What started out as a week of recognition among employees of International Greetings USA in Midway turned into cold hard cash for the Liberty Humane Shelter on Tuesday afternoon. International Greetings employees delivered an envelope containing $2,200 to LHS President Sandra Frye.
“I’m going to cry,” Frye said. “It’s been really rough through these hard economic times; I know that everybody is struggling. It’s hard for me to go out and ask for money … but the animals need it. This could not have come at a better time.”
Frye said the shelter has been struggling recently. Donations have been virtually non-existent, making it difficult to pay for medical supplies and veterinarian bills. The lack of donations also forced the shelter to reduce its staff.
But Frye didn’t know that the folks at International Greetings were about to come to her aid.
IG senior account manager Terri Downs and customer service supervisor Rema Bryant were planning their annual employee event when Downs came up with an idea.
“It started as this small thing … and it was Terri’s idea to support the Liberty Humane Shelter,” Bryant said. “We decided to call it ‘Pennies for Paws.’ We developed a flier that we gave to other departments saying the department that raised the most money — we didn’t tell them how to do it — the prize being they got to choose a manager to wear a costume.”
“The first week of October is customer service week, and every year we try to appreciate everybody in our company and how they interact within our company and our customers,” Downs added. “I’m an animal lover, and my mom was a member of the ASPCA and she passed away two years ago.
HR supervisor Katy Simmons said she was on vacation that week but followed the progress of the employees’ events through email.
“They did a lot of fun things all week long,” she said. “They even got the vendors involved and each department had a competition.”
Senior buyer Linda Newsome said her department got a late start, getting things rolling on a Wednesday.
“In the manufacturing department, one of the supervisors got to raffle off a vacation day, and we had a lot of people buy into that,” Newsome said.
Newsome’s department ended up winning. The employees elected to have the manager of the shipping department sport a costume toward the end of the month.
In the end, the real winners are the shelter pets. Frye said she is going to order some much-needed supplies, but she added that it will take all the money she just received to pay for the order and get caught up on recent bills.
“We are struggling week to week and month to month, and we’ve made cuts here and there, but I don’t know where else to cut,” Frye said.
She said the shelter is fortunate to receive continued support from Target, Walmart and Kroger in the form of pet food.
Frye added that the shelter always is in need of bleach, cleansers and Fabuloso, but she said the most important thing the shelter needs is money.
“We are desperate for money and we are really low,” she said.
Newsome said she thinks the employees at IG might be willing to do another fundraiser in the future and added that folks probably are willing to donate some cleansers.
Simmons said it was a great way to raise money because it increased interactions between the employees and departments, which boosted morale.
“We did this in one week. … It was pretty awesome,” Simmons said.