Yes, Virginia … there is a Santa! During the holiday season, and throughout the year, we have the wonderful opportunity to contribute to the well-being of our less fortunate neighbors. The unexpected reward is that we often benefit from helping others; a business may expect happier employees, improved team performance, and ultimately, satisfied customers, which generally translates into greater profits!
As you plan your holiday party, consider ways to celebrate with your employees that support your community. Below are a few inspiring ideas to help you plan.
HOME FOR THE HOLIDAYS!
Homes are the nucleus of holiday celebrations, but what happens when you don’t have a home? Sadly, many of our neighbors do not have a home. However, your business can change that … by building a home. Invite your staff to participate in a Group Build Day. Organizations like Habitat for Humanity of Northern Virginia rely on the generosity of many volunteers to construct affordable homes in our community. No experience is necessary. This holiday gift is not just a place to live, but also the foundation for a better life!
MAKING SPIRITS BRIGHT!
For many people, the holiday season is a happy time; however, for some people, especially the elderly, the holidays can be a dispiriting time. For a myriad of reasons, December is a difficult time. Your business can change that by engaging with senior residents at an assisted living home. Give the gift of time to older neighbors in our community – talk current news, play cards, read books, sing holiday carols or listen to their stories; it will dramatically improve their spirits (and yours, too)!
EAT, DRINK AND BE MERRY!
I don’t know about you, but I gain a full five pounds between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day; each day is a new opportunity to celebrate with delicious food and drinks. But many of our neighbors are challenged to afford the basic staples, let alone turkey, stuffing and pies. Your business can change that by collecting non-perishable foods and grocery store gift cards. Additionally, your employees can volunteer at a local health center to educate families on nutritious eating and healthy yet affordable shopping habits. To learn more contact the Junior League of Northern Virginia and their Kids in the Kitchen partnership with Health Works.
BABY, IT’S COLD OUTSIDE!
‘Tis the season to bundle up with warm coats, hats and gloves; however, many of our neighbors do not have these essential items to keep them warm. Your business can change that by conducting a coat drive. Ask employees to bring new and gently worn coats, hats and gloves to the holiday party. Partner with a dry cleaner before donating the items to a local shelter. Your generous gift is truly a warm holiday wish!
ALL I WANT FOR CHRISTMAS …
From a child’s perspective, Christmas is a time for toys, creating long wish lists, and waiting for Santa’s arrival. Unfortunately, not all children receive toys on Christmas morning. Your company can change that by collecting new, unopened toys at the holiday party and donating them to a local shelter. A better idea is to turn your event into a team-building opportunity by assembling new bikes, tricycles and scooters. Employee engagement goes hand-in-hand with community engagement!
JOY TO THE WORLD
Communities are about people, but I’d be remiss if I neglected pets, our constant companions who need our love and attention. Sadly, many pets do not have a home, and local rescue centers are overwhelmed with need. Your company can change that by adopting pets, collecting food and supplies at the holiday party, or volunteering service hours to care for the animals in lieu of the party. Contact the Washington Humane Society to get involved and don’t be surprised if these animals bring unexpected joy to your world!
If these community engagement ideas have motivated you to rethink your holiday party plans, then I encourage you to do three things:
RESEARCH COMMUNITY GIVING OPTIONS AND
IDENTIFY ORGANIZATIONS THAT ALIGN WITH
YOUR BUSINESS’ MISSION AND VALUES;
SURVEY YOUR EMPLOYEES AND LISTEN
TO THEIR RESPONSES TO GAIN THEIR
PARTICIPATION AND ACHIEVE BEST RESULTS;
REMEMBER THAT THE BEST GIFTS ARE NOT
ALWAYS PURCHASED, BUT RATHER, GIVEN
FROM THE HEART. THE GIFTS OF TIME AND
TALENT ARE JUST AS VALUABLE AS FINANCIAL
This list of community engagement opportunities is not exhaustive, but the message is clear: whatever the need, your company can change that!