'Tis the season. Since 2003, when we launched DC VELOCITY, we have devoted this space in our November issue to giving thanks. This year, once again, we'd like to acknowledge the folks in our profession who lend their time and talents to making the world a better place.
Though many people don't realize it, logistics and supply chain companies do much more than simply swoop in to deliver humanitarian relief supplies following natural disasters. The logistics community is also there 365 days a year working quietly behind the scenes to help those in need, whether it's supporting medical research, feeding the hungry, or encouraging budding young artists.
Take DHL Express, for example. Employees at the global carrier make it their mission to build charitable work into their annual strategic plans. Their philanthropy knows no geographic bounds; efforts have ranged from the local (supporting a California high school marching band), to the national (raising funds to fight diseases like amyotrophic lateral sclerosis), to the international (delivering supplies to earthquake victims in Peru, as DHL did last August). "It's an important part of what we are and what we try to be," says Hans Hickler, CEO of DHL Express USA. "We involve people at every level of the organization in both identifying what charities we will support each year and then getting involved in the actual support work."
Or take ABF Freight, whose employees are working to fight childhood hunger in the United States. ABF has teamed up with America's Second Harvest—The Nation's Food Bank Network to sponsor the innovative U-Pack a BackPack program, which might be described as a virtual food drive. Donors log onto the program's Web site (www.U-PackaBackPack.org) to make food and monetary donations. ABF then delivers the donated food to families in need.
And then there's Bastian Material Handling, which encourages volunteer work by giving employees paid time off to participate in programs like the United Way's annual Day of Caring. But Bastian's charitable efforts don't end there. Staffers at the company's Cincinnati office, for example, have also lent their collective logistics acumen to Action Ministries, a nonprofit mission that operates a food pantry in northern Kentucky. Contributors to the food pantry, which feeds about 700 families a month, include Sara Lee, Chiquita, Del Monte, Schwan's, Procter & Gamble, Kahn's, Kroger, Keebler, and General Mills.
For all their generosity, corporate sponsors like these want assurances that as much of their donation as possible is reaching people in need. As a result, organizations like Action Ministries are coming under increased scrutiny from donors that want to know how well they're managing their resources. Some donors have even established formal assessment programs to measure the performance of various charities. Those findings determine, in part, which organizations will receive their support in the future.
That prompted a team of Bastian volunteers to go in and look at Action Ministries' logistics operations. What they found wasn't too encouraging: One team member described the process as bordering on chaotic. But the logistics problems they found were not ones that couldn't be solved. Under the Bastian team's expert guidance, Action Ministries was able to make substantive improvements. Today, it has a more efficient process in place for distributing food, which should serve it well when it comes to soliciting future donations.
DHL, ABF, and Bastian are hardly alone in their philanthropic endeavors, of course. We could also point to CEVA Logistics (formerly TNT Logistics), whose employees participate in the Global Walk for Hunger every year, and FedEx, with its long-standing support of St. Jude Children's Research Hospital. And those are only a few of the many, many good deeds done by supply chain professionals each year.
While we're on the subject of giving thanks, we would be remiss if we didn't offer our thanks to you, our readers, as we approach the end of our fifth year of publishing DC VELOCITY. Without your support, we wouldn't be here. Please accept our sincere and heartfelt thanks.