BY KRISTEN BUCKLES
Local Walmart associates donated more than 2,000 hours of their time volunteering for area non-profit agencies in 2012, resulting in more than $35,000 in grants.
In East Tennessee, Walmart associates volunteered for 17,500 hours in 2012, which is equivalent to more than eight years of full-time work.
At Greeneville's Walmart, 3755 E. Andrew Johnson Hwy., associates volunteered more than 2,300 hours to organizations such as the Boys & Girls Club of Greeneville and Greene County, Greeneville Parks & Recreation and the Greeneville-Greene County Humane Society, according to a recent report from the company's Volunteerism Always Pays program.
Nationwide, the program logged 2.2 million volunteer hours by Walmart associates, which the Walmart Foundation matched with more than $18 million in local grants.
Buddy Kolb, Greeneville's store manager, said 18 associates volunteered enough hours individually for the foundation to award 50 grants to their organization.
Each individual grant is $250.
This totaled nearly 1,500 hours for $12,500 in grant funding.
Associates may also volunteer on an "event" basis in groups, Kolb explained.
Three events qualified for this grant funding, with 112 associates volunteering a total 812 hours.
Each group grant is $5,000.
The American Cancer Society received two of the group grants, while the Mosheim Volunteer Fire Department received the third.
"If they (employees) have a cause that is important enough to them that they're volunteering their time for it, then Walmart will also make a monetary donation to that organization on behalf of that associate," Kolb explained.
"I think it is a great benefit that's offered by Walmart to the associates of the company," he added. "There are a lot of different organizations throughout the county that receive those grants.
"One of the biggest [events] that we have is the American Cancer Society. We have a lot of people that work here [who have] been touched by cancer.
"I think last year our store was fifth in the nation in fundraising by Walmart stores for the American Cancer Society.
"Different people have different things that are important to them," he later added. "That's the good thing about this program."