September 21, 2016: The batteries industry has always proven to be one of the more charitable sectors. It’s not so much seen — because it’s not spoken about — but it’s real and goes on beneath the surface.
The kindness of strangers
It’s a secret undercurrent running through the recent ELBC meetings in Malta. The organizers, the International Lead Association and EcoBat, pay for three PhD students to attend the conference — all expenses paid. They’ve done this for years.
It’s a gift from one generation of the lead industry to the next.
But the ILA generosity is only the tip of an iceberg that runs underneath a whole industry. At the same event Wirtz Manufacturing chose to give a huge display monitor to a local charity — a gift that it now regularly does. Goonvean Fibres set the idea in motion a couple of years ago at an ABC meeting.
Across the industry, charitable giving has been a hallmark of some of the most prominent battery players. East Penn’s DeLight Breidegam Jr and his wife Helen gave away millions of dollars to medical trusts and educational foundations.
Other firms such as Bitrode, the US testing firm based in St Louis, have historically been active players in huge charity funding events — where Batteries International has been involved — such as the local Variety charity which hosts a Dinner with the Stars. Coincidentally St Louis is reckoned the most charitable city within the US.
CASE STUDY: ENTEK
Carri Moffat, Entek recounts:
“Our Coats for Kids program started around 30 years ago. Some of the employees (we were a young company) wanted to do a Christmas present for the founder Jim Young, and knowing he was a strong advocate for giving back to the community, they came up with the idea of donating coats to local school kids in need rather than giving him a thank you plaque or something. The idea stuck.
“When I started in 1992, I remember that our process at the time was to get a group of about 10 employees together (our ‘committee’) to take the funds we had collected, head to the local mall, divide up the list we had and shop for the coats. That year it was 68, and I remember thinking what an incredible thing that just a few people could make an impact on so many.
“Any money we had left over after the coats were purchased was doled out to organizations within our community (food bank, senior centers, etc). A few years later we started buying blankets for the local shelter.
“Every year as our list of needed coats got larger, we’d have the same conversation, “How are we going to manage to get all of these?” But every year the employees have come through (remember, this is not a ‘corporate’ event, it’s completely funded by employees. We’ve never had to turn down a coat request. I started heading up the committee, gosh, about 11 years ago? At that point I was looking for a way to make our money go further and started partnering with local businesses to take advantage of some cost savings.
“We kind of make our ‘shopping day’ a thing. The committee members meet on a designated night at our partner store and we spend hours shopping for, sorting out and purchasing hundreds of coats. And the store usually brings in employees to dedicate completely to our endeavors.
“It’s a fun night for them as well.
“In 2013 we formed an actual non-profit. We work with local school districts and other organizations that support children, and they are the ones that put together the lists for us of needed coats. There are privacy issues, so the schools are our distribution point – we don’t get to meet the children directly (although they send us wonderful thank you’s!).
“There are always so many heart-warming stories about kids who have never had a new item of clothing… ever, and how proud they are to wear their coats.”