Boone Walmart Wins National Leadership Award for Community Service | Local News

BOONE – Walmart may not be a family store, but among the company’s thousands of stores, Boone’s Walmart has been recognized for excellence in community engagement and leadership.

Highlighting community involvement through charity, community service and leadership, Walmart’s Helen R. Walton Community Leadership Excellence Award was presented to the Boone Walmart store on March 9.

Behind the big-box store’s apparel displays and gleaming linoleum, store manager Billy Wells said Boone’s Walmart has worked hard to find ways to support local community organizations.

“It’s a local community – we always try to find organizations trying to help with hunger, or backpacking programs or supplies,” Wells said.

These organizations are household names for High Country residents and include the Hunger and Health Coalition, the Watauga Humane Society, the Boone Police Department and The Hospitality House, Wells said.

According to Wells, Walmart donates 1,000 pounds of food each month to the Hunger and Health Coalition, and thousands of blankets and pounds of pet food have been donated to the Watauga Humane Society.

“A lot of times it’s that we give food from our back door,” Wells said. “Sometimes we get extra stuff, or we’re at the end of the season and can give cereal, bread or just canned goods.”

Walmart also receives donations to the store and prepares brown bag meals, which are donated directly to the Hunger and Health Coalition, and Wells said the store also sends monetary rewards so the organization can purchase items based on its own needs.

In a Walmart-produced video highlighting the achievement of Boone’s location, Boone Police Department Chief Andy LeBeau said it was significant when Walmart backed police after two sheriff’s deputies died. in April 2021.

“They contacted us, called us, seeing what support we needed. If you go there today there is still a tribute to the two officers who were killed in the line of duty,” LeBeau said.

Sometimes Boone’s Walmart is able to expand beyond Boone. Wells said the store has partnered with Casting Bread Ministries, a food pantry in Blowing Rock, as well as organizations as far-flung as Mountain City and Walmart’s national Fight Hunger campaign. Through the Fight Hunger campaign, in June and July, Wells said Walmart was able to secure 49,720 meals from customer registry donations and the store was able to add an additional 17,000 meals for a total of about 67,000. meals given.

When it comes time for budget season, Wells said he always looks to spend 100% of his budget on donations to the local community.

Wells has worked at Boone’s Walmart, also known as Walmart 2496, for three years.

“I grew up extremely poor, I went to college – and I struggled – but I can tell you that Walmart, and my management team and my associates, it’s stressful at times, but it’s It’s probably the most rewarding part of working with Walmart,” Wells said. .

He said he was proud of the store and that they had managed to raise staff salaries.

“That we work together as a community, as associates and in the community to help support each other, which makes us want to come back to work every day and try to provide the best customer experience possible. that we can offer,” Wells said.

Marisa Mecke is a member of the Report for America body for Mountain Times Publications. Report for America is a national, nonprofit service program that places reporters in local newsrooms to report on underreported issues.

Jill E. Washington