At the heart of most traditions are three things: people coming together, a celebration of what matters, and a sense of enjoyment. As a company, IP Services has gathered many traditions over its twenty-plus years. Two of the most important revolve around the holidays and community outreach.
YMCA Family Charity
In 2006, one of our own looked at the YMCA Giving Tree event (already a worthy cause) and asked, “How can we do more?” The YMCA was willing to work with us, and our annual YMCA Family Charity was born. Every year, the YMCA nominates two local families who are having a rough time, and we do our best to make their holiday season special.
The project begins every year with a wish list from each selected family. Then individual or groups of employees who want to participate sign up for one (or more) items on the list, which they buy and wrap for the family. Families tend toward bare necessities on their lists, so we always try to go above and beyond. We want to make their Christmas morning a fantastic one!
We don’t just rely on individual donations, though. We’ve gotten creative over the years to raise money for our community outreach events. Every summer during our company picnic, we host a silent auction. We used to solicit donation of auction items from local businesses, but we now auction off “theme baskets” made by our employees. Themes can be anything, from a “movie night” basket to a “beach party” basket. As someone who’s made a basket or two in my time, I can tell you it’s a lot of fun.
Another way we raise money is by snacking! One of our offices has a year-round snack shop where all proceeds go to charities like this one. Every candy bar or cracker pack someone eats throughout the year puts money toward helping others. And all these initiatives pay off: over the years we’ve been able to help twenty-one families have a merry Christmas.
Second Harvest Food Bank of Northwestern Pennsylvania
Our other big annual donation event began in 2008, when we first partnered with the Second Harvest Food Bank of Northwestern Pennsylvania to sponsor a Thanksgiving-season food drive. What started out as a simple idea has grown over the years into a high-stakes company competition. The best way we’ve found to increase participation to give is to tap into their competitive natures. We frequently split the company into different teams and challenge each team to donate the most money and food to win the contest.
In more recent years, we’ve been focused on donating money rather than food. We’ve had a lot of fun in the past piling up big barrels of donated cans and boxes, but we recognize that Second Harvest can make a dollar stretch further than we could. After all, a single dollar can provide five meals through the food bank. But that doesn’t mean we can’t have fun with it! We’ve seen a lot of creative fundraising ideas for our community outreach events over the past few years – from bake sales to buy-in crockpot tastings. As we keep the tradition going, I know new ideas will continue to emerge.
Circling back again to the idea of traditions, these two are an important part of our company legacy. They’re the best kind of traditions: the kind that let us come together as a group to do something worthwhile, and to have a lot of fun along the way. Year after year, we do everything in our power to keep these traditions alive, because we believe in making the world a better place, and this is how we show it.
If you or your organization are interested in making someone’s holiday season better, reach out to your local YMCA or food bank to see what opportunities are available!
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