Our mission-minded employees tackle our community's biggest needs during the holidays -- and all year round.

News | 3 years ago

Giving Back: Not Just a Season For Atrium Health Teammates

Our mission-minded employees tackle our community's biggest needs during the holidays -- and all year round. 

Stop by The Salvation Army’s Christmas Center during the holidays and you’ll hear shouts of joy – usually from a family that has spun the wheel and landed on a new bike. You’ll see smiling faces of grateful parents and grandparents. You can almost feel the warmth exuded as strangers turn into friends and fear turns into relief as families know they’re able to help provide a Christmas to their children this year.

Every year, Atrium Health partners with the Salvation Army. More than 500 employees show up at the Christmas Center and across the region to help hand out the toys and bikes and stockings and shiny paper can truly make holiday wishes come true for many families.

But if you dig a little deeper, you might find that many of these families struggle not only with putting toys under the tree, but also food on the table – not just during the holidays, but throughout the year.

Charlotte and the rest of the Carolinas are continually spotted on national lists of the best places to live. A mild climate, relatively low cost of living and strong economy make it an attractive place to call home.

But the community also faces its share of challenges. Two years ago, Atrium Health partnered with the North Carolina Institute for Public Health to conduct a Community Health Improvement Plan study to examine what social determinants of health affected the immediate areas we serve. Atrium Health uncovered the biggest need was to address food insecurity.

Food plays such a major role in health, affecting things from academic performance and mental health utilization in our children, to chronic medical conditions in adults.

This year, Atrium Health teammates have volunteered their time, talents and resources to help make an impact in this critical community need – including setting up food pantries with community partners in underserved areas. But it’s the personal stories that really shine a light on the issue.

Take for example the mother of four in Stanly County. When she arrived at one of our food pantries, her eyes began to well up as she received a ticket for chicken and eggs. Her son jumped for joy as they learned they were going to be eating meat.

Or the single father of two girls who arrived at the food pantry in University City on a Monday. After making it through the grocery line, he confided that he went from not knowing how he was going to feed his family that week to beaming with pride and trying to parent two girls who were arguing over who got to hold which bag of food. “You saved our lives this week,” he said as he loaded his bags into his vehicle.

And the 10-year-old boy in Cleveland County who was clutching two cartons of strawberries so hard – he was nearly crushing the packaging.  “Those strawberries aren’t just for you…they’re for the whole family,” his father said. “I know. But we never get strawberries, so I want to be sure that I get some,” the boy replied.

Every day Atrium Health teammates are committed to improving health, elevating hope and advancing healing – for all. It’s a welcome reminder this holiday season that it truly is better to give than to receive.

2018 By the Numbers

  • $2.03 Billion provided in free and uncompensated care and other benefits to the communities it serves.
  • $3.6 Million pledged by Atrium Health teammates during its annual giving campaign.
  • 100,000 meals prepared at the Sort A Rama for children in a 19-county region who may go without meals during the summer.
  • 41,000+ hours volunteered by Atrium Health teammates.
  • 5,000+ backpacks packed for families in need every Monday at New Teammate Orientation.
  • 5,000 meal kits assembled to be delivered to low-income families in the area.
  • 2,200 families reached with more than 40 pounds of fresh and healthy food including meats, produce, dairy and nonperishable items through mobile food pantries at 10 Title 1 schools (twice a year) across the region with partner Second Harvest Foodbank of Metrolina.
  • 2,025 bikes provided to underserved children by The Spokes Group, sponsored by Atrium Health.
  • 2,000 holiday cinch sacks filled by teammates with basic school supplies, books and holiday cards for The Salvation Army families.
  • 600+ children and seniors adopted this season by teammates as part of Atrium Health’s Holiday Cheer project providing gifts for those less fortunate.
  • 500+ teammates who volunteered with the Salvation Army this season.
  • 440 bikes purchased and delivered to deserving children from funds raised by teammates in Union County.
  • 300 local nonprofit organizations supported by Atrium Health teammates.