource Specialist at Lancaster. “This year, we donated over 600 toys to the Bon Secours Community Works.”
Bon Secours Community Works is in Baltimore, Maryland, and provides guidance with career development, financial services, women in crisis, and family support. Providing such a large amount of toys each year to such a deserving group takes a very dedicated team.
“We raise money to buy these toys throughout the year. We have our annual bake sale in November where people can show off their baking skills, and there is a separate raffle in which people can participate if they donate a toy,” Ellen says. HR Manager Natalie Sieger contacts vendors for their donations as well as raffle prizes from other Guest Services locations. In the past, raffle items were tickets to sports games and Sculpture Garden ice skating passes. The main source of money donations is from the Lancaster HR snack cart. Ellen says she “had the idea of creating a snack cart as a way of raising more money for the donations. There is no better way to satisfy a sweet tooth craving than knowing that your purchase will help others too. We have potato chips, oatmeal, candy bars, popcorn, beverages, and more!”
All the profits from the cart go towards to toy fund, and vendors sometimes donate their products to boost sales even more. Around November, the Lancaster Human Resource Team gathers all the money made throughout the year and heads to the toy store.
“We get all types of toys because we can’t categorize the age group or gender of the children coming,” says Krystal Reynolds, Lancaster Human Resource Specialist. “We get a nice selection of toys ranging from infants to teenagers.”
When donation day finally arrives, the whole team gets to see their hard work in action. Krystal says that it can be “chaotic and entertaining, but it is also quite an experience to see those children get excited about a toy especially if they normally don’t get anything.”
Children who arrive at the toy drive receive about 2-4 toys, depending on the number of donations. But starting in January, Ellen, Krystal, and their other team members Theresa Steheman and Dinora Mancia are back at the snack cart, waiting to make sales.
Ellen says, “It is almost second nature to us now, and we are already looking forward to another great year.”
Thank you to Lancaster Foods and all our units for engaging in meaningful volunteer services that make a measurable difference in each of your communities. We also want to send our congratulations to the Lancaster team for being chosen for a Governor’s Service Award for this toy donation drive.