Last year, Karen Churchill decided to join her Salesforce co-workers for a volunteer shift at ACCFB.

That day, she was shocked to learn that 1 out of 5 Alameda County residents rely on the Food Bank for meals.

“We’re the tech capital of the country, with inordinate wealth, and yet so many people are living in poverty,” Karen said. “This disparity is indicative of our country and our world, and it’s only getting worse. It really opened my eyes to the problem. I committed then and there to being a part of the solution.”

“I committed then and there to being a part of the solution.”

One year of dedicated volunteering later, Karen had racked up over 370 volunteer hours at both ACCFB and other non-profits. She became one of Salesforce’s Top 100 employees for volunteer hours, and earned a $10,000 grant from Salesforce to donate to us. That’s the equivalent of over 22,500 meals!

To kick off National Volunteer Appreciation month, we caught up with Karen to learn more about her volunteer experience.

What motivated you to continue volunteering through the year?

The number one motivation I had all year long was the efficiency of ACCFB. In a three-hour shift, about 70 volunteers can provide 20,000+ meals for the community. I was so impressed with how well-used everyone’s time is. Very little training is needed. It’s a well-oiled machine, and I love being a part of it.

How did you feel when you learned you were one of Salesforce’s top 100 employees?

I was pretty sure I would achieve the Top 100 status, because I made it a goal and I watched my numbers all year. My goal was to volunteer more than 300+ hours during the year, and I ended with more than 370.

I have repetitive motion injuries, so I wasn’t able to do all my hours at ACCFB, but I tried to volunteer in the warehouse once a month. I have a variety of organizations I support. I tutor ESL learners for the Alameda Reads program. I’m a crisis counselor for the Crisis Text Line. I knit for charity. And I do a lot of one-off volunteering.

Varying my volunteering activities keeps me from further injuring myself, and also keeps me motivated. But all along, I knew I wanted the grant money to go to the ACCFB, who I knew would use it so well.

How does Salesforce encourage a culture of volunteering?

Salesforce has a wonderful culture of volunteerism, and gives employees tons of opportunities to volunteer. As part of its 1-1-1 model, the company gives employees seven paid days a year to volunteer with causes they choose, ranging from coaching little league to building schools and health clinics to leading social media campaigns to reduce domestic violence.

Salesforce also matches individual employee donations up to $5,000, and gives $10,000 grants to the top 100 volunteers each year to donate to the nonprofit of their choice. We’ve recorded more than 2.6 million global volunteer hours since Salesforce began.

What would you tell others to encourage them to volunteer for a shift?

Do it! Here’s why:

· Signing up is easy. ACCFB has many shifts, weekdays or weekends, and even some Sunday shifts.

· The warehouse is clean, organized, and accommodating. If you can’t lift bags of produce, you can sit and tie bags. If you can’t do that, the team will find a way to use your generously-donated time. The staff is friendly, and they play music to keep the place moving.

· This is a great activity to do with friends! Catch up while sorting produce! You can easily chat while working. And if you didn’t come with friends, you’ll make some there.

· You’ll be hard-pressed to find another volunteer experience where you can help so many people in such a short amount of time. You’ll help tens of thousands in one afternoon. You’ll feel so good about the positive difference you made in your community.

Ready to join Karen and make a difference in just three hours? Start here!