January 5, 2024
At Sam’s Club, we aren’t just member obsessed, we’re community obsessed, too. We love giving back to the communities we serve. In addition to serving communities through programs like Feeding America, Spark Good and the Children’s Miracle Network fundraising campaign, in 2023, Sam’s Club had the opportunity to provide two $100,000 holiday give backs to two community organizations: Orlando-based One Heart for Women and Children and Phoenix-based Kitchen on the Street.
Throughout Sam’s Club’s 40-year history, associates have been at the forefront of our giving. They champion local programs, including our food donation program, our efforts to help communities respond to disasters and our Volunteerism Always Pays (VAP) program, which gives matching grants to eligible nonprofits when our associates volunteer with them. As we look back at the last year, we wanted to shine a light on four of those champions: Paul Argenziano, Yajaira Castro, Becky Schoewe and Don Harpin.
Club Manager Paul Argenziano has actively served his community of Tarentum, Pennsylvania, since his first day on the job – more than 34 years ago! For the past 11 years, Paul has volunteered with the Miracle League of Western Pennsylvania, which provides children and adults with physical and mental disabilities with the opportunity to play baseball. After starting as a coach, he began serving on the board of directors and is now the vice president of the league. Through Walmart and Sam’s Club’s VAP program, Paul’s hours have helped provide Miracle League’s players with uniforms and league expenses. On top of that, the Walmart Foundation provided an additional $10,000 grant to the Miracle League in 2023, which Paul says will go toward the replacement of their playing surface. For Paul, the VAP program has been a win/win: he gets to serve with his time and attention, and Sam’s Club backs that up with community grants to support the causes and community he loves.
Florida-based Market Manager Yajaira Castro says she was deeply impacted by the kindness others showed her family when she was growing up. As a result, she has a “pay it forward” mentality when it comes to giving back to others, a mindset she says is also espoused by Sam’s Club. When Hurricane Fiona landed in Puerto Rico in 2022, Yajaira and fellow Sam’s Club associates were immediately on the ground helping with rescue efforts and cleaning beaches. Yajaira worked with managers and associates from Sam’s Clubs across the region to assemble goody bags, load pallets of water onto trucks and serve their communities. “They did not hesitate for a minute,” Yajaira said, adding that she sees that same mindset in the clubs she serves across Florida. “I’m super proud to be part of a company that gives back to its community and associates.”
When Becky Schoewe transitioned from her position as a Sam’s Club fresh manager to a project manager in Operations Support at Sam’s Club’s corporate office, her first task was to identify how to support Feeding America with food donations from Sam’s Club. Becky was part of the team who created the program in 2008, and since then, Sam’s Club, Walmart and our distribution centers have donated more than 7.5 billion pounds of food to Feeding America affiliated food banks. After learning about the needs at her local food pantries and soup kitchens, Becky began volunteering her time. When her children were old enough, she involved them in her volunteer work. As she continued to give back to her community through volunteering, Becky saw how Sam’s Club could further amplify her efforts through VAP grants and other Walmart Foundation programs. Today, Becky and her family continue to volunteer with the American Heart Association, American Diabetes Association and Feeding America, and she appreciates working for a company that rewards volunteerism and supports the causes associates care about in their communities.
When Human Resources Manager Don Harpin was asked to spearhead Fulfillment Center 6490’s annual Day of Service last year, he was drawn to the impactful work of the South Middlesex Opportunity Council (SMOC), which provides resources, housing assistance, meals, clothing and more to individuals and families in and around Worcester, Massachusetts. On their designated day of service, more than a dozen Sam’s Club volunteers arrived to pack lunches and sort donated clothes. Then, upon learning SMOC had a recurring need for items, that single day of service evolved into an ongoing activity, not just for Don but for the entire fulfillment center team. Last year, Fulfillment Center 6490 donated snacks, beverages, more than 3,000 beach towels, blankets and pillows, along with clamshells for packing additional lunches. Beyond material donations, the Walmart Foundation stepped in, providing SMOC with a $5,000 grant. And Don says Fulfillment Center 6490’s giving – of time, goods and services – will continue into 2024. “The possibilities for giving are almost endless with this organization,” Don said. “It just shows as a company that we do what we say we’re going to do. We really put forward what we talk about.”
Forty years after we opened the doors of our very first Sam’s Club, our deep commitment to making a positive impact continues to drive the way we care for members – inside and outside the walls of our nearly 600 clubs. Like Don, Becky, Yajaira and Paul, we are invested in strengthening the communities in which members and associates live, work and play. We’ve been member and community obsessed for four decades, and we’ll continue to be so for decades to come.