Meals of love made possible

Faurecia employees in Columbus are heading into the home stretch of their annual drive to provide thousands of meals to the hungry through Love Chapel.

Local employees are part of the company’s global effort in the sixth annual Faurecia Unites with Employees for Local Service (FUELS) program, which has a goal of providing 1 million meals to food banks in communities where Faurecia has a presence.

In Columbus, employees at the company’s Gladstone Avenue plant and its emissions control technologies facility in Walesboro are working to exceed this year’s goal of providing 16,327 meals at Love Chapel and have raised about $3,100 through raffles and fundraising activities at the plant.

Fundraising events such as raffling off front-row parking spots for employees and specialty baskets will result in even more cash coming in to feed the hungry, said Tracey Phillips, FUELS spokesperson at the Gladstone plant.

The Columbus/Gladstone plant has donated more than 90,000 meals since the FUELS program started there in 2010, company spokesman Brian McFawn said.

One pound of food is equal to one meal, and every $1 donated is equal to three meals, the company said.

“Employees have a blast with this,” Phillips said of the activities that raise the money, including a dunk tank manned by plant managers and supervisors, and a chili lunch and championship cook-off, where an employee earns bragging rights for the best chili produced for the event.

In addition to donating food that is given to Love Chapel, employees also volunteered for a Sept. 9 work day at the agency, where they painted the interior of a house used to shelter homeless families, Phillips said. Employees also worked at the agency to sort food and helped with other tasks the agency needed, Phillips said.

The FUELS program is one of the largest food drives of the year for Love Chapel, which serves about 1,200 households per month, Elizabeth Kestler, executive director for the Ecumenical Assembly of Bartholomew County Churches-Love Chapel, said in an earlier interview.

The Faurecia company site that beats its own 2014 food collection record by the highest percentage will be named winner of the 2015 FUELS challenge.

Faurecia is planning to donate $1,000 to the food bank partner of each site that meets its goal, plus $5,000 to the food bank of the most successful site in the United States, Canada and in Mexico.

In 2014, the Sterling Heights, Michigan, and Fraser, Michigan, facilities shared the title for collecting the most food in the United States and Canada. Results from this year’s campaign are expected to be tallied after Faurecia locations complete efforts at the end of September.

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Faurecia designs, develops and manufactures car seats, emissions control technologies, car interior systems and parts for auto exteriors. Faurecia is the world’s seventh-largest automotive equipment supplier, employing 99,500 people in 34 countries at 330 sites. Faurecia had sales of $6.2 billion in 2014.

In Columbus, it has a plant on Gladstone Avenue and an emissions control technologies facility in Walesboro. With about 1,600 employees in Columbus, Faurecia is Bartholomew County’s fifth-largest employer.