The holidays are a wonderful time of year, but for some it can be a challenge. Lowe’s employee Lacey Norton in Sulphur Springs, Texas knows personally. Four years ago, Norton was a newly single mother. It became hard for her to provide Christmas gifts for her children. Norton applied for the Blue Santa program, organized by the Hopkins County Sheriff’s Department.
“You don’t realize the impact of the program until you’re actually there,” Norton said.
When her store began brainstorming ways to get involved in the community Norton suggested the Blue Santa program. She shared more about the program with her colleagues, explaining that donated presents stay local and are for children whose parents can’t afford gifts. Her co-workers were ready to help.
Three years ago, the store participated for the first time, setting a goal to raise $1,500 through events and meals held for employees. They raised $2,400. Employees went to shop for gifts and brought them back to a break room at Lowe’s. As toys were carried into Lowe’s, co-workers watched in awe.
“In the second year people understood better,” Norton said. The store raised $3,200, a couple hundred dollars more than their $3,000 goal.
This year the store got more involved. They stayed in contact with the sheriff’s department throughout the year, even participating in their local parade and decorating a float. The store raised nearly $6,500 for toys this year, partnering also with a Lowe’s distribution center in Mount Vernon, Texas.
Fifteen employees went shopping for toys, purchasing enough to make their breakroom look like Santa’s workshop.
A community-wide collection drive was also held in the store’s parking lot. Norton said the weather might not have been ideal, but all that mattered was getting presents under the tree for kids in their community. The store is already thinking about next year’s Blue Santa program, while also engaging their community in other ways.
Norton is an active member of her store’s Voice Team, which gives employees the opportunity to share feedback with leaders on ways to improve engagement. In addition to organizing the Blue Santa program, she’s also taken charge of Give Back Time, a program that gives full-time Lowe’s employees who have been with the company for at least a year eight hours to volunteer with a nonprofit organization of their choice. Employees read and spend time with children, and have helped with other services in the community.