The Howard County Food Bank in Columbia, Maryland, gained valuable volunteers and donations from Planet Home Lending as the organization partnered with Farmlink to deliver farm-fresh produce to the food bank.
Volunteers from Planet Home Lending didn’t just donate canned goods and other grocery items — they got their hands dirty, pulled weeds, fertilized plants and supported multiple organizations through their volunteer efforts.
Battling food insecurity is only one of the many charitable causes that Planet Home Lending supports through its Planet With a Purpose initiative. Below, Samantha Manfer, chief business development and brand officer at Planet Home Lending, answered a few questions for HousingWire about the company’s recent contributions.
HOUSINGWIRE: What inspired Planet Home Lending to get connected with Farmlink and the Howard Country Food Bank?
SAMANTHA MANFER: We funded the Farmlink Project’s Impact Tour to spread the word to farmers with surplus crops that they could donate to local food banks. That initial support helped Farmlink to grow from a grassroots student organization in California to a national organization with a dozen employees.
With help from Planet With a Purpose (PWaP), Farmlink has shipped more than 40 million pounds of food — preventing 41 million pounds of carbon emissions and delivering more than 62 million meals to hungry people.
HW: What have been the major successes of the Planet With a Purpose campaigns?
SM: When we started our social responsibility platform, PWaP, our goal was to support and grow nonprofits that have the potential to improve the world, the communities we serve and our planet’s health.
Planet Home Lending has funded the planting of more than a quarter million trees in our National Forests over four years via a partnership with the National Forest Foundation. Planting trees helps sequester our nation’s carbon footprint. The quarter-million trees will help store 125,000 metric tons of carbon emissions over their lifetimes.
This year Planet is planting trees in the Arapaho, Roosevelt, Francis Marion, Sumter and Chippewa National Forests in Colorado, South Carolina and Minnesota, respectively. The restoration project includes a wildfire recovery and a native habitat restoration for endangered species.
HW: How has the local community been impacted by your volunteers and charitable donations?
SM: The Community Action Council of Howard County’s community garden grows organic produce for its food bank. Volunteering in the garden and the food bank highlights that people affected by food scarcity deserve fresh vegetables in the summer just like everyone else.
Planet employees picked tomatoes at the garden and also sorted produce donated to the food bank by backyard gardeners. We saw how happy the food bank customers were to receive summer’s bounty of tomatoes, zucchini, cucumbers, peppers and other vegetables.
HW: Is there anything else you’d like to share?
SM: Aside from PWaP, Planet has employees from executive team members all the way to entry-level contributors who have served our country. Endowing a scholarship with the Army Scholarship Foundation is a way to honor and thank them, as well as our many VA borrowers.
The Army Scholarship Foundation is a 100% volunteer organization, so there are no overhead costs. We like that every dollar we donate gives service members’ families who’ve sacrificed so much for us a chance to grow and learn.