Community Engagement Report
Keeping Lives in Motion
“The challenges we faced in 2020 as a company, and as individuals, families, and community members, were unprecedented and unrelenting. Like many, our top priority was to ensure the safety of those we care about. The year stretched all of us beyond our capacities, and for us at the Wills Group, it put our purpose — Lives in Motion — to the test.”
President, Chairman, and CEO
Wills Group, Inc.
Listening to Our Partners
on the Frontlines
Since the onset of the pandemic, the number of people in the United States facing food insecurity was projected to rise to more than 50 million, including 17 million children. In response, food banks nationwide stepped up to ensure our neighbors impacted by the crisis have the food and essentials they need.
All of us at the Wills Group were proud to support our regional food bank and local nonprofit partners working on the frontlines in 2020 to address the increased and urgent needs of our communities. Through the hard work and dedication of our employees, we were able to increase our financial support and implement new ways of working with our partners.
4.2 billion meals
distributed by food banks nationwide from March through October
of food banks across the country served more people than in 2019
1 in 6 Americans
could face hunger as a result of the pandemic
Source: Feeding America
Responding to the Growing
The Wills Group and Dash In provided $500,000 in unrestricted grants in 2020 to four regional food banks and three local nonprofit partners to address hunger issues related to COVID-19.
As the pandemic spread globally in March, the Wills Group and Dash In worked quickly to provide resources and support to regional food banks and nonprofit organizations, lending a helping hand as our partners struggled to keep up with the increased demand for food.
In March, $200,000 in unrestricted grants was distributed to four regional food banks — Capital Area Food Bank, Feed More, Food Bank of Delaware, and Maryland Food Bank.The funds helped support immediate response efforts as our partners assessed and reacted to the early impact of the pandemic. The food banks utilized the dollars in emerging areas of need, such as pre-made meal kits, modified distribution strategies, and volunteer recruitment.
As the demand for food continued to rise, in June, the Wills Group provided an additional $200,000 to our four regional food bank partners, as well as $100,000 to three Southern Maryland nonprofit organizations — Farming 4 Hunger, LifeStyles of Maryland, and Southern Maryland Food Bank — to support their food pantries and response efforts targeting hard-to-reach areas. These funds supported the expansion of our partners’ mobile food distribution efforts, ensuring more individuals and families could access food resources.
Lifting Up Our Local Heroes Working on the Frontlines
Dash In and its employees put their commitment to the communities they serve into action with the launch of the new Lift Up program, supporting healthcare professionals and first responders working on the frontlines across the more than 50 communities where Dash In stores are located throughout the Mid-Atlantic region.
The first Dash In Lift Up activation provided free breakfast sandwiches to all healthcare professionals and first responders who visited any Dash In location from the end
of April through early May.
The second Lift Up event served as an opportunity for Dash In customers to get involved and express their appreciation for their local heroes by sending a Dash In Snack-O-Gram — a free snack accompanied by a personalized message for healthcare professionals and first responders working across Delaware, Maryland, and Virginia.
The Snack-O-Gram program ran through May, with Dash In and Wills Group team members delivering more than 2,500 Snack-O-Grams to 10 healthcare organizations and fire departments in early June.
Snack-O-Grams delivered to 10 healthcare organizations and fire departments
“It was incredible to see all of the Dash In employees coming together to deliver the Snack-O-Grams… we really value the kind words we received – and the snacks!”
Development and Events Officer, Baltimore Washington Medical Center Foundation
Hosting a Mobile Food Bank in La Plata
On July 8, the Wills Group’s headquarters in La Plata, Maryland, became the location for a mobile food bank. This mobile food distribution site enabled the Maryland Food Bank — working with the Maryland Department of Transportation, along with local officials and volunteers — to safely and efficiently provide boxes of food through a contactless drive-through.
