Following Thanksgiving, there’s Black Friday, Small Business Saturday and Cyber Monday. Those are all days dedicated to consuming. But, today is Giving Tuesday, which is about giving back to those in need. Meeting professionals have long incorporated charitable donations into events.
During a year marked by natural disasters across the country from wild fires in California to hurricanes in Texas, Florida and Puerto Rico, more families than ever before are in need of warm coats for their bodies, food for their rumbling tummies and gifts to put under their trees.
Here are some creative ways the hospitality industry is incorporating giving in meetings:
The temperature has already begun to drop in many parts of the country, but an alarming number of people cannot afford a suitable coat to keep them warm and healthy this winter, leaving them susceptible to illness in the frigid elements. Dream Hotel Group renewed its partnership with New York Cares, which collects and distributes jackets to those in need. Across the brand—Dream Hotels, Time Hotels, Night Hotels, The Chatwal and Unscripted Hotels—the company has pledged to help the philanthropy reach its goal of collecting 125,000 winter coats this year.
“Charity starts at home,” says Dream Hotel Group CEO Jay Stein. “As a New York-based business, we decided to focus our charitable giving efforts on helping fellow New Yorkers in need this holiday season.”
In addition to offering guests the opportunity to donate, Dream Hotel Group has committed to giving the organization one winter coat for every room booked on Giving Tuesday. Additionally, guests can wind down with a “coattail” at the hotel lounges. By showing proof of donation to New York Cares, thirsty patrons will receive a complimentary cocktail with each drink purchased until New Year’s Day. The hotel chain is also encouraging its corporate office and global teams to match coat drive donations through the end of 2017.
Burlington Coat Factory, ABC’s “Good Morning America” and the non-profit Delivering Good have once again joined forces for the 11th annual Warm Coats and Warm Hearts Coat Drive. Groups can arrange a special outing to any Burlington location to drop off jackets as a united front, or wake up at the crack of dawn to visit the “GMA” studio in Times Square and be part of the live audience. In its first 10 years, this project has collected more than 1.8 million coats.
Hotels and CVBs nationwide annually collect new, unwrapped toys on behalf of Toys for Tots. For example, people visiting the California Welcome Center Buena Park can drop off contributions. Some hotels, such as Walnut Creek Marriott, are not only collecting presents, but also donating a portion of money from each booked room to the non-profit. Interested meeting professionals can register their event with the organization to host a drive of their own at a conference.
The hospitality and tourism industries have played a vital role in the success of Toys for Tots for several decades. Walt Disney and his animators designed the charity’s train logo in 1948. The House of Mouse remains involved with the annual toy drive to this very day.
For those of us who are fortunate, the holiday season is a time for overeating at parties. Sadly, many Americans cannot afford to stock their pantries and fridges or put food on their tables. Meeting professionals can consider synching up with a local food pantry to collect non-perishable items. Or, as a charitable breakout activity, you can arrange for meeting-goers to serve a meal at a nearby soup kitchen and experience the purpose of giving firsthand.