Microsoft Employees Come Together to Feed Children

11/27/12

Dean Michelsen is a veteran when it comes to packaging meals for children in need. The Microsoft service engineer experienced his first meal packaging event when his church, Northwest Foursquare Church in Federal Way, Washington, partnered with Children of the Nations (COTN) to help feed thousands of children in Africa and the Caribbean. “Helping the poor is part of the way of life for a Christian,” Dean says. And packaging meals “is a very direct way to get items to the people who really need it.”

Last month, Dean and some of his co-workers put these ideas into action during Microsoft’s annual Giving Campaign. Every October, during the campaign, the company hosts fundraising events and matches every donation given to charity. Dean says that packaging meals “encapsulated the whole original idea of the giving campaign—helping those less fortunate than us. It brings people together for the common good.”

While he believed that packaging meals perfectly lined up with Microsoft’s Giving Campaign, Dean also felt that it would serve as an excellent team-building exercise. And he was right. Twenty Microsoft employees came together for the event, raising $1,540 and packaging 6,000 meals for children in COTN’s care. In the process, the employees learned more about each other. A few even brought their children in for the event. “You kind of have to let down your guard,” says Clare Megathlin, Microsoft’s Director of Solution Management and the event’s organizer. “That’s what makes it fun.”

For COTN, being invited to participate in Microsoft’s Giving Campaign was an exciting new opportunity to partner with a local business that already does so much to help children in need. “We work with a lot of schools and churches but we don’t work with a lot of businesses,” says Fraser Ratzlaff, COTN’s Seattle Area Community Representative. “If you think about it, it’s pretty amazing that we live in a country with companies that encourage charitable giving like this. And just like these employees are setting a great example for their co-workers, friends, and neighbors, Microsoft is setting a great example for other companies.”

This service project, Dean says, is very unique for Microsoft and was one of the few events in which the whole family could participate. The response to the meal packaging event was very positive. “The stories of how these kids’ lives change, and the examples, are what helped [us] build connection [with COTN]” says Clare. Inspired by the event and the information Fraser shared, several employees asked how they could become more involved with COTN by going on Venture Trips and packaging meals in their own communities. Because of this year’s enthusiastic response, Dean and Clare are looking forward to next year and planning for an even bigger turnout.

Get involved today! Plan your own meal packaging event, join a Venture Team, or sign up to sponsor a child today!