Rooted in Kansas City, H&R Block volunteers help Cultivate KC and Kansas City Community Gardens

June 20, 2019 : Mary Ann Luther

H&R Block plants seeds of goodwill

Field leaders flocked to Kansas City, Missouri, this week for the preseason U.S. retail meeting with plenty of work to do. Like building raised garden beds and planting vegetables.

Of course, the 500 or so attendees are spending the bulk of their time learning, training and planning tax office strategies, which is the point of the weeklong event. But they still took Tuesday afternoon off to provide help in a hands-on way.

And that’s where the garden beds and vegetables came in.

H&R Block donated supplies and volunteered with two nonprofits that grow fresh produce for hungry families in the area:

  • Kansas City Community Gardens, an organization that empowers and inspires low-income households, community groups and schools in the Kansas City metropolitan area to grow their own vegetables and fruit. At 10 community gardens across the city, H&R Block volunteers donated wheelbarrows; assembled raised garden beds, then filled them with dirt; planted tomatoes, sweet potatoes and blackberry bushes; cleaned up the landscape; mowed yards; and more.
  • Cultivate KC, which includes three urban farms. H&R Block volunteers helped prepare the soil for planting future crops, plus planted and performed chores.

“These give-back events are something we’re incorporating into all of our U.S. retail get-togethers because there is truly strength in our numbers and we can make such an amazing impact on our communities in just one afternoon,” said Karen Orosco, senior vice president of H&R Block’s retail business.

Tomato tally

By the end of the project, H&R Block had donated hundreds of work-hours and more than $23,000 in tools and materials. This included:

  • 86 raised garden beds
  • 91 cubic yards of soil
  • 80 shovels
  • Multiple wheelbarrows
  • Assorted rakes, nails, screws, hammers, tarps, gloves, levels, and wire spool
  • Miscellaneous plant supplies

“It’s fantastic to have had these volunteers out here,” said Dan Krull, farm manager at Cultivate KC. “We rely on volunteers and when a huge group like this comes out, it takes what would have been hundreds of hours of work and boils it down to just one day to really transform the farm. I love seeing the before and after of just how much work they can do.”

Krull’s sentiment was echoed by Ben Sharda, Community Gardens executive director for Kansas City, Missouri, who added, “It’s very cool to have a local presence from a national company like H&R Block that’s always been so supportive of Kansas City. Having that kind of energy behind a project like this is so great.”

A history of volunteering beyond Kansas City

Volunteering as a group during a national H&R Block meeting was rewarding, but not the first such effort. Previously, associates and franchisees banded together during other major meetings to:

  • Spruce up a school in Phoenix. Last September, about 450 H&R Block leaders and managers from across the country gave Longview Elementary, the oldest school in the Osborn school district, a much-needed face-lift. Toiling away in over 100-degree heat for more than three hours, H&R Block volunteers hammered, nailed, sanded, dug, power washed, painted and more. The result? More vibrant, inviting buildings, classrooms, lounges, walls and gardens for students, teachers, staff and visitors to enjoy.
  • Provide necessities for those in need in and around Nashville, Tenn. Many of the 2,000-plus franchisees attending a large H&R Block fall convention last October took time out from meetings to pack more than 700 bags of groceries for Gallatin CARES, which runs a food pantry and thrift store; help out at Nashville Rescue Mission, which provides about 800 men, women and children each day with meals, shelter and more; put together more than 2,000 toiletry kits for area youth involved with Boys and Girls Club of Greater Nashville; and gather thousands of gloves and hand warmers for homeless veterans served by Operation Stand Down Tennessee.

And as always, associates and franchisees complete hundreds of smaller projects year-round in communities where they serve, as an integral part of H&R Block’s purpose to help in communities everywhere.

Said Jarred Hawkins, district general manager in training, who volunteered in Kansas City:

“If you value community, you want to be a part of your community – H&R Block really shows that. To be a part of a company that completely backs what your values are … it’s a game changer.”

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Mary Ann Luther

Mary Ann Luther

Contributor

How taxes affect everyday life is one of Mary Ann Luther’s favorite subjects. But medicine, insurance, engineering and education are right up there. She’s covered them all as a writer and/or editor for The Daily Oklahoman, Oklahoma TODAY magazine, GEICO and The Catholic University of America, and as a freelancer for many more. Luther earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism from University of Missouri-Columbia. Go, Tigers!

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