SMART sheet metal locals across the country mobilized for the first-ever Belonging and Excellence for ALL (BE4ALL) toy drive in December 2022, which served the dual purpose of distributing gifts to those in need and spreading the word about our union’s best-kept secret: the benefits of a career in the unionized sheet metal industry.
“One of the initiatives that we decided to get involved in this year was to start a toy drive, or at least partner with our locals and our contractor industry partners that are already involved in toy drives,” said SMART International Organizer and BE4ALL Committee member Josh Garner in an interview with SMART News. “We wanted to provide them with a gift tag that has a QR code on it that takes the recipient of these gifts to a landing page where they can learn about what it is to become a sheet metal worker, they can learn about our trade, they can learn about our industries.”
The BE4ALL Committee designed a template for the gift tag, which included the QR code linking to a website designed to appeal to prospective sheet metal workers of all ages. Locals then requested either printed tags or emailed templates to be printed on Avery labels and affixed to gifts. Additionally, locals and contractors were encouraged to collect union-made, construction-themed toys, maintaining a cohesive theme for the event.
Garner explained that, as union members, SMART sheet metal workers are already involved in the community, giving back via their essential labor and through year-round community service. The BE4ALL toy drive offered the opportunity to further those service efforts while providing more information to the general public on what sheet metal workers actually do.
“We have a lot of young parents who may be looking for that opportunity to provide a better life for their families, their children,” he told SMART News. “This gives us an opportunity to bring awareness to our industry, to our trade, and hopefully pay it forward and pass those opportunities on to other individuals as well.”
The principles of solidarity and lifting people up are core to SMART and the labor movement at large. The BE4ALL toy drive embodied those values and demonstrated the fact that all workers benefit when we act to support one another.
“When you’re able to be involved in an initiative like this toy drive and you’re able to give back – there’s not a better feeling, there really isn’t,” Garner added.
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