Jon Israel, a Building and Construction Trades Department (BCTD) member, didn’t plan on falling off the roof of a house he was working on in Barrington, R.I. a few weeks ago. He also didn’t plan on the local labor movement organizing a holiday fundraiser to help his family get through his recovery from the serious injuries he sustained from the fall.
Yet there is a long history in the labor movement of stepping up community service during the holiday season. In Rhode Island, local labor unions are starting early with the holiday cheer this year. In addition to the fundraiser for Jon Israel, union members in Rhode Island are organizing a wide variety of community service opportunities.
It starts with the 15th Annual Union Kettle Day on Dec. 1. Every year, union workers station themselves outside dozens of stores across Rhode Island during the month of December to collect donations for the Salvation Army. Last year, they brought in $8,500; this year, they’re aiming higher.
Local unions are also providing the manpower for the annual Feed 1,000 Rhode Islanders campaign, working with the nonprofit Feed 1,000 to serve meals to needy families on Dec. 15. Additionally, BCTD is continuing their ongoing wheelchair ramp program, training apprentices to construct free wheelchair ramps in homes where seniors need them.
“Union members have a long and proud tradition of public service,” said Dave Demuth, a Teamsters’ Local 251 member who organized the Union Kettle Program in 1998 and has run it ever since. “We are pleased to serve the communities in which we live and work and are honored to assist the Salvation Army in this most compassionate campaign.”
What are some ways that you like to give back during the holidays?
Read more from the Rhode Island AFL-CIO: "15th Annual Rhode Island Labor Union “Kettle” Day Labor helps Rhode Islanders this Christmas Season."