Volunteer work that pays: McDonald’s works with local nonprofits

Sierra Vista's Ricky Martinez (1) passes to a teammate during the championship game at the Boys and Girls Club in Canyon Country on March 9, 2017. Employees of McDonald’s on Soledad Canyon Rd. will help out at the club and at three other local nonprofits while the restaurant is closed for renovations starting Monday. Katharine Lotze/The Signal
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“Paid volunteers” may seem a contradiction in terms, but not for some local McDonald’s employees and four local non-profit organizations.

The hamburger outlet on Soledad Canyon Road in Canyon Country at the corner of Luther Dr. will close tomorrow night at 10 p.m. for a gut renovation slated to take about six weeks.

If all goes according to plan, drive-through service will resume on June 15 and walk-in service on June 26. Other local McDonald’s stayed open during renovations because they didn’t require as much work.

“Once you take the kitchen out, that’s the engine, and closing is the only option,” said Jay Schutz, owner/operator the Soledad Canyon McDonald’s and the one at 26940 Sierra Highway at Via Princessa, a seven-minute drive away.

The Soledad Canyon McDonald’s is 50 years old, and will be renovated down to its exterior walls. The company numbers its more than 36,000 restaurants worldwide sequentially by their opening date. The Soledad Canyon store is #1,533, while the McDonald’s on Carl Boyer Drive is #30,232.

Of the Soledad Canyon outlet’s 60 employees, 20 will work at the Via Princessa store to help with the anticipated increase in business there, Schutz said.

Another 20 or so have indicated that they’re happy to take the six weeks off without pay to focus on such things as second jobs and school deadlines. Those employees also said they’d be willing to pick up shifts if needed.

Schutz is using the closing to highlight good works being done by local non-profits and help his remaining 20 employees at the same time.

Jay’s brothers Mark and David own four McDonald’s in the SCV, and other owner/operators own four other local outlets.

He contacted SCV Food Pantry, Boys and Girls Club of SCV, Bridge to Home (which provides services to the homeless), and the SCV Senior Center.

McDonald’s will pay those employees their regular hourly rate for time they spend volunteering with any of the four while the renovations are taking place. Hence “paid volunteers.”

“We have sign-up sheets this weekend in both restaurants with information about what kinds of volunteer work need to be done,” Schutz said. One example is that high school and college students who work at McDonald’s can mentor kids at the Boys and Girls Club and help them with homework.

“A lot of kids who work for us are really good students, so it’s a shoo-in for them to help younger students at the Boys and Girls Club,” said Schutz, who started at McDonald’s in 1979 working for his father Anton, who bought the Canyon Country restaurant in 1970. Anton retired last year at age 87.

Another opportunity to serve is the 25th annual Letter Carriers Food Drive on May 13. Volunteers will be needed to help load collected food from post offices on Creekside and The Old Road, said Michael Moore, a Food Pantry board member. Later that day and in the following weeks, more help will be needed to sort the items by expiration date and then into packages ready for distribution.

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