Honda of America East Liberty Auto Plant associates Austin Mabrey, left, and Cindy Protheroe stand in the skyway of the plant next to the Trim A Tree Challenge Christmas trees. (EXAMINER PHOTO | MANDY LOEHR)
Twenty-eight festive Christmas trees decorated in a variety of themes lined the skyway entrance to the Honda of America East Liberty Auto Plant during the last month, and especially stood out during the early morning hours before sunrise or later afternoon after sunset as the twinkling lights helped to light the way into the plant.
The facility’s new general manager Jun Jayaraman, who assumed his role in April and previously worked as the Marysville Auto Plant’s Line Two Division Manager, said he had heard about the festive tradition at ELP and was excited to see it come alive this year. The Trim A Tree Challenge, along with a new Hope and Help Drive at the plant, were among a number of ways that associates could uplift area agencies during the holidays, including Our Daily Bread in Bellefontaine.
Jayaraman was impressed with the way his associates came together to help their community this year while also overcoming challenges posed by the COVID-19 crisis.
“I have a lot of pride in our associates for their efforts to give back, despite all of the difficulties that they and their families have experienced this year during the pandemic and the stress they have dealt with,” he said of the 2,350 associates employed there.
“With COVID this year, we wondered how we would be able to continue some of these important holiday giving traditions, but our associates were able to work their way around that.”
For the Trim A Tree contest for example, associate Cindy Protheroe said the trees themselves are usually donated to area charitable organizations. This year instead, the trees were sold to employees in a silent auction, which raised $2,200 in cash donations for Our Daily Bread.
“The silent auction by far exceeded our expectations,” Jayaraman said.
The plant’s Adopt A Family program with Our Daily Bread also continued this year, with between 175 to 200 children benefitting from the effort. In addition, a total of 700 hats, gloves and toys also were donated to the Bellefontaine non-profit organization.
Logan Acres Care Center residents also benefited from the Trim A Tree Challenge, with a box set up in the skyway for associates to donate special gifts for the senior citizens, such as lap blankets, lotion, slippers and other items.
Associate Austin Mabery of East Liberty, who works in supply chain management, said Honda volunteers typical- ly assist with serving a meal at Our Daily Bread during the holidays as well. They changed up the tradition this year and helped prepare meal kits that were distributed for curbside pick up.