Timberland’s commitment to serving the communities where our employees live and work around the world is ongoing throughout the year. But there have long been two marquee service days on our annual calendar: Earth Day and Serv-a-palooza—events where all Timberland employees across the globe put our values in action by dedicating a day to local service. “These are the days we get out as a company, pull on our boots, and make a difference,” says Atlanta McIlwraith, Timberland’s senior manager of community engagement. “Both days focus on community greening, and Earth Day sets stage for us to go and be Earthkeepers.”
Earth Day 2012, however, was a little different. It was the first since Timberland’s acquisition by VF Corporation, and the first opportunity to see how the corporate cultures would mesh in organization-wide service events.
Leading up to this, Steve Rendle, vice president of VF Corporation and group president, Outdoor & Action Sports Americas, announced in September 2011 that all VF outdoor and action sports brands would participate in 2012 Earth Day service events.
He was good for his word. Since Serv-a-palooza 2011, that commitment has grown and thrived.
According to Patty Pierce, Vice President of Human Resources for VF’s Outdoor Coalition, “VF recognizes that service is a critical element of Timberland’s culture. We joined Timberland in service at last year’s Serv-a-palooza and saw the benefits service brings to the work environment, the community, and to the business. We were inspired and decided to expand VF’s Outdoor Coalition and VF’s Action Sports Coalition own service commitments – we’ll now join Timberland in having two Coalition-wide service days each year, Earth Day in April and a second day in September”.
With her experience in planning and executing large-scale service events, McIlwraith supported the launch of the coalition-wide effort, providing training with the VF team in San Leandro, California—headquarters for lucy activewear, The North Face, and JanSport brands.
There, the service partner was Alameda Point Collaborative, which works to end homelessness by providing housing and services to create communities where formerly homeless families and individuals can flourish. Volunteers from lucy, Jansport and The North Face turned out for the Earth Day service event in mid-April. Participation exceeded VF’s goals; 331 employee volunteers, out of the roughly 450 employees in that location, participated in the event. Volunteers expanded a sustainable nursery, improved a community farm, and helped with a variety of gardening and landscaping tasks.
Six other sites also planned service projects for VF associates, in locations ranging from Visalia, California, and Appleton, Wisconsin, to Montreal, Quebec. Activities included maintaining nature trails, creating and expanding community parks and gardens, restoring a playground, beach clean-up, removal of invasive plant species, bagging garbage and recyclables, and cleaning up an elementary school.
All in all, during the week of April 16, over 4,500 VF associates participated in a wide variety of service projects in 71 locations across the U.S as part of the first annual VF Outdoor & Action Sports Coalition Earth Day.
These are encouraging results for the first coalition-wide Earth Day effort. VF leadership was pleased with the outcome. “It was great to see individuals from all levels and departments united in the spirit of service,” said Rendle.
This response, and responses of others who participated in Earth Day activities for the first time, has been so powerful that VF is already gearing up for its fall service event in conjunction with Timberland’s Serv-a-palooza.
“I think it is safe to say we collectively nudged things in the right direction,” said to Joe O’Connor, director of operations for VF Outdoor (Canada), Inc., in a follow up message to his employees. He went on further, outlining opportunities to continue to engage: “Make a point of telling people what you did, and inspire them to do something similar. Challenge some of your outdoor and action sports competitors to step up.”
For Timberland, this new collaboration in service is inspiring. In McIlwraith’s words, “Timberland’s commitment to community service is having a ripple effect in all these other communities. Joining together for the first time, we had the best outcome imaginable.”