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Disqus Partners with Local Startups to Give Back

Posted by James Mayagoitia on August 26, 2015

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This past Friday, a few employees from Disqus and I volunteered our time to pack food boxes at the SF Marin Food Bank. You may recall that a few Disqussers participated in a similar activity at the SF Marin Food Bank last December, but what was different this time around was that we partnered up with a group called Startups Give Back.

A little more info about Startups Give Back…

Startups Give Back is a volunteering event where people in the startup community get out of their offices and actively work together to help non-profits, causes, and the community around them. It’s an opportunity for employees to get away from their desk and make a meaningful difference — immediately. It is also a new way to network. Instead of standing around with a beverage in hand, like traditional networking events, you meet people in the startup community while actively making a difference. This was a highlight of the experience for me personally, because it was really inspiring to work on a mission much larger than ourselves with the some other members of the tech community.

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A little info about the SF Marin Food Bank…

Their mission is to end hunger in San Francisco and Marin. It's a huge job that's only gotten harder as our community struggles with a prolonged period of economic distress and record numbers of people are pushed to the point of hunger. Thankfully, thousands of caring donors and supporters have rallied around the Food Bank and enabled them to scale up their operations to meet the need. With 130 employees, 25,000 volunteers each year, and 450 partner organizations throughout the community, the Food Bank is vital lifeline for people in need of food assistance.

When we arrived at the SF Food Bank I was quite impressed with their facilities. It was a very modern building with a nice design and kept impeccably clean. I can only imagine that this would have to be the case since it is a facility that stores and distributes food. We were one of the first groups to arrive, but soon we were joined by horde of other tech workers.

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We were then given a quick tour of the facility along with some information about the mission of the SF Food Bank. After this brief tour we were immediately put to work. Our entire group was assigned with the task of packing and shipping supplemental food boxes for senior citizens. Each box contained crisp rice cereal, pasta, canned tomatoes, canned apples, peanut butter, apple juice and a can of beef. According to our team leaders, the food in these boxes would supplement a senior citizen’s meals for an entire month. How amazing is that?! We were set up in groups along a conveyor belt and each group was responsible for a different part of the packing process from building the box, to filling the items, to quality control, to taping and to loading it on the shipping pallet. After two and a half hours of work, our entire group managed to pack 1,625 boxes!

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Here’s what Helen had to say about her experience…

“It was a lot of fun to work with a larger group of volunteers -- I got to meet a few new people from other companies like LinkedIn and TradeShift, and during our break I got to reconvene with Disqussers and compare experiences. And the experience itself of packing boxes was almost meditative -- at least to start. After our break, we got a little competitive and more than doubled our packing rate across the assembly line (about 500 boxes were packed before break, and about 1,200 boxes were packed after in approximately the same amount of time). It started to feel a little bit like this old I Love Lucy sketch! Fortunately, we had a few eagle-eyed volunteers on quality control, so every box was packed with the right items to supplement a senior citizen's regular food intake for about a month. All told, 37 people were able to pack 1,652 boxes -- over 46,000 pounds of food!”

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Another Disqus employee, Jono, had this to say…

“The tech industry often gets a bad rap among people that aren't in it, but Startups Give Back shows that's not true. They made it extremely easy for us to come volunteer at the food bank and it was awesome to see how many pounds of food we were able to pack for the needy. It was also extremely easy: all we had to do was show up and everything else was taken care of. There really isn't an excuse for anyone not to do it. Overall it was a great experience and meeting people from other companies was a lot of fun too.”

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Nic, another Disqusser, had this to say…

“Volunteering at the SF Food Bank was a great experience. I had no idea beforehand what to expect, and I was pleasantly surprised when we arrived to see the number of volunteers from other companies. The Food Bank was prepared and organized for our group and we were made useful in no time...the leaders from the Food Bank kept us motivated, laughing, and aware of exactly how much we had contributed at any time. The time flew by, we were done before we knew it, and we had a great understanding of how essential groups like ours are to the Food Bank and other charitable organizations.”

As you can tell from my colleagues, we had a really great time and it was satisfying on so many levels. It’s really wonderful to see my coworkers to be so inspired by this activity. I can’t wait to partner up with Startups Give Back for our next activity!

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