Miller Electric + YMCA Buddy Bags = Constructive Collaboration

Thursday, September 07, 2017

Buddy Bags

Miller Electric Mfg. Co., with help from kids at the YMCA, packed Buddy Bags for the Kaukauna Police Department.

Contributor: Megan Biese, Marketing Manager - Power Systems Division at Miller Electric Mfg. Co.

United Way Fox Cities Emerging Leaders and Leadership Givers at Miller Electric Mfg. Co. recently learned about the impact the YMCA's “Buddy Bag” program is having in the community, and wanted to find a way to help.

The Buddy Bag program was created in an effort to comfort children involved in traumatic situations and help police officers build rapport. Equipped with preassembled bags packed in the trunks of their squad cars, local first responders distribute the bags to children who witness or have been involved in a stressful event such as an automobile accident, domestic disturbance, or homeless situation. Inside the Buddy Bag backpack a child will find an age-appropriate book, a coloring book and crayons, and a small, cuddly stuffed animal. Currently the program is running in collaboration with the Fox Valley Metro and Kaukauna Police Departments.

A Kaukauna police officer shared, "We made a traffic stop on a vehicle and the driver turned out to have a warrant. It was an older woman that had her 8-year-old granddaughter in the front seat. As I spoke with her outside of the vehicle, the child was hysterical. I asked another officer to grab a Buddy Bag. We gave it to the child and she immediately stopped crying. I think the Buddy Bag made a big difference."
 
Leaders of the Miller group met with Heart of the Valley YMCA Executive Director, Sharon Johnson, to understand the needs of the program and decided that a fundraiser would be the most appropriate means to help expand the program. Each division at Miller held a pancake breakfast the morning of August 8th, selling pancakes, sausage, and orange juice to employees. All planning, cooking, and promotional efforts were done by United Way Fox Cities Emerging Leaders and Leadership Givers in the divisions. With a match from ITW, the pancake breakfast raised $8,000 for the Buddy Bag program.
 
Sharon Johnson said, “We are so excited about the recent success and interest we have had with our Buddy Bag program. We absolutely could not have done that without Miller Electric’s support. What they have provided in both time and financial support will allow us to maintain Buddy Bags for both Fox Valley Metro PD and Kaukauna PD for many years to come.”