This is Mazda Cares. In light of COVID-19, we’re sharing stories of how our Mazda family is coping with (and even combatting) the crisis. Tracing back to our Hiroshima roots, Mazda has a deep history of helping communities in times of need. Our aim is to share stories that highlight our belief that what matters most is one another — because through the power of humanity and community, we can overcome any challenge.
Every Thursday, Barry Brittingham, Manager, Network Development & Operations at Mazda North American Operations, runs a few errands. However, he’s not picking up groceries for his family: he’s collecting donations for local food pantries. By Saturday each week that food is not only distributed to Orange County families through his church’s food pantry, but also through other local organizations. Together this group is able to feed up to 75 families each week through the church’s pantry, as well as up to 100 military families from nearby Camp Pendleton, plus families in the neighboring city of Santa Ana.
This weekly ritual isn’t new. The church’s food pantry has been supporting the community at large for over 20 years — but Barry and the rest of the volunteers had to get creative when social distancing orders went into place due to COVID-19: The pantry’s typical grocery store-like setup that allowed families the dignity of selecting their items had to change quickly. Now, a system of carefully pre-packed bags placed in car trunks by face mask-wearing volunteers like Barry is keeping families fed.
“We can do a lot. Some people get caught up on, ‘I’m only one person, what can I do?’ But this has an impact and it furthers your sense of community.”
During the pandemic, Barry has also started driving a refrigerated food truck on Thursday afternoons in support of Unidos South OC, a local non-profit.
This isn’t Barry’s first foray into volunteerism. During his 25 years with Mazda, Barry has coached in many kid’s sports leagues as well as partnered with Second Harvest Food Bank. His family traveled to El Salvador to serve including help bringing running water to families in a small town. According to Barry, Mazda has allowed him to carve out this time and has supported his needs — from co-workers joining his volunteer efforts to being loaned a larger car when he needs more space for food or eager helpers.
Like Barry, Mazda has a history of helping communities in a time of need. “I think it aligns, and not by accident, either,” he says. “In the hiring and application process, we draw people who have the drive to help others.”