The Wills Group was proud to collaborate with local nonprofit partners, including End Hunger Charles County, LifeStyles of Maryland, and Servants of Christ Ministries, to host this essential event and distribute 250 fresh produce meal kits and 400 gallons of milk to local individuals and families in need.
250 fresh produce meal kits provided
400 gallons of milks distributed
Coming Together to Raise Awareness and Funds
The Wills Group raised almost $175,000 in support of the Blackie Wills Community Leadership Fund at its fourth annual Blackie Wills Golf Classic, held on September 14, at Turf Valley Resort in Ellicott City, Maryland.
While we were able to host this year’s tournament in adherence to the Maryland state and CDC guidelines, we knew some of our partners would not be able to join us. However, many were able to contribute to the Blackie Wills Community Leadership Fund — a welcome surprise that gave new meaning to, “We’ll be there in spirit.”
Funds raised at this year’s Blackie Wills Golf Classic will support ongoing community engagement efforts to end childhood hunger and respond to the increased needs of individuals and families in local communities impacted by COVID-19.
raised at the fourth annual Blackie Wills Golf Classic
Join Us in Addressing the Hunger Crisis
Need: Help Capital Area Food Bank purchase more food to meet increased demand.
Need: Assist Feed More in raising funds to increase their food supply to feed more people in need.
Need: Support Food Bank of Delaware’s mobile distribution efforts to deliver food to the hardest-to-reach communities.
Need: Join Maryland Food Bank in its efforts to raise $28 million in critical funds to address rising food insecurity.
“The Wills Group’s donation went toward supporting Capital Area Food Bank’s mobile food pantries. Between July 1 and September 30, 2020, our mobile pantries distributed over 425,400 pounds of food, approximately 75 percent of which was fresh fruits and vegetables.”
President and CEO, Capital Area Food Bank
“With the help of the Wills Group, we were able to support our partner agencies working on the ground to get food to communities that need it most. The funding also enabled us to build on our fresh produce program and increase distribution via mobile pantries.”
CEO and President, Feed More
“With the help of the Wills Group, the Food Bank of Delaware expanded our mobile food pantries and extended our backpack program to be offered year-round, ensuring children have access to food they would typically receive through school breakfast and lunch programs.”
Chief Development Officer, Food Bank of Delaware
“The donation from the Wills Group went directly to food purchasing, which was our biggest need in 2020. From March to October, we distributed more than 42 million pounds of food statewide — a 96-percent increase from 2019.”
Director of Development, Maryland Food Bank
The Wills Group would like to recognize the members of the Community Leadership Team and the community engagement committees. In spite of the many challenges we faced in 2020, they selflessly invested themselves in carrying out the Wills Group’s commitment to community engagement.
Community Leadership Team
- Lock Wills (Co-Chair)
- Tara Handy (Co-Chair)
- Mary Jane Garner
- Ken Halperin
- Don Hamberger
- Amanda Nelson
- Mark Oliver
- Caitlin Peden
- Brooke Rieman
- Sam Stornelli
- Blackie Wills
- Joe Wills
- Michele Wills
Community Impact Committee
- Amanda Nelson (Co-Chair)
- Caitlin Peden (Co-Chair)
- Mary Jane Garner (Incoming Co-Chair)
- Sam Stornelli (Incoming Co-Chair)
- Mindy Butler
- Amanda Campbell
- Saher Jilani
- Kim Purdy
- Sajid Rahim
- Anthony Young
- Karen Zamostny
Match Campaign Committee
- Ken Halperin (Chair)
- Veronica Breck
- John Brucculeiri
- Sharon Espinosa
- David Lipshaw
- Aaron Mace
- Karen Zamostny
Community Events Committee
- Don Hamberger (Co-Chair)
- Brooke Rieman (Co-Chair)
- Brady Appleton
- Brian Fenwick
- Steve Gagliardi
- Huong Hogan
- Susan Peery
- Michelle Reeves
- Jim Tisack
- Lindsay Singleton
- Tabitha Wilson