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Challenge Encourages Co-Workers to Give Back

WEST DES MOINES, Iowa  --  A challenge is pushing Iowa employees to give back.

A group of colleagues from Bankers Trust is used to working as a team. Vice President/Consumer Services Manager Lu Anne Gafford said, "We're kind of numbers-driven, I guess."

Usually they're focused on numbers at the bank, but for a couple hours each month they see how many meals they can pack at Meals from the Heartland.

"It's not just because of the numbers, but having fun and be able to give back and make a difference," said Gafford.

The group from Bankers Trust Clive/West Des Moines office started getting together to pack meals last year as part of their company's push to give back.

"We set a really high volunteer goal for our centennial last year, and that was 17,000 hours in 2017, and that was quite a bit higher than we've ever done before," said Bankers Trust Chief Marketing Officer Emily Abbas.

Employees surpassed that goal, even winning the Give Back Iowa Challenge through Volunteer Iowa.

“It started because there were companies across Iowa that were starting to incorporate more corporate social responsibility into their day, and so they had more volunteer time off and they wanted to encourage their employees to use it," said Volunteer Iowa Communications and Engagement Officer Brianne Fitzgerald.

This is the fourth year for the Give Back Iowa Challenge. Last year, 59 employers participated, logging more than 60,000 hours.

"They're doing things like this. They're doing meal packaging. They're doing PTA at their schools. They're really, honestly everywhere," said Fitzgerald.

The Give Back Iowa Challenge is free. Employees log volunteer time online during the challenge that runs from April 1st through May 31st. The winner gets bragging rights and a visit from the governor. The goal is to tout the benefits of volunteering together.

Fitzgerald said, "Job retention is a huge thing, even wanting to work for a company. And it's not just Millennials. It's really anybody of any age is looking at companies that offer that volunteer time off component."

It's made a difference for the colleagues volunteering at Meals from the Heartland.

"It just helps us to know one another a little, so when we need to reach out to each other for something work-related, we're a little more comfortable knowing one another."

Employers can still sign up to participate. Visit Volunteer Iowa’s website for details.