The Mohegan Sun Arena is known for WNBA games and rock concerts. But on Thursday morning, the floor of the arena was taken over by corporate employees of Dunkin’ Donuts and Connecticut Food Bank for two hours of competitive community service and chaos.
At the invitation of Dunkin’ Donuts, the food bank brought in two truckloads of Kids’ BackPack supplies in the wee hours of the morning. By 10 a.m., the Dunkin’ Donuts employees arrived to hear a challenge: a similar group in New Orleans had packed 6,000 packets of food for its local Kids’ BackPack program and we wanted to beat that record.
After a Dunkin’ Donuts Baskin Robbins Community Foundation check presentation of $5,700 to help defray the costs of the Kids’ BackPack program, the employees were divided into five teams. To promote that competitive spirit, the team that packed the most bags was going to get a coveted Golden Backpack, made for this occasion by the Food Bank’s own Carly Yearsley, our Child Nutrition Coordinator.
We weren’t quite sure what to expect. Our typical backpacking volunteer experience has, at most, a dozen people quietly putting together the bags of food for children who would otherwise go hungry on weekends when they don’t have access to school meals. Each bag must contain two wholegrain cereal products, two shelf-stable milks, two protein-based entrees, two healthy snacks, and two 100% juice boxes. We distribute more than 1,700 of these bags each week to 65 schools in 15 school districts and depend on volunteers every week to make it happen. But 250 exuberant, caffeine-buzzed (we are talking about Dunkin’ Donuts coffee, after all) volunteers with slightly more than an hour available to beat a New Orleans all-time record was an all-new experience.
Each team of 50 came up with a fast game plan and team member assignments – they had product box openers, runners to refill the packing tables, box makers, bag openers, and dozens of packers lined up at tables. And when the whistle blew, they were off and running.
It was frenzied, it was noisy, it was fun… and in the middle of it, WTNH showed up and waded into the middle of the action for a TV news story which didn’t slow the crowd down one bit. When Carly announced “Freeze” and they stopped packing (well, when Carly announced “Freeze” for the third or fourth time and they started to slow down – did we mention that caffeine-buzz?), we beat the New Orleans record by hundreds. A month’s supply of bags had been packed!
Of course, we added clean-up as a requirement – no prize awarded until the area was almost as spotless as it had been before the event started – and they managed that in record time too (there’s that caffeine-buzz again).
Congratulations to teams “Pack Pack Pack” and “Latte Packing Going On,” (yes, we had a tie!) who get to share that coveted Golden BackPack. But there were no losers because it was all for a good cause – to feed hungry children here in Connecticut.
To get a couch-potato view (but do have some Dunkin’Donuts caffeine and join the buzz), click on the link to the WTNH story here.
Our disclaimer: All references to a caffeine-buzz are strictly the opinion of this coffee-drinking reporter and not the official claim of the Dunkin’ Donuts brand. But it is a reason we all arrive to work every morning with that DD cup in hand…. After all, America runs on Dunkin’.