October 18, 2016
I walked into OST this morning and my sleepy senses came alive with the smell of bacon and eggs, the sound of caffeinated colleagues, and the sight of 30+ adults coloring with crayons.
A few weeks ago, in our employee-led Community Outreach Committee meeting, one member suggested we encourage employees to decorate bags for Kids’ Food Basket’s annual “Brown Bag Day”. Kids’ Food Basket is a nonprofit that provides nutritional sack-suppers for kids who might not have access to dinner. They serve schools where ~90% of students qualify for the federal free or reduced lunch program. KFB is currently providing 7,500 sack suppers A DAY to West Michigan kids. 😯 They host their annual “Brown Bag Day” to challenge the community to provide 75,000 decorated bags to add that extra special touch for the students they serve. Everyone on the Comm Outreach team agreed, this was a worthy cause and we wanted to help out.
After the decision was made to participate in Brown Bag Day we paused and asked the question: “what does that look like for OST?” We all knew it wouldn’t just be an email asking people to decorate bags and bring them in. We know, in our DNA, that with every challenge, and every project, there is a traditional way, and then there is our way. Here at OST, innovation doesn’t happen in a vacuum. It happens in every meeting and in every conversation. So, we got creative.
Two Community Outreach Committee members, Joel Vanderveen and Steve Henderhan, took it upon themselves to try out a new method of encouraging our busy business professionals to decorate bags with the help of an age-old motivator: food. After brainstorming, seeking feedback, and planning, the concept for “The Bags ’n’ Bagels Eggstravaganza” became a reality. Everyone in the office was invited to stop by the OST kitchen between 8:00AM-9:30AM for a made-to-order breakfast. Steve and Joel cracked, chopped, sliced, flipped, toasted, and assembled. And then, they collected. Each item ordered required a certain number of decorated bags as currency.
- Bagels & Fruit – Assorted Bagels with Cream Cheese and Fruit Salad (self-serve)
- Cost: 3 Decorated Bags
- Eggs ’n’ Bacon – Scrambled Eggs, 3 Strips of Thick-cut Sobie Meats Bacon, and Toast
- Cost: 7 Decorated Bags
- Breakfast Sammy – Egg, Cheese & Bacon on a Bagel
- Cost: 10 Decorated Bags
- Omelet – Onion, Green Pepper, Tomatoes, Bacon and Cheese
- Cost: 15 Decorated Bags
Instead of shooting out an email, hoping a few people would make their kids decorate bags, but knowing most would take a split-second pause, only long enough to remind themselves that they “don’t know how to draw” or “don’t have time” before clicking delete, we ended up having a DELICIOUS breakfast, laughed a lot, got to channel our inner artists – and we ended up with 332 beautifully decorated bags and many new, enthusiastic KFB supporters.
There are a million little decisions we make every day and countless repetitious behaviors – I want to encourage everyone to take a few minutes today to look at a task, a project, or a routine, and ask yourself, could there be a better way to do it? A way to broaden it for greater good? An opportunity to not just check a box on your to-do list, but to make an impact? At OST, these are the questions we ask ourselves every day.