Apr 20, 2012 • By

Helping a community bloom again

A strong tornado hit the small town of Henryville, Ind., on March 2 and that community and surrounding area suffered heavy damage.

We have a plant in nearby New Albany, and our employees there have dealt with the fate of their own homes and property – many had hail damage, broken windows and roofs that blew off houses.

But they recently set aside their own concerns and decided to partner with the Indiana Department of Natural Resources to transplant trees into the Henryville neighborhoods hit hardest.

“Each year we have several community service projects, and one is always focused on the environment,” says New Albany Plant Manager John Cervenak. “The region lost so many trees, and we decided it would be a form of recovery, beautification, restoration and would boost morale to plant trees.”

So, on April 14, nearly 40 employees met up with the Clark County Forestry Department and were asked to plant saplings where they saw stakes in people’s yards.

Homeowners had been given those stakes by the Forestry Department and were told to place them in the ground where they someday wanted a tree to grow.

While they worked, thunderstorms moved in, but the volunteers braved the rain to plant approximately 200 trees. This week, volunteers returned to the area to continue to plant, and to distribute saplings to homeowners to plant themselves.

This isn’t the first time employees at the New Albany plant have picked up the volunteer spirit. Over the years they’ve cleaned a nearby park to honor Earth Day, donated time to a local youth shelter, sorted food for a local food bank, assembled holiday baskets for a youth crisis care center and more.

Editor’s note: Our volunteers in the Henryville area also were highlighted in a story, with more photos, in the Louisville Courier-Journal (“Volunteers help replace Henryville trees lost in March 2 tornado”).

This is the final post in a series highlighting our employee volunteering initiative, Think Global, Volunteer Local. The first post was “Lunch break volunteer,” the second was “Proud to partner with JA,” and the third was “5 questions with Donna Svendsen.” For more on our focus on volunteerism, visit GeneralMills.com.