Material Handling that Matters

Few things in life feel as good as putting in a little elbow grease, especially when it’s for a good cause. That’s one of several reasons why it was such a fun opportunity to be able to work with Matter, a St. Louis Park based charity last May and June. Matter is a nonprofit that supplies much-needed medical equipment to clinics in developing nations and helps people in need meet their basic nutrition needs. In their words, “Matter is a movement of people who believe they have the power to solve some of the world’s greatest challenges right in their own two hands. One of the biggest challenges we face today is the lack of access to health. All humankind, regardless of race, income, religion, or sex, can have the same access to a full and healthy life. It is only then that we can create a world where we all matter.”

One of their newer initiatives is to provide healthy, nutrient-dense foods to food insecure people lack the resources needed for sustained healthy eating. Their goal to provide healthy food for 4 million people within the next 3 years will be facilitated with the help of the Matter Box, a portable meal that contains a selection of food recommended by dietitians to fight obesity and diabetes. Matter Boxes don’t fall from trees, though; they’re packed by the Matter team and the volunteers who come to Matter to help increase access to healthy food.

Pallet Rack Work Stations

Matter Boxes are packed by volunteers standing at work stations, so having developed a relationship with the Matter organization, it seemed a perfect fit to donate materials from AK Material Handling Systems stock to make custom workbenches for the Matter distribution facility. Over the course of several months, AK’s Al Boston and Josh Smith coordinated the execution of the project with leaders of the Matter team. Once the upright frames were cut to size, the Give Back Crew converged on the Matter warehouse on May 25th to piece them together with cross beams and plywood to make fully functional workbenches. In the cool time-lapse footage below, you can see the final stages of the assembly process.



How to Make a Pallet Wall in 30 Seconds (sort of)

This is one of the first events we participated in, nailing pieces of wooden pallets on the wall of the Matter headquarters lobby to help add a rustic, contemporary look to it. The Matter team supplied the wood and Josh laid out and assembled the wood on the wall with a little help from his fellow Give Back Crew friends.


A Group Effort

On June 15th, AK hosted the MHEDA Midwest Regional Networking Summit. The night before the Summit, we joined dozens of MHEDA members to sort and pack medical supplies and Matter Boxes at the Matter headquarters. Much of the event’s activities took place on the workbenches that were assembled just a couple of weeks prior. Never ones to turn down an opportunity for friendly competition, we split into teams to see who could pack the most Matter Boxes in the allotted time. When the dust settled, it was announced that enough medical supplies and food had been sorted and packed to impact an estimated 19,000 lives.


Matter operates with the help of their staff and the many volunteers and partners that donate time, money and materials. You too can get involved with Matter and start changing lives in your community and around the world. Service learning opportunities range from medical supply sorting to hosting a food packing event and helping to end hunger in your local community. Visit to learn more, seek opportunities to volunteer, donate, or become a partner.