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When Human Services Inc. called out to the residents of Greensburg with a need for food in its pantry, donations flocked to the shelves.

However, the associates at GECOM have taken it a step further. For that reason, the Greensburg Daily News has awarded GECOM with our Volunteers of the Week honor.

Trisha Mayberry, a student at the Greensburg Community Learning Center and an associate at GECOM, wanted to start a canned-food drive for a class project.

“Everyone in my Purdue class has to do a different service project as a requirement,” Mayberry said. “The 24-hour food drive didn’t go as good as well as the group had hoped, so I wanted to do another one since I knew they are always in need.”

Once the idea was formed, she approached GECOM’s vice president of operations, Frank Jesensek, who upped the stakes.

“I thought it would be fun to turn the food drive into a competition amongst the different departments,” he said. “We agreed it would be a great idea to liven things up after the holidays, cold and dreary.”

The event set to begin the week of Valentine’s Day, but Mayberry still had a lot to prepare.

“My daughter helped cut-out hearts that were placed on barrels and placed around the plant. There were also large posters to let everyone know the competition was taking place,” she said. “We never could have imagined how successful it turned out to be.”

Mother nature, however, took full force during that period and had Mayberry worried but that ended up being a benefit to the drive.

“We ran the competition for a week, but then we extended it a couple more days since the weather was so bad and a lot of associates weren’t able to make it in,” she said. “It started off slow but, over the weekend, food came from everywhere.”

At the end of the event, GECOM worked to collect 4,562 pounds of food.

“I was floored when I heard how much team Metal Stamping and Injection Molding brought in,” Mayberry proudly said.

Taking first place, the team raised 2,300 pounds.

“This place looked like a grocery store,” said Sharon Herbert, who was helping to move the food. “I kept on thinking, oh my gosh, where is it all coming from. What was funny on Monday was that we had people from different teams coming back to the loading dock and asking how much the leader had. They would then collect money, borrow the company van and rush to the store to buy more food. It was very much a team competition.”

The call on Monday was also a shocker to the people at Human Services.

“The Human Services building was closed, but I got a call at home from GECOM asking to open up because they had to drop off some food,” said Diana Wenning, director of Human Services Inc. “We were very grateful for the amount of food. The factory really pulled together.”

Wenning noted it took more than four hours to unload all of the food.

“Vans loads of food kept on showing up,” she said enthusiastically. “We are still trying to sort it all out.”

The associates at GECOM didn’t just gather food, they also donated toothpaste, toothbrushes, soap and shampoo.

“There was a good variety of food,” Herbert said. “We had almost everything (a grocery store) has on it’s shelves.”

The winner of the competition was awarded a baked potato bar during lunch.

“Bonita Myers’ potato bar was a hit,” Jesensek said.

Mayberry also thought it was a great idea and can’t wait to get another competition started.

“It smelled so good. I guess I can live not winning the baked potato bar,” she said. “People are still talking about it and the guys at MSO (Metal Stamping) are still bragging about winning.”

Wenning is still on cloud nine regarding the tremendous flood of food. She noted that it will go to good use.

“We have more than quadrupled our food need,” she explained. “We have helped more than 250 families each month. I’m going to be sending everyone a nice thank-you letter but I know that’s not even enough for what they did to help the community.”

Jesensek noted that this will surely not be the last event to reach out to the community.

“We can’t wait and are really looking forward to the next thing for the community,” he said. “GECOM is apart of the community and we need to continue to support it.”

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