Season of giving

NEWPORT BEACH — Evan Snow's face was set in concentration as he tried to add a bag of rice to each cardboard box that slid past him on a conveyor belt. His arms barely reached over the top of the boxes, but luckily for Evan, 4, he had a solid slam dunk and a cheering team.

"Go! Go! Hurry!" cheered father Steve Snow, helping Evan. "Last one!"

The Snows, with 6-year-old Ben in a sideways baseball cap, were some of the 450 of PIMCO's Newport Beach employees and their families who volunteered their Saturday morning to fill up 5,000 boxes with more than 9,000 pounds of holiday food for Orange County residents in need.

"This is part of a lot of what PIMCO does," said CEO and Co-Chief Investment Officer Mohamed El-Erian, who is also the president of the PIMCO Foundation. "There's a real sense that part of who we are is about taking care of our community and taking care of those that are less fortunate that us."

PIMCO is an international investment management company that administers $1.117 trillion in assets for clients, including the majority of the Fortune 100 companies. The company has offices around the globe, including a Newport Beach location on Newport Center Drive.

The volunteers worked quickly and efficiently in the chilly morning to get boxes — stuffed with macaroni and cheese, cans of green beans and cranberry sauce, along with fresh apples and carrots — sealed and loaded into one of a half dozen trucks standing by to take the goods to mainly the Orange County Food Bank.

Looking around at the organized chaos, former CEO of PIMCO Bill Thompson said he was "blown away."

"I think it's fantastic. I'm really, really pleased," he said, adding that giving back is nothing new for the company. "I think PIMCO has always had a strong feeling of the community we live in and the need to give back."

Orange County Food Bank Director Mark Lowry, who was on hand at the event for the fourth year, said PIMCO is the single largest holiday event for the food bank.

Lowry said the food will go to families in need and distributed to agencies that work with the food bank.

"This absolutely means that 5,000 families that might not otherwise be able to share a holiday meal together will be able to," he said.

After the food donation during the company's holiday Christmas party, officials are expected to announce the five winners — Alzheimer's Assn., Autism Speaks, the Humane Society, St. Jude's Children's Research Hospital and the Wounded Warriors Project — of a $20,000 grant each from the foundation's annual "Employee Choice Grants," said spokesman Mark Porterfield.

This was the fourth event the PIMCO Foundation has put on since its creation in 2008. The event started with a donation of 1,000 boxes made possible by a $34,000 donation by employees and continued with another 1,000 the next year and 2,000 in 2010.

This year, employees gave $143,000 — surpassing their $125,000 goal — to buy the food for 5,000 boxes. Originally the foundation was looking to donate about 3,000 boxes, then 4,000 until El-Erian raised the stakes to 5,000.

"Our collective feeling was that there was such a huge willingness to help that why not go to 5,000," El-Erian said, adding later, "Already I've been asked 'why not do 10,000 [boxes] next year?' "

Twitter: @britneyjbarnes

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