Impact Day the UNITED Way

By Paula Todd, Supply Chain Planner at Coca-Cola UNITED

When I received the email to volunteer at Booker T. Washington school for Impact Day with Coca-Cola UNITED and Hands On Atlanta, I jumped at the chance. I have always enjoyed meeting new people and seeing new areas of our wonderful city, especially when helping others. You get to the see the best side of people while working on whatever task you are assigned to complete. While I had heard of Booker T. Washington School, I really knew nothing about it other than the fact that it was located on the south side of Atlanta and that the neighborhood could be a little rough. The school, as I found out, is 95 years old and beautiful on the outside. It was the first public school for African Americans and was the school that Martin Luther King attended.

I brought my youngest daughter and two of her friends along with me to help. We arrived down shortly after 9am, registered, and ate breakfast. Shortly after, people began to arrive and we noticed a DJ in the cafeteria who was playing some great music—even by the teenagers’ standards. Around 9:45, the coordinator and president of Hands On Atlanta thanked us all for coming, and next up was Dr. Nichols, who is the new principal of the high school. We were given our duties and everyone set about their tasks for the day.

My daughter, her friends, and I were assigned the duty of note-writing. We had notecards that would go into each bag that was packed with notebooks, pencils, binders, and so forth. At first, the job seemed to me to be trivial, but as we came up with things to write and worked our way through the cards, I changed my tune.

We wrote things on the notecards like:

  • Attitude determines Altitude.
  • Shoot for the moon. Even if you miss, you will land amongst the stars.
  • Be the change you want to see in the world.
  • You are wonderfully made.
  • Have a fabulous year!

I tried to visualize the kids who would be receiving the cards and hoped that whatever was written on the card they received, along with the supplies, helped to make their day and school year a little brighter.

The volunteers were comprised of both UNITED employees and Coke employees. I meet several Coca-Cola UNITED employees that I would otherwise not have had the opportunity to get to know. The vibe of the day was young at heart, as demonstrated by the music being played.

In just two and a half hours, we had packed all the supply bags we could, spread 200 bales of pine straw, planted flowers and added benches to the courtyard. The time passed quickly and everyone had a great time. I am looking forward to the next Impact volunteer day!