In 2009, Gap store #569 in Chicago started a partnership with Chicago Youth Programs (CYP) because the store team wanted to support the highest risk kids in the community. Five years later, the team has developed a tight relationship with the organization.
“There is a sense of family and community that has been built there and the team truly feels a connection to each and every person,” says Michael Hansen, Gap District Manager. “The team has literally become part of these kids' lives for the past five years. In many cases, they have seen them grow up, they know their families, and they know their stories.”
The team has come to know the kids’ stories through many amazing volunteer efforts, including summer camp trips, AIDS Walk with the kids, trips to the library to research careers, job readiness programs, and the Adopt A Family program. The team has also helped to start a bi-annual “Caring Closet” event. Recruiting the other Gap stores in the region to donate clothing, the store set up a “Gap Store” in the gym of the Chicago Youth Program building. Parents and children are invited to come “shop” for clothing free of charge.
“The families are so touched and moved by the generosity and are truly grateful for the clothing that they receive.” says Michael. “It is the GREATEST feeling in the world!”
Two years ago, a conversation took place between Claire Wiersma, Customer Service Manager, and then, new employee Rudy Tijerino, that would change the community. Rudy shared a story about a local nonprofit called Liberty for Youth that offers rehabilitation for at-risk young people who have been referred by the courts or educational system. His passion caught Claire’s attention. Flash forward and the store has now embraced the organization and developed an ongoing close partnership.
Store #5451 has supported Liberty for Youth in multiple ways, including Camp Old Navy events and mentoring. One of the store’s favorite events is the Prodigal Son Basketball Tournament. The event gives an opportunity to rebuild the relationship between a young person and the officer or person that referred them to Liberty for Youth. It ensures the kids feel safe, and recognize that their community is there for support.
The partnership has even led to a few of the young people being hired at the Old Navy store.
“The kids from this organization inspire the Old Navy crew,” says Nancy Munn, Old Navy Market Leader. “They are personable, gracious, and thrive off the positive relationships that are being built.”
Some volunteer teams seem to do it all! Store team#8023 in Seattle has partnered with YWCA Seattle for the past five years. As part of a strong ongoing relationship, the store team helps with organizing donations, outfitting clients for interviews, and cooking meals for meetings. With multiple branches throughout the Seattle area, the team has lots of opportunities to volunteer.
Volunteering sometimes brings out the need for teamwork and problem solving – two things this team knows a lot about. At a recent event, the team cooked dinner, and after it was served, they found out that two of the kids had allergies to one of the ingredients. They didn’t miss a beat and quickly worked to build an entire meal for the two hungry kids! The volunteers stayed for hours afterwards, reading books and helping the kids with homework.
“The team has received thank you cards that are just wonderful,” said Jennifer Doble, Banana Republic District Manager. The folks there remember them time after time, and it inspires the team to continue to foster those relationships.”
In 1976, Prince Charles of Wales, founded the Prince’s Trust to improve the lives of disadvantaged young in the United Kingdom (UK). The Trust is the UK's leading youth charity, offering training, personal development, business start-up support, and mentoring.
In 2013, the Gap Distribution Center (DC) in Rugby, England, set out to create a training program worthy of the Prince’s name. The “Get into Logistics” program is designed to give young people the skills and experience needed to move into employment within the logistics industry. The program includes three week-long training events at the DC where participants are given the opportunity to practice their skills in a real work environment.
“The young people that apply for these programs are determined to find work and just need someone to give them a chance to prove themselves,” said Alison White, HR Generalist and Community Leader, Gap UK. “To be involved in the “Get into Logistics” program and give young people exactly that chance is inspiring for the team and something we feel very passionate about.”
For the past three years, the Banana Republic Factory Store (BRFS) #1990 team has supported the local chapter of March of Dimes, which is committed to helping babies start life in the healthiest way possible. More than half a million babies are born too soon every year and need specialized medical care to help them survive.March of Dimes relies on donations to support continued research and programs to help moms have healthy, full-term pregnancies.
The BRFS store team not only participates in the annual walk, but they also show off their super team skills helping to plan, setup, and direct other volunteers during the event.
“Team #1990 loves what they do and they are very close-knit,” says District Manager Kelli Gilliam. “Not only are they passionate and committed to participating in community action events, their commitment to success in the store is just as strong.”
On her way to volunteer at another nonprofit, Athena White, General Manager and Community Leader at Gap Flood, would walk by the Boys & Girls Club in San Francisco’s Tenderloin neighborhood. She could see the club could need some extra love so she rallied her store to volunteer. Five years later, the store has formed a lasting partnership with the club.
“Athena has made this her life’s work. She is the magic, the passion, the reason why we are all bought in,” says Alicia Peat, Store Director. “Athena is dedicated to ensuring we help others, and by doing so, show our employees that doing what’s right makes us a stronger team.”
Each August, store #150 holds a back to school supply drive to create more than 200 back packs to donate to kids at the clubhouse. Every other Tuesday, a group from the store helps kids with homework, reading, math, social studies or anything they might need.
The work of the team inspired Glenn Murphy, Gap Inc. CEO, and Art Peck, Gap Inc. President, Growth, Innovation and Digital to join the team and volunteer at the clubhouse. “Art spoke about the importance of having a mentor and support system to help you grow and become your best self,” says Alicia. “It was a great tie back to the work that the Boys & Girls Club does every day!”
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