SAPPHIRE NOW Begins by Giving Back

May 14, 2013 by Susan Galer

Volunteers at SAPPHIRE NOW (Photo: SAP)

SAPPHIRE NOW, SAP’s largest global customer event, is officially underway at the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando Florida but the excitement actually began yesterday. That’s when approximately 1,000 volunteers came together at the Hilton Orlando, united for five hours by a mission to feed hungry children. Their objective was to mix and bag 285,000 nutritious meals for distribution to orphans in Sierra Leone who might otherwise eat one meal a day or even every other day. SAP sponsored the Food for Orphans project with the National Basketball Association, along with partners Datum, Deloitte Consulting, Feudenberg IT, Miracle Software Systems, and Vistex.

During an afternoon that included visits from basketball legends Gary Payton and Avery Johnson, dedicated teams of volunteers worked quickly and efficiently to package soy, rice, dried vegetables, and chicken bouillon enriched with vitamins and minerals into meals for approximately 500 children without parents. Some live in orphanages, others have been displaced with other relatives, and many are homeless. According to Food for Orphans founder and president, Gary VanDyke, each easy-to-cook and serve one-step meal cost just 25 cents, and is only the beginning of what’s possible.

“In the United States alone, we waste 40 percent of the food grown at the farm, truck, warehouse, and store level, as well as in homes, restaurants, and schools. If we could reduce the amount wasted and spend that money to feed children in need, we could feed every orphan around the world,” said VanDyke.

SAP is the only major corporate sponsor of the Colorado-based Food for Orphans organization which conducts 25 to 50 food-packing events per year. VanDyke aims to attract other corporations to a cause he sees as both worthy and urgent.

“I’ve seen children literally eating the dirt on the ground to get something in their stomach. We made a decision to do something to help these kids. If we don’t help them, there’s a good chance some of these children will die of malnutrition. It breaks my heart and I’m not going to quit until we make sure they all get fed,” said VanDyke. He adds that these particular children are aware and excited about the event, knowing that the food packed in Florida will fill a forty foot ocean-going container that will bring them meals for an entire year.

Next page: Hands-on activity bonds teams together

Hands-on activity bonds teams together

There was a busy hum of energy throughout the room as enthusiastic volunteers gathered around tables in assembly line fashion to pour, measure, and package up the ingredients of each meal. Shouts of triumph periodically rose above the din every time another box was filled. The crowd was representative of all conference attendees including customers and their customers, partners and their clients, industry analysts, the media, university students, and SAP employees. For example, the Deloitte table included Larry Wyatt, whose company, Live Marketing is their client. “It’s one thing to donate money and that’s always helpful. But it feels very satisfying to physically package up the food knowing that it’s going to feed orphans in need,” said Wyatt.

Volunteers packing 285,000 meals to feed orphans in Sierra Leone (Photo: SAP)

Volunteers packing 285,000 meals to feed orphans in Sierra Leone (Photo: SAP)

Business and life run better is more than just a slogan

In many ways, the Food for Orphans project was a fitting opener to this year’s conference, given that its theme is focused on how SAP helps business and life run better. With its long-time commitment to sustainability, SAP’s technology innovations have a far-reaching impact on business and life. Consider these facts:

  • SAP customers distribute more than 78% of the world’s food.
  • SAP provides solutions to 58% of United Nations member governments to help improve citizen services.
  • SAP customers produce more than 82% of the world’s medical devices.
  • SAP customers distribute more than 76% of the world’s healthcare products.
  • SAP HANA powers the “Oncolyzer,” which can help doctors find the best therapies for 15 million of new cancer patients each year.
  • Product safety solutions from SAP touch $5 trillion of all manufactured goods.

Eradicating hunger, one meal at a time

An estimated 60 million orphan children go to bed hungry around the world. The food packed at SAPPHIRE NOW, along with all the meals that Food for Orphans distributes, is designed to help restore children’s health, strengthen their immune systems so they can fight off disease, reverse the starvation process, and improve their mental and physical alertness. When it comes to children’s health, every meal counts and this is one cause that’s worth fighting for.

Here’s the SAP TV video about the event:

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