When Hurricane Maria hit Puerto Rico in September 2017, it launched a devastating, ongoing humanitarian crisis. Government agencies stepped in, supported by the Red Cross, NGOs and community organizations, to meet the needs of thousands of people left without food, shelter, clean water, or basic supplies. A team of Avery Dennison employees also stepped up, collecting 176 boxes of water, canned food and medicine to be sent to people in need.
“After I saw footage of the devastation in Puerto Rico, ?my heart was anguished,” says Roberto Soto, a process technician in Avery Dennison’s Labels and Material Graphics business, located in Quakertown, Pennsylvania. Soto grew up in Puerto Rico and has family there. “It was unbelievable to see my island beyond recognition and without communication.” Wanting to help, Soto approached his plant manager, Matt Hochmiller, for guidance. They, along with Mark DiStefano, the site’s safety manager, contacted Adopt A Family, an organization that connects donors with Puerto Rican families in need and which sends donations directly to the families.
Adopt A Family provided a list of the most urgently needed supplies, and Soto and DiStefano got to work. The pair created flyers and launched a Facebook page, inviting colleagues and family to donate. Avery Dennison agreed to cover the cost of shipping the donations to Puerto Rico. The drive launched in mid-December 2017 and to date has collected more than 156 boxes of relief supplies.
“It has been an overwhelming experience with the way Avery Dennison Quakertown and our leadership team supported me and helped people in need from Puerto Rico,” says Soto. “I will be forever grateful for their support. It shows that when we combine efforts, we can make a meaningful difference. I’m very proud to be part of this company,” he adds.
Teamwork is one of Avery Dennison’s core values. The company believes it is “better when we work together and put others ahead of ourselves.” This translates into a strong corporate social responsibility ethos that encourages and supports employee volunteerism.
“I am grateful to work for a company that values supporting our local and extended communities,” says Hochmiller. “I’m very proud of what my team in Quakertown was able to accomplish through the Adopt A Family relief effort. We did the right thing for our community, while supporting our colleagues in the plant who have friends and family in Puerto Rico.”? ?
As relief efforts in Puerto Rico shift from immediate recovery to longer term rebuilding, the needs of residents for basic supplies continues. Avery Dennison employees look forward to their donations making a difference.
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