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Missouri Gaming Commission challenges other state agencies to wear jeans, give back

The Missouri Gaming Commission has issued a challenge for other state agencies: Wear blue jeans and give back.

For more than five years, the gaming commission has allowed staff members to make a $1 donation in exchange for the privilege of wearing jeans on Thursdays and/or Fridays. Money goes to The Food Bank for Central & Northeast Missouri’s Buddy Pack program.

LeAnn McCarthy, public information coordinator for the department, said the program has had a number of benefits. Since it began, MGC employees have raised $18,699—the equivalent of providing Buddy Packs to more than 100 children every single weekend during the school year.
It’s also created a better work environment.

“Everybody likes to wear jeans, so that’s a benefit, and the fact we’re helping provide Buddy Packs to children who need food over weekends and breaks, that’s an added benefit,” she said.
The MGC made its first contribution in 2013 after staff collectively decided which charitable program they wanted to support.

Executive Director Bill Seibert was instrumental in the effort, McCarthy said.

“It was his idea to help children in school, and from there the idea became to help those children who needed food,” she said.

The Buddy Pack Program distributes food on Fridays to children who rely on free or reduced-price lunch at school. At elementary schools, kid-friendly entrees, fruit cups, cereal with shelf-stable milk and nutritional bars are sent home in discreet bags that are tucked inside students’
backpacks. The Food Bank serves 7,500 children weekly through the Buddy Pack Program at 167 schools.

The Missouri Gaming Commission’s donation specifically benefits children at schools located in counties in which employees reside.

The department feels so strongly about supporting the program that it began a second campaign in 2016. Employees are challenged to decorate their offices and cubical areas for Christmas, then they may donate $1 to vote on their favorite displays.

“It’s popular. People like to participate, and our winners really went over the top with decorations,” McCarthy said, adding that the holiday effort raises about $400 a year.

The gaming commission has since challenged other state agencies to start a similar type of charitable campaign, McCarthy said, adding that it benefits not only the community and state but also staff members.

“Everybody feels good about the effort and the amount of money we’ve given,” she said. “It’s substantial.”