Sanderson Farms and the United Way share a rich history. In 1979, Joe F. Sanderson, Sr. served as board president of the Jones County Givers Fund, an organization now known as the United Way of the Pine Belt Region. This tradition is continued by current leaders within Sanderson Farms who sit on United Way boards across the Southeast. Sanderson Farms’ Chairman and CEO, Joe F. Sanderson, Jr., carries on his father’s belief that a company will only be as successful as the communities in which it operates. As Sanderson Farms’ operations have expanded, the company’s charitable giving has also grown.
The Sanderson Family has led by example to create a culture of giving within Sanderson Farms. In addition to its corporate giving, the company matches dollar-for-dollar every employee donation made to the United Way. Since 1999, when computer records began recording charitable contributions, the company and its employees have donated over $8.1 million to local United Way organizations in communities where it operates.
“Following the United Way’s philosophy, this program allows all employee contributions to stay in the areas where they are made, so employees can actually see the impact their donations have on the community,” says Hilary Burroughs, director of marketing for Sanderson Farms.
Sanderson Farms and the United Way share the belief that any person can be a donor.
“Employees at Sanderson Farms give amounts that are significant to them. Every gift, no matter the size, is valuable,” says Alison Prince, president and CEO of the United Way of the Brazos Valley in Texas.
Prince says funding supports almost two dozen non-profits across the region that exemplify the United Way’s three bold goals: education, financial stability and health.
“Our grant selection process allows us to identify organizations that support the same goals as the United Way. That way, we’re not just donating to 18 non-profits, we’re working with these organizations to impact lasting change in the community. The support we’ve received from Sanderson Farms and their employees proves big things can happen when people come together to make a difference,” says Prince.
Many United Way branches depend on Sanderson Farms to support crucial community programs. United Way of South Central Georgia Executive Director, Pat McKinnon, says donations from Sanderson Farms allow her branch to give to much-needed youth organizations in five counties.
“With aid from Sanderson Farms, we are able to partner with Boys and Girls Club of the Greater Cooke County Area, Kids Advocacy Coalition, and many others. We would not be able to keep our doors open without aid from Sanderson Farms, and we appreciate the generosity of the employees who give,” says McKinnon.
In the aftermath of Hurricane Matthew, donations from Sanderson Farms helped the Lenoir-Greene United Way in eastern North Carolina cover needs not being met by insurance and emergency response agencies.
“In the wake of the storm and the months following, we were able to feed and shelter families who couldn’t get back to their homes,” says United Way Executive Director, June Cummings.
In Georgia, Sanderson Farms has given almost a million dollars to the United Way of Colquitt County over the last decade.
“In a small community like ours, these resources really help to improve quality of life,” says United Way of Colquitt County Director Angela Castellow. “The growth to our campaign since Sanderson Farms opened has allowed us to continue to provide funding for our 20 partner agencies and to expand into new areas of health and education. We now provide for Story Time in the Park, a library outreach program; the Splash program, which teaches 2nd grade students basic swimming skills, and we were able to add a new partner agency – The Boys & Girls Club of Moultrie/Colquitt County.”
Donations from Sanderson Farms and their employees have allowed benefiting United Ways to not only survive, but thrive. In Palestine, the United Way supports Hope Station, a non-profit that helps rehabilitate families in crisis.
“Hope Station is a major help to families in crisis after facing challenges such as a lost job or housing,” says United Way of East/Central Texas Executive Director, Richard Jones. “Families that come to Hope Station are given a safe place to live and food to eat while they work to get back on their feet.”
Funding from Sanderson Farms has allowed the United Way of East/Central Texas to expand the products and services they offer the community. Last year alone, Sanderson Farms sponsored an event that provided 67,000 meals to local food banks, in addition to its monetary contributions.
In the Pine Belt region of Mississippi, contributions from Sanderson Farms make up 30 percent of United Way funding. In 1962, the United Way provided the seed money to establish what is now known as the DuBard School for Language Disorders, where a leading method for overcoming severe dyslexia and other learning difficulties was developed.
“Help from the United Way and Sanderson Farms has allowed the DuBard School to grow from a small, rural organization to a nationally known treatment and research center,” says Barbara Johnson, Executive Director of the United Way of the Pine Belt. “The DuBard School was started to fill a community need, and now it serves 140 full-time students with hundreds on the waiting list. People move to the Pine Belt from all over the country to enroll their children at DuBard. With treatment at the DuBard School, former students have been able to overcome challenges, such as the inability to speak or hear, and go on to succeed in various academic and workplace settings.”
Last year alone, Sanderson Farms and employees gave a total of $686,742.06 to United Way branches across the South. By supporting programs that work to improve education, income, and health, Sanderson Farms and the United Way are creating long-term solutions to issues facing communities across the region.