Lending a Helping Hand is the Heart and Soul of AFR Furniture Rental
Charity is an obligation, not an option, according to Jerry Hellmann, co-CEO of AFR Furniture Rental, a national furniture rental company that provides furnishings for homes, offices, special events and trade shows, while also making corporate social responsibility a top company-wide initiative.
“Working charitably in our communities and within our industry is a part of the woven tapestry that is AFR Furniture Rental,” Hellmann says. “It’s not just words – it’s action.”
Exemplifying the company’s dedication to giving back to those in need in the communities it serves, Together We Can is AFR’s robust CSR program providing employees with myriad opportunities to participate in a wide range of local and regional charitable initiatives at each of the company’s 23 locations.
Volunteerism activities have ranged from helping families in need, pitching in at animal shelters, organizing charity walks, participating in toy and food drives, packing groceries at local food banks, and helping to rebuild homes after natural disasters, including major hurricanes.
“AFR has always given back to the community, as our owners have always been generous and philanthropic in nature,” explains Tricia Schmitt, chief revenue officer of AFR Furniture Rental.
She continues, “Whether it’s helping at a dog shelter, serving meals at the local Ronald McDonald House, putting together a team for a breast cancer walk or troop support, AFR people have ties to all different kinds of causes that are heart strings for them.”
The company has also partnered with organizations at the local and national level including St. Bernard’s Project, Event Pros Take Action and Friends of Rockaway, to change the lives of people stricken by Hurricanes Katrina and Sandy by helping them to rebuild and get back in their homes.
According to Schmitt, AFR’s hurricane relief efforts began progressively by collecting donations; adding a large financial donation to it in lieu of client Christmas gifts; and finally, making donations of money, furnishings, time, labor and an on-site team to help rebuild several houses.
“Each year for six or seven years we expanded our efforts,” Schmitt says. “Our last year in New Orleans, we were able to help build, complete and furnish two homes working with SBP and EPTA. We also did the same in Rockaway for a few years.”
Choosing which organizations to support and which volunteer activities to engage in also comes down to group consensus, with employees encouraged to bring their ideas forward and ask for company support.
“Our teams at each location make suggestions for what is needed most in their communities at any given time,” Schmitt says. “They love being hands-on, and we are out in the trenches and on the front lines. There is always something to do for hands willing to help.”
Fighting child hunger in the U.S. has become AFR’s most recent CSR focus in the last couple of years, with the company launching a national campaign consisting of donating food and resources in 14 cities across the country.
Although the service-oriented company hasn’t had the opportunity to carry out any charitable activities at any of the trade shows it works with yet, AFR actively supports the SEARCH Foundation and the EDPA Foundation, which are both dedicated to helping industry professionals and their families in times of crisis. The company is also amenable to suggestions of where it can help in creating impactful fundraising events in the future.
“As humans, we are at our very best when we are helping one another and showing compassion – life is just better when you are helping someone or involved in something that is bigger than self,” Schmitt says. “It’s one of the things that I love most about AFR – we love helping others – and I’m so grateful to work for a company that instills that in every employee that works for them.”