Get Involved: Workplace Giving

 In Culture, Feature

Local companies make it easy to find a career that gives back.


It’s easy to see what St. Louis’ most notable corporations do for the city’s economy, but what’s less known is the behind-the-scenes volunteer work they empower their employees to perform—close to home and even overseas. These give-back initiatives are becoming an attractive selling point for young professionals looking for careers with more to offer than the typical nine-to-five. So if a philanthropy-friendly job is what you seek, take a look at what these local companies are doing to help their employees give back. Who knows: They might inspire you to work with your own company to do good—or at least get the conversation started.

A Shoe on Every Foot
A recent charity project at Brown Shoe took a group of St. Louis employees all the way to Port-au-Prince, Haiti on a mission to collect and donate shoes to children in need. Thanks to a partnership with its Zodiac USA brand and the Soles4Souls charity, 14 Brown Shoe employees were able to visit schools and orphanages in some of the poorest parts of the city. Throughout the trip, volunteers washed and measured more than 800 children’s feet and provided them with new shoes. The experience was indescribable for the volunteers, and thanks to its success, Brown Shoe hopes to plan more trips like this in the future, in addition to the regular donations it makes to local organizations like COCA, Grand Center, the Saint Louis Zoo and Saint Louis Art Museum. Brown Shoe also matches its employees’ charitable donations.

From Corporate to Community
Finding the time to volunteer takes effort, especially with limited time off, but companies like Ernst & Young are making it a little easier. The company holds EY Connect Days each summer to give employees the day off to work on volunteer projects supporting education, environmental sustainability and entrepreneurship. This year, nearly 40 percent of EY’s St. Louis office spent the day working with Junior Achievement, Habitat for Humanity and a couple of local nurseries. To top it off, EY rewards those employees who participate with a celebratory thank-you outing a week later.

Lending a Paw

Once a year, employees of Nestlé Purina take the day off for PetCare Pride Day to build dog houses, cat scratching posts and other items for local animal shelters. While looking out for animals is high on the company’s priority list, Purina’s employees have also cooked meals for the city’s homeless and made blankets for children’s hospitals on these days. A few years ago, employees even performed “Extreme Animal Shelter Makeovers” by cleaning and reorganizing local shelters. In addition, Purina’s parent company, Nestlé S. A., donates more than $1 million to the United Way of Greater St. Louis annually and funds Summer Youth Enrichment Programs to educate urban youth about animal welfare and pet-related careers.

More Ways to Give
Check with your employer to see if it participates in these common forms of corporate giving.
Anheuser-Busch is one local company that awards small grants to nonprofits close to its employees’ hearts through its volunteer grant program. A-B has also partnered with institutions like Teach for America, Harris-Stowe University and Webster University.
Build-a-Bear donates a portion of its proceeds to benefit literacy, children’s health and domestic pet programs. It also accepts grant requests for charities relating to animals, children or families.
Joint Giving
Through a recent philanthropic contest, Giving Back, Enterprise allows employees to nominate charities, and visitors to the Facebook page can vote on which charities should receive funding.



Brown Shoe charity trip to Haiti.

Brown Shoe charity trip to Haiti.


Brown Shoe charity trip to Haiti.


Photo credit: Photos courtesy of Brown Shoe Company

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