Honda has traditionally sponsored a week of community service among its employees, dealers and suppliers that marks the June founding of American Honda Motor Co. in 1959. But because of the coronavirus outbreak last year, the company had to scrap its formal outreach program in favor of other efforts to support health care workers.
For 2021, Honda enlisted dealers and suppliers in an even bigger community involvement program. The automaker extended the annual Team Honda Week of Service to last the entire summer.
Activities have included restocking food banks that were depleted during the ups and downs of the coronavirus crisis and helping with school supplies.
Expanding the effort to the entire summer "allows us flexibility to work with nonprofit organizations who faced increased demand but that were also still operating in that COVID environment," Yvette Hunsicker, vice president of corporate social responsibility, inclusion and diversity at American Honda, told Automotive News.
The service projects attempt to meet needs in individual communities across North America, where conditions differ from place to place. About 160 dealers and 94 suppliers developed local projects, such as food drives, blood drives and even vaccination clinics. Some dealers and suppliers had multiple programs going.
"We work closely with our nonprofit partners, who are closer to the needs of the community," Hunsicker said. But a recurring area of concern has been food insecurity among families, she said, because the COVID-19 pandemic has depleted food banks, and adequate nutrition remains a persistent problem in many communities.
At the corporate level, Honda sponsored a virtual food drive that allowed donors to choose a local food bank or other nonprofits, such as Meals on Wheels, and select items to donate through an online portal.
Honda also matched the first $20,000 in contributions.
A virtual school supply drive in July and August allowed participants to pick items to donate to local school districts, from Calhoun County School District in Anniston, Ala., to Irving Schools Foundation in Irving, Texas. Honda also matched the first $20,000 in donations.
The company believes that allowing donors to choose specific food items and school supplies, and actually see the individual items that were needed, gave them a greater sense of participation than simply writing a check.
Among the summer program activities:
- Capitol City Honda in Olympia, Wash., held a vaccine clinic for employees.
- David Hobbs Honda in Glendale, Wis., participated in the Meals on Wheels program.
- Workers at Honda's Tallapoosa, Ga., transmission plant collected 19 pints of blood during a blood drive.
- Honda supplier Vitro Automotive Glass hosted a food drive and collected funds for two local organizations.
American Honda is considering whether to return to the traditional one week of service or repeat the all-summer format.