Ramp Agent Bill Baracani, shown here at Love Field, has been working with the Salvation Army every year since 2001.
Good Timing: Tickets for Time
One day in 2001, Dallas (Love Field) Ramp Agent Bill Baracani received an unexpected invitation from a Coheart at Headquarters that turned out to be really meaningful: Did Bill want to join her in volunteering with the Salvation Army Angel Tree program?
Bill replied that he did. Since then, he has participated for more than 18 years, saving up vacation time every year to devote an entire month around the Christmas holiday. To date, he has volunteered around 4,000 hours to help the charity at its Christmas warehouse, sorting and grouping “Angel Tree” gifts donated to families who otherwise couldn’t afford to provide a Christmas experience for their children.
“Growing up, my family and I didn’t have a lot, but we never had to worry about meals or a bed to sleep in,” says Bill. “Most of the families I serve are at or below the poverty line and often struggle to buy food for their families and pay bills.” The Angel Tree program, he says, eases the hardship a little for those families so “parents don’t have to make the hard choice between the electric bill and a Christmas gift for their child.” He’s one of many shining examples of how the Servant’s Heart extends into the community.
Many charities rely on volunteers to stretch budgets and fulfill their missions, and Southwest Employees step up to meet the challenge.
To support Employees in their passion for their communities, Southwest encourages volunteering through a program called Tickets for Time. The Company tracks Employees’ volunteer hours and for which charities, and the Airline donates round trip tickets to those charities based on the hours accumulated.
“So if you put in two hours and somebody else puts in two hours with the same organization, they all accrue with the organization,” explains Senior Advisor Megan Lee. For every 40 hours logged, that organization receives a round trip ticket. “They can use that ticket for their mission purposes, for organizational travel, for a fundraiser—however they choose to use it.” A nonprofit organization can receive up to six round trip tickets every year. Since 2010, Employees have donated more than 1.5 million volunteer hours to charities, which Southwest has matched with more than $8.8 million in tickets.
According to retired Senior Vice President Culture & Communications Ginger Hardage, Tickets for Time emerged as “one of the ways that we were able to really make sure that we are listening to our People,” and channeling Southwest’s support to causes that mean the most to its Employees.
Tickets for Time, Megan explains, “allows us to say, ‘Okay, if you’re in, we’re in. If you’re willing to invest enough of your time and your sweat equity in this organization, then we’ll reward that by providing that ticket when you volunteer a certain number of hours.’”
“It was not only to support the nonprofit organization, but to line up and show that support behind our Employees and for the good work that they’re doing. We want to celebrate that as well.” Southwest also recognizes its People’s generosity with Winning Spirit, an award for extraordinary service.
“All those years ago, a Coheart extended a simple invitation to join her in service,” remembers Bill. “Giving and volunteering as a Southwest Employee is most definitely the gift that keeps on giving.”
“I feel fortunate to work for a Company that shares its love in this way to so many deserving organizations.”