Community Involvement: Where do You Stand?

November 28, 2022

Editors Note: This article was previously run in a 2018 NAIDNews publication. i-SIGMA decided that its information still proves accurate and relevant today, especially in light of Giving Tuesday.

By: Gina Lentine of Legal Shred

“How can I help?” From a young age, this phrase was one of the most natural thoughts. Valuing altruism and giving back to others was an almost unconscious desire. I would volunteer as much as possible, and dreamed of being a professional volunteer if such a thing existed. Volunteer work as a career may not pay the bills in a traditional sense, but from another perspective, it pays more than any other job.

The benefits of volunteering go beyond what many imagine. Simply from a personal/psychological level, when people volunteer, they gain a new perspective, learning about and understanding experiences they may not otherwise encounter. There is also a sense of appreciation that you receive that is hard to get anywhere else. For example, a lot of the volunteer work I did when I was young was at a local hospital – I will never forget the gratitude and smiles received simply by delivering flowers or just being a distraction from everything that was going on around those there. That new perspective and knowing that you are needed can’t help but boost your self-esteem by knowing that you did something good, which can make you more productive in all areas of your life. In fact, similar to exercise, volunteering can release endorphins, and for anyone who has seen the movie Legally Blonde, you will appreciate “Exercise gives you endorphins. Endorphins make you happy. Happy people just don’t shoot their husbands…” All of these benefits when experienced by employees help to build the morale of a company and provide a sense of comradery. In addition, while volunteering, you can learn new skills and discover other interests.

When you take the benefits of volunteering and community involvement to the next level in business, the benefits are exponential. As previously mentioned, while you may not make the dollars while doing the volunteering, what you are doing is setting the dollars up to come. As most business people are aware the best way to build a business is to network and build social connections. Community Involvement is one of the best ways to do that. It puts you in the public eye, allows you to interact with others you may not otherwise have an opportunity to connect with and it provides you with a common ground. An afternoon of volunteering can open doors. By human nature, people feel a certain desire to reciprocate. On that very principle, when you give back to your community and they see what you are doing, the community wants to give back to you. Coming full circle, a business is then giving back to the community who supported it. If you are a new business, community involvement is an excellent way to let the community know you are there. Philanthropic activities will create a positive buzz for you and your business, something many are willing to pay for.

So what can you do to be involved in your community? Naturally, as the owner of a RIM or shredding company, when trying to come up with ways to give back to the community, the immediate thought is to host a shred day. In fact, at the time of original publication, we had recently partnered with The American Red Cross and a local business to host a shred day to raise funds for the victims of Hurricane Harvey (remember, this was first published in 2018). Shred days are a great type of event; they create awareness for the business, strengthen relationships with other local businesses, and provide an opportunity to meet new people and companies. However, I often wonder what else we can do as a business for community involvement aside from a shred day.

Before this article was published, the association conducted a survey asking members if and how they get involved with their local community. Most said their primary means followed a similar suit to my own of providing shredding services, a key way the information destruction industry has and will continue to give back.

Some different types of community involvement included walks and runs for charity. Through these, businesses can build a company team to fundraise for an existing cause, or create and sponsor a walk/run for a cause you feel passionate about. One member company has a non-profit they have worked with to provide monthly donations, and their employees volunteer with this organization on a regular basis.

James Elkins, Amarillo Regional Manager, best describes a program Document Shredding and Storage (DSS) recently created:

We teamed up with a local elementary school here in
Amarillo, TX, Arden Road Elementary, and worked with
the 4th grade leadership team (RAD Roadrunners) on a
recycling service project for two months. We provided
the shred bins and the students collected paper from all
the classrooms and offices each day. The kids even involved
their parents, by collecting paper at their homes and
bringing it to the school. At the end of the week, DSS would
go exchange the full bins for new empty ones. Each week they
filled at least two 64 gal bins and some weeks three or four.

At the end of the second month, the RAD Roadrunners far exceeded
their goal of collecting 2 tons of paper and finished the project
with 7,000 lbs (3.5 tons) of recycled paper, thus, saving
60 trees! Their reward was a field trip to DSS in which I
took the group (24 kids) on a tour of our facility. During
the tour, I stressed the security of our operation, which
included much of our NAID AAA Certification requirements
(e.g. visitor log in, locked secure shred room, employee
uniforms & name badges, CCTV cameras, secure vehicles,
the width of the shredded paper, and much more). They
got to see our full operation, including our shredding and
storage. My presentation included many stops at different
stations throughout our facility with explanations of each
station and time for question and answers from the kids.
One student asked if we ever got paper cuts! LOL! It was
a great educational experience for the students, and one
they will remember forever. The counselor in charge of
the group, Wendy Peeples, shared with me some of the
comments from the kids after the tour. One student,
Lindsey, said, “That was the best field trip ever!”

It was such an awesome way for the kids to see the “full
circle” process of how the paper they collected was shredded
and baled and then shipped to the recycler. In the end, we
all gathered in our showroom for a big pizza party as a
reward for a job well done. It was a great and
successful educational service project for the students,
and it gave DSS some great exposure in the area and
satisfaction of helping the kids do something meaningful
for the community.

In researching, I discovered additional ideas that secure data destruction businesses could incorporate to also get involved in the community.

One fun option was sponsoring a little league team. The children would wear your logo every game for all to see, and if you choose you can go to the games to cheer them on. Plus, if the team is really good, maybe you will even find your business name in the newspapers. “Adopt-a-road” is another excellent way to get involved with the community. As businesses in the information destruction industry strive to recycle and dispose of the destroyed materials in a “green” way, “adopt-a-road” is right in line with that mission. Your business would be on a road sign that people would drive past every day in the geographic area that you service. When they see how clean that section of the road is and volunteers wearing your logo working hard to help our environment, your business’s environmental stewardship will be recognized, making it evident the practices of your business align with its values.

It is apparent to me that the words of Robert Ingersoll, “We rise by lifting others” ring true. I hope you are inspired to give generously to your local community and that you’ll reap the rewards! Perhaps you already are doing something more. We would love to hear about it. If you have a story you want to share, please inspsire your fellow colleagues in the i-SIGMA Facebook Group, i-SIGMA Social.