DEVENS -- Loaves & Fishes Food Pantry is proud to announce that Shirley-based Bemis Associates Inc., the leading manufacturer of heat-seal films for the apparel and footwear industries, has provided 11,000 hours of volunteer time to Loaves & Fishes over the past 10 years since the two organizations started working together.

Ten years ago, Bemis Vice President Scott Howard, along with two other employees, volunteered at Loaves & Fishes as part of the United Way's Day of Caring initiative. Howard and his team were there to paint rooms at Loaves & Fishes when they learned that the pantry did a lot more than just provide food for dinner. Loaves & Fishes also helps clients stabilize and guides them toward regaining their independence and self-reliance.

Howard and his brother, Steve Howard, who is president of Bemis, run the company based on their parents' philosophy that the business is not there just for the benefit of the shareholders but for all the stakeholders: employees, partners, customers, the environment and the community.

Bemis allows and encourages each employee to donate 40 hours a year to volunteer, and the company backs up that policy by paying the employees while they are volunteering.

As a corporation, Bemis' number-one charity is Loaves & Fishes, but it also supports many different charities in the local community, and their employees can choose where they want to volunteer. The resulting culture promotes pride in the workplace.


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Employees work harder and smarter because they are working with a business that cares. And Bemis has found that customers care as well and use a company's community service as one of the benchmarks for choosing a business at which to work.

"Bemis provides more than just volunteers to Loaves & Fishes," said Patricia Stern, Loaves & Fishes' executive director. "Over the years, they have taken on more responsibilities, such as sending a truck to the Greater Boston Food Bank each week to pick up the pantry's allotment of food, donating and managing the IT infrastructure, computers, phone system, plowing and shoveling, and we have at least two Bemis volunteers at every open pantry session.

"Bemis' dedication allows Loaves & Fishes to focus on helping our clients," she added.

"Loaves & Fishes is a great organization that is well run," Scott Howard said. "They don't just give people a handout, they give people a hand up, and that's why our employees get so much out of volunteering there. We hope that other businesses learn from us as to what a good business decision this is to help out in the community. It's good for business, and employees take more pride in the workplace."

In celebrating its 30th year, Loaves & Fishes is asking local companies to support their "30 for 30" campaign by running a food drive for 30 days. The spring and summer months are the most critical for support. Loaves & Fishes asks that companies contact the drives coordinator at drives@loavesfishespantry.org or call 978-772-4627 for more information.