Every community has its heroes

Published 12:00 pm Sunday, April 21, 2019

By Bobby Tingle

The Orange Leader


Communities like Orange tend to attract heroes who go above and beyond the call of duty, whether times are good or bad.

International Paper contributes its fair share of community heroes.  They, of course, are not alone. But when it is time to roll up your sleeves and get to work or open your wallet and contribute to the needs of others in the community the employees of the ‘paper mill’ are among the leaders.

International Paper hosted an “Egg-Stra Special Food Drive” for the Southeast Texas Food Bank in March of 2019 to raise money and food donations for our community for the Easter season.

“The Orange mill is very much a part of this community. It is our livelihood. If our community is successful we are successful, and I feel that it is our obligation to help those in need in our community. We work hard to find opportunities for all of our employees to have the chance to participate and give back. Not only do we expect this of our people but our company expects that of us,” said Ed Barr, Mill Manager.

This past Christmas, Salvation Army Board member Betty Harmon was overwhelmed by the community support for their Angel Tree program.  Harmon noted the steady stream of churches, plants, and local industry support year after year. She went on to claim to get much more this year than was asked for.

One such company, International Paper, was able to provide gifts for approximately 325 children through the Salvation Army Angel Tree Program in 2018. It was their first year to organize an Angel Tree at their plant, and the staff exceeded the original thought of providing for 25 Angels.

For several years, International Paper has provided volunteers at Special Angels Rodeo.  The rodeo provides a rodeo experience for the special needs community in the southeast Texas and southwest Louisiana area.  Participants can ride horses, tame a mechanical bucking bull, race through a barrel-racing course and rope a calf while in the saddle.

International Paper team participated in Shangri La’s 24th Annual Trash-Off.

Volunteers from the mill show up to park cars, shuttle participants to the arena, serve food and help with events.

Jody and Susan Bailey volunteer with other International Paper employees at Special Angels Rodeo.

“We find it very rewarding to volunteer for the Special Angels Rodeo.   We are so grateful to work for a company that participates in events like the Special Angels Rodeo.   International Paper (IP) truly cares about our community and we are so proud to be part of a great company,” said Bailey.

Blane Read is an IP employee who is passionate about volunteering at the Special Angels Rodeo.

International Paper team ready to serve at the Special Angels Rodeo.

“When I was young we spent a lot of time with our Aunt Deanie.  She was a special needs person. Even as a young boy I knew that she was always treated differently. She taught me that Special people are kind, loving people that would like to fit in. She taught me to speak to the kid in the wheelchair, help a blind person cross a street, make someone smile. We volunteer every chance we get so that we can make someone happy, lend a hand, and visit with Special People,” said Reed.

Mill employees are big contributors to United Way.  United Way contributes to the support of countless organizations and members of the community.  Employees were able to raise and contribute to the United Way of Orange County in 2018 a total of $203,202 through personal gifts and fundraisers.

Last year IP helped to provide live entertainment at a Bassmasters fishing tournament and a back to school event at Shangri La.

The Orange community can tip its hat to IP and the many others who give their time and talent throughout the year.