Mercury Marine’s annual “Fill the Boat to Cast Out Hunger” food drive to benefit the Fondy Food Pantry has raised close to $13,000 — a new record for food and cash donations. For a full week, Mercury employees in Fond du Lac, Wis., participate in one of the most popular company events of the year. In 2019, Mercury employees contributed 4,811 pounds of nonperishable food donations, an increase of 82 percent over last year’s food donations. In fact, more than one employee volunteer quoted the famous line from the movie, Jaws — “You’re going to need a bigger boat” — when loading the food donations for delivery to Fondy Food Pantry. The donations filled not only the boat that is traditionally used to hold the donations but also the bed of the pickup truck pulling it and some space in a Mercury facilities box truck that was enlisted to assist with the haul.
“I am honored to work here at Mercury Marine with a group of employees who care so much about our community,” said Carrie Rohde, a Lean Six Sigma master black belt at Mercury and chair of the employees’ Fill the Boat Committee. “They demonstrated so much enthusiasm and we all had a lot of fun putting on this event, even with some scrambling to respond to weather challenges,” she said.
The event took place Oct. 7‑11 at Mercury’s Fond du Lac campus. In keeping with custom, the week’s activities culminated with a Friday cookout for employees. This year, the cookout celebrated not only the food drive but also Mercury’s 80th anniversary. Not even a steady dose of rain could dampen the spirits of the employees, who took the celebration indoors.
Andres Gonzalez, Mercury vice president of human resources, said this year’s event was particularly memorable. “To surpass our donation totals from last year is very rewarding. It demonstrates our employees’ commitment to supporting the communities where we work and live,” said Gonzalez. “The inclement weather had the effect of enhancing our camaraderie, as everyone worked together to get things moved indoors and have a truly enjoyable gathering.”
Fondy Food Pantry has been a fixture in the greater Fond du Lac community for 45 years. The organization serves roughly 1,100 individuals in need, distributing an average of 30,000 pounds of food, every month. It feeds 780 children every week.
“The pantry’s requirements for food donations and financial support have never been greater as we serve ever‑increasing numbers of neighbors in need,” said Sandy Breth, Fondy Food Pantry president. “Fill the Boat is a hugely generous endeavor on the part of Mercury employees, and one for which we are ever grateful.”
Breth underscored Mercury’s close partnership with the pantry and the local community. “You’ve been instrumental in our ability to help others over the years,” she said. “We want to take this opportunity to join with the greater Fond du Lac community in congratulating Mercury Marine on your 80th anniversary year. Just as one of your 80th anniversary taglines calls Fond du Lac ‘The Heart of Mercury,’ surely Mercury Marine is also ‘The Heart of Fond du Lac.’”