As the weather gets colder, the holiday spirit grows warmer and professionals in the tradeshow industry take the time to give back to their communities and help those in need. Starting around Thanksgiving and lasting well into the New Year, companies in the face-to-face business support their fellow man by feeding, clothing and even teaching them.
In November, the Los Angeles Convention Center (LACC) distributed over 2,000 Thanksgiving turkeys to families in need. Butterball and Aramark, the exclusive food service and catering partners at the LACC, donated the turkeys, which were handed out by convention center volunteers.
“We are here to serve our community, and we aim to support it any way we can, especially during these times of economic hardship,” said Pouria Abbassi, CEO and general manager of the LACC.
A highlighted attraction of the event was Turkey Talk-Link expert Nicole Johnson, who held cooking demonstrations and answered questions about cooking the perfect Thanksgiving turkey.
However, LACC was not the only organization to help feed the hungry during the holiday season. The Tradeshow Network Marketing Group (TNMG), a full-service tradeshow display company based in Chicago, Ill., participated in the Feed My Starving Children (FMSC) packing event. The employees of TNMG spent a whole day making meals to feed hungry children all over the world.
Feed My Starving Children is a nonprofit organization that delivers meals to starving children all over the world. The meals, which cost only 24 cents each, are comprised of rice, soy, vegetables, a vegetable-based chicken flavoring, as well as a vitamin and mineral mix. To date, FMSC has sent over 10 million meals to the famine-affects regions of East Africa.
The volunteers at TNMG helped pack 109 boxes of food, which created 23,544 meals – enough to feed 65 children for a year.
“The day is an awesome feeling of doing something good for kids,” said Karin Roberts of TNMG. “More importantly we need to get the word out about the wonderful organization and the work that they do.”
But giving back to the community does not necessarily mean doling out food to those who need it. Others in the tradeshow industry, such as GES, took a different approach to the holiday spirit this year.
GES helped out the John F. Miller School for Special Education, located in Las Vegas, Nev., as its holiday project. The School helps facilitate education for non-ambulatory and medically fragile students. About 75 percent of these children have a visual impairment and 80 percent have seizure disorders.
A team of 40 employees from GES transformed the school’s multi-purpose room into a winter wonderland.
And as another part of the project, GES filmed a video of the transformation, which was posted to their blog. Each time the video is viewed, GES makes a donation toward iPads and apps for the John F. Miller School.
“The GES team is honored to support the John F. Miller School for Special Education by donating 10 iPads and 10, $50 iTunes cards on behalf of our clients,” said Steve Moster, president of GES. “Research continues to show the positive impact iPads are having for those with special needs and we look forward to donating additional iPads and iTunes cards as video views continue through the end of December.”
Another tradeshow-based organization that gave back this year was Exhibit 4 Smiles. Founded by Costas Varkarotas, Exhibit 4 Smiles helps match terminally-ill children with sponsors by establishing relationships through the Exhibit Designers and Producers Association (EDPA).
Volunteers for the organization then purchase, wrap and tag each gift to be donated.
Although the program runs all year, this December, Exhibit 4 Smiles went above and beyond to help children have a good holiday season. Varkarotas, along with the Exhibit 4 Smiles team, donated toys and gifts, as well as a $1,000 check to patients at the Comprehensive Cancer Center of Nevada’s pediatric oncology office.
“We recognized a year ago that providing a little smile to these children who deal with these life threatening diseases makes a huge difference,” said Varkarotas. “So we set out on a mission to help them.”
Even IMEX America got into the philanthropic holiday spirit. Following the October 2011 debut of its new tradeshