A crisis tends to leave its target filled with apprehension, hopelessness or fear, making it difficult to cope, have a sense of well-being or even get out of bed. Jennie-O Turkey Store recognized the need to stand in the gap when its employees face a crisis and started a fund with SWIF to help meet those immediate needs.
In August 2006 the first contributions were made to the Jennie-O Turkey Store Crisis Assistance Relief Effort (CARE) Fund. In the last nine years, more than $282,800 has been granted to 207 applicants—all employees of the Willmar-based company and all of them facing some kind of crisis. JOTS employees can apply for up to $1,500 of emergency funds to help them through an unforeseen crisis.
Donations to the JOTS CARE Fund come from vending machine proceeds, staff “buying” casual days in the office, corporate contributions and individual donors.
The sense of team support is at the heart of JOTS company culture. Along with its parent company, Hormel, JOTS has been recognized multiple times for positive human resource efforts.
“We want to be good citizens,” said Patricia Solheid, vice president, HR & administration. She said they do this by operating good facilities, being a good employer and making community donations. “There’s a feeling of satisfaction when helping people,” she said.
Could this fund be replicated with other businesses? Yes, it certainly could be as long as the company and leaders make a strong commitment to the fund and its purpose. While JOTS staff don’t have a lot of hands-on with the fund, they do help organize donations by planning and promoting as well as submitting funds that are collected. The human resources department makes sure each application is complete before it’s sent on to SWIF for review.
Because of the partnership with SWIF, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, outright donations to the JOTS CARE Fund are tax deductible. SWIF processes all donations to the fund; issuing tax receipts as appropriate under IRS rules.