What makes Office Essentials special? Is it the pens, paper and supplies we sell? As much as we’d like to think so, no! You can get that from any number of other sources out there. What separates OE is the people who work here and the impact we’re proud to make in the St. Louis community.
A perfect example of this is the Mike Bush Fantasy Baseball Camp for Kids who are Deaf or Hard of Hearing. Office Essentials has worked with this outstanding organization for the last several years. I was lucky enough to inherit the role of point-person from a former rep.
In the past, we’ve donated water and volunteered our time during the week. This year we wanted to turn it up a notch by providing lunch to all campers and staff on the last day of camp. To make it happen, I had to recruit two of my colleagues, Dan Suchanek and Brandon Fleschman.
By Friday everyone was ready for one final day of baseball and camaraderie. It takes more than extreme temperatures and the constant threat of rain to dampen the spirits of these amazing kids.
While the campers hit the fields for their last scrimmages, our team unloaded the OE Fun Truck. We set up the OE tent and prepared to grill hot dogs.
The tried and true OE BBQ Grill has never let us down before. Yet, for some reason, it decided today was the day to give us trouble. Fredbird showed up and bought us some time. His arrival sent the kids into a collective frenzy.
Luckily Dan is unflappable, and he was able to work his magic on the grill. While he got the hot dogs cooking, Brandon and I set up our assembly line of buns, aluminum foil, and condiments. Lunchtime was fast approaching.
The moment that first blast of grilled hot dog aroma made it’s way to the field, all eyes turned from Fredbird to us. Dozens of little stomachs were ready for tubed meat, bread and ketchup (or mustard if you’re doing it right 😉).
Right on queue, the swirling skies, which had looked so ominous all day, finally opened up and we got drenched.
At this point, most of campers and volunteers hurried for cover in the main building. Not us, though. We didn’t back down in the face of danger. We persevered through intense thunder and lightning. We felt a bit like the band that played as the Titanic went down.
We promised lunch to 160 hungry kids and staffers, so we weren’t going to let a little rain get in the way of that. We pulled it off, and the rain let up enough to serve them everyone in time for the kids to attend the awards ceremony.
To quote one of the camp’s coaches and head coordinators, Butch Dimovitz, “this camp is all about adapting, man”.
Of course, I’m exaggerating the “struggles” we experienced cooking hot dogs. Nothing we went through comes close to what these kids deal with every day. It’s a real joy watching these kids if only for a week, forget about their troubles and just have fun.
I can confidently say that the memories, laughs and smiles we experienced this year will last us a lifetime.
It was our pleasure to give something back to the community we love. It’s a collection of people proud to be from St. Louis and embody the values that make this city so great.
For more pictures, head over to our Facebook page.