When Anthony M. Watson Jr., engineering field technician at DTE’s Trombly Service Center, saw a news story about a local trucking company collecting donations for the people of Ukraine, he knew he wanted to help.

Anthony Watson, man, wearing a DTE blue shirt standing in the donation site

Anthony M. Watson Jr. at the Hamtramck collection site

A Hamtramck logistics company transitioned their warehouse into a collection site in early March and have since received an outpouring number of donations. But when Anthony reached out, he learned they were still missing an important piece of their puzzle that would be critical in helping their donations reach the people of Ukraine. “We need a lot of boxes and packing tape,” they said, and Anthony got to work.

He went back to his colleagues at Trombly Service Center that following Monday and asked if they could reserve their boxes they would otherwise recycle. He then went over to the Caniff, Warren, Allen Road and Western Wayne Service Centers to see if they could reserve their boxes too. After work, he went to the service centers and broke down the boxes for several hours and then packed what he could in the DTE van to take to the donation site. He and his colleague, Tameka Massengale, cable pulling rigger operator, made their first donation on Saturday, March 26.

“They said it was the best gift they got,” says Anthony. “They were so happy they were able to get boxes to pack all of the donations; running out of boxes had stopped their whole process!”

After realizing the need and seeing the appreciation for the first donation, Anthony didn’t want to stop there. He reached out to Detroit-based box plant, Michigan Box Company, to see if they would be interested in supporting the cause. “At first, I asked for 50-100 boxes, but they suggested about 500” says Anthony. He went to his supervisor and told them about the opportunity and was able to get three trucks to go to Michigan Box Company to pick up the donation.

two stacks of boxes with blue sticky notes on them that say DTE DONATE“When we got there, we were expecting around 500 like they said, but we ended up picking up about 750 boxes!” says Anthony. With the help of his colleagues, he delivered the donation to the collection site on Wednesday, March 30.

Anthony’s efforts continue as he gets more service centers on board. He says the managers have also been involved. “Some even went out and bought their own packing tape to donate. They just jumped in to help.” He and his colleagues made a third donation Saturday, April 2.

Something that drove Anthony to participate in this event was his experience as a child in Liberia. “Following the second Civil War in Liberia, Ukraine was one of the countries of the United Nations to send peacekeepers to Liberia,” he says. “I have first-hand knowledge of what they’re experiencing, and it’s something I can resonate with.”

“One of the most important lessons in life that you should know, is to remember to have an attitude of gratitude, of humility, understand where the gift comes from. Use what you have to help others. On your last day you can’t take it with you, but you can leave it here. You’ll never see a U-Haul behind a hearse.” – Denzel Washington