"My reward is seeing their gratitude." — Kris Columbus
During EquipmentShare’s Giving Back Week, Kris Columbus volunteered at an event sponsored by his local police department that gave away 200 bicycles and helped kids learn to ride them. He also visited a school to help with its reading program. And he drove his ice cream truck — yes, he owns an ice cream truck — to a nursing home to bring free tasty treats to its residents.
That seems like a lot of volunteer work for one week, but it was business as usual for Columbus, the parts manager of EquipmentShare’s Southwest Houston branch. He belongs to several service organizations in his hometown of Texas City, including the Citizens Police Academy Alumni Association. His connection to law enforcement and civic duty comes from his father, a former officer in the Galveston County Sheriff’s Department.
“My dad’s thing was, if you weren’t registered to vote, you couldn’t stay in his house. He was that guy,” Columbus said. “So being active in the community was important to him. He always said you had to be a part of it to make a change.”
EquipmentShare encourages all its employees to improve their communities through volunteer work and support for worthy local causes. Each of EquipmentShare’s more than 165 branches receives a $2,500 annual budget for giving back. In addition to offering employees 16 hours per year paid volunteer time off (VTO), EquipmentShare held its third-annual Giving Back Week on April 17-22, 2023. Employees were encouraged to spend two hours volunteering.
At corporate headquarters in Columbia, Missouri, EquipmentShare partnered with five charitable organizations to provide goods and services to those who need them most. Employees made 575 clothing and hygiene kits to be distributed by the Heart of Missouri United Way and Love Columbia. Other employees volunteered with the Food Bank for Central & Northeast Missouri, the Columbia Center for Urban Agriculture and the City of Columbia’s Adopt-A-Spot program.
Employees at EquipmentShare’s branches nationwide volunteered in their cities, as well.
“Giving Back Week gives EquipmentShare an opportunity to increase its community footprint,” said Dakarayi Chabayi, EquipmentShare’s community engagement specialist. “It’s important that we make a difference in the communities where we operate.”
Columbus didn’t need any extra encouragement to get involved in his Texas hometown. When he retired from the Army after 25 years of service, he bought an ice cream truck, thinking he might operate it as a side business. But he mostly uses it when one of his organizations is participating in a community service event.
“I also thought I would get a lot of kids as customers, but most of my ‘kids’ are 35 and older,” he said with a laugh.
His decision to leave his previous job — where he often worked 70 or more hours per week — and join EquipmentShare in February 2023 was based in part on having more time for volunteer work. It’s a family tradition he is now passing down to his own daughters.
“What I get out of it is just seeing what we can do to help people,” Columbus said. “My reward is seeing their gratitude.”