Supporting heroes one shoebox at a time

Operation ShoeboxGrowing up with a mother who served in the Army, Karen M. learned at an early age how important it is to support the troops fighting for freedom.

When Karen took on the role of HR Manager at Hartsfield Jackson International Airport in the Atlanta Operating Group two years ago, she knew the partnership her predecessor established with Operation Shoebox was one initiative she had to continue.

“Enterprise has a strong connection to the military, not only through Jack Taylor’s service in the Navy, but through the service of employees and customers,” says Karen. “About 10 percent of our full- and part-time employees at Hartsfield are veterans or active military members. Because it’s such an important part of who we are as a company, we do as much as we can throughout the year to support our troops and give back.”

The program

Operation Shoebox is committed to treating every hero with honor and care by providing hands-on support for troops deployed overseas and returning home. In collaboration with the United Way, the organization collects shoeboxes, fills them with personal care basics and other uplifting items such as letters of gratitude and encouragement. The care packages are then distributed to military troops overseas and local homeless veterans.

The Atlanta Operating Group’s partnership with Operation Shoebox this year was two-fold: Employees participated in a campaign to donate 100 shoeboxes of personal care items, and the Enterprise Holdings Foundation supported the effort with a grant.

While funds received from the Enterprise Holdings Foundation help keep many local charities like Operation Shoebox running smoothly, Karen believes supporting local organizations is about more than just giving a check. “We strive to make the experience meaningful for our employees through volunteer opportunities,” says Karen. “We always have a great turnout for volunteer events. It allows employees to emotionally connect with the cause and see firsthand the impact of their giving.”  

The Shoebox drive

On the final day of this year’s shoebox initiative, employees gathered to fill their boxes with phone cards, socks, travel-size shampoos, cleaning wipes, toothbrushes, magazines and snacks. Employees then decorated the boxes and included personalized notes.

Regional Rental Manager Mark L. says the event was a huge success.

“As a Marine veteran, it’s fantastic to see our employees give their time to support our troops and provide assistance for those who need help locally,” says Mark, a noncommissioned officer in the Marine Light Attack Helicopter Squadron (HMLA 773) who handled the hydraulics and airframe mechanics on Cobra and Huey helicopters during his six years of service. “Many of my friends received a package from Operation Shoebox while deployed and judging from their expressions, it was much appreciated.  Receiving a care package when you’re away from home for up to 12 months can be a very powerful experience.”

Supporting community causes

In addition to the Operation Shoebox grant, the Enterprise Holdings Foundation donated more than $36 million last year to fund causes that employees actively champion and support.

“I really appreciate working for a company that values its employees’ passions for local causes that are near and dear to them,” says Mark. “And, as a veteran, I couldn’t be more proud of my team for lending a hand to support our troops.”