To make the most of each New Year I choose a theme that can be applied to the next twelve months. Last year was the “Year of Saying Yes,” but when December 31st rolled around I was struggling to figure out where my energies should be directed in 2016. On New Year’s Eve a former intern sent us a most heartfelt thank you note, expressing her appreciation for being given the chance and opportunity to work and learn with our company. Her thank you was so unexpected and sincere that it made my entire holiday.
On that very cold day after New Year, a young woman wearing just a sweater entered the office building elevator. When I asked her why she didn’t have one on, she explained that her job didn’t pay her enough to afford one. I then remembered that we had a coat in our office that someone had left and not claimed for over a year and we were planning to donate it to Goodwill. I asked the young woman if I could give her that coat. She gave me a huge hug, thanked me, and walked off warm in her new coat.
Thus began “The Year of Giving” It may not be as easy as just filling my car with coats to give out to unsuspecting strangers, but hopefully it will be just as satisfying. Here are some ways I plan to give; you may want to join me. I hope that you will share your ideas and personal “giving” experiences throughout the year with others.
• Give equipment: Our offices and homes are filled with older or unused printers, monitors and computers and everyone has old phones they no longer use. Organizations like Reconnect for computer equipment and HopeLine for cell phones repurpose your equipment to needy organizations and individuals. Every city has dozens of nonprofit groups that can benefit from these goods. We will be donating these items to Danbury VITA, a volunteer income tax assistance organization that assists in tax-prep for lower income individuals.
• Give clothing: Have a clothing drive in your office where everyone brings in their unused or gently used clothing and donate them to local agencies such as Goodwill or The Salvation Army. Gather your professional attire that you will no longer use this year and donate to Dress for Success. And ladies, the Cinderella Project is a great place to donate those old prom/ bridesmaid/ and formal dresses that you will not be using in the coming year or years.
• Give food: Sponsor a company food drive, with donations going to a charity or food pantry that everyone agrees on. Ask your business neighbors and associates to join in and really make a showing of it.
• Give books: Every local library has an annual drive. You can reach out to local homeless shelters, battered women’s shelters, and churches, and find out what books they need. Set up a day for the office staff to come together to help with the distribution or to bring in some book donations.
• Give together: Create on office “Workplace Giving Calendar”, with suggestions from staff about organizations to which you can donate non-cash items, in kind services, or cash on a monthly basis.
• Give your time: Create an Office Volunteer Day. Find great local volunteer events going on in your area at idealist.org or Volunteersquare.com.
• Give your energy (literally!): Kick off that New Year’s resolution with Charity Miles! A great way to stay on top of your resolution while giving back. Charity Miles is an app that you install on your phone. Just create an account, select the charity of your liking, and press start! The app will start tracking your activity and money earned. You can then spread the word, and get others to join or sponsor you.
• Give yourself and be a mentor this year: Whether it’s to a local student, a disadvantaged youth, or a striving employee or a college. Give the gift of your knowledge and experience. Check out Mentor.org for inspiring stories and reason why your simple gift of yourself can make an impact that last generations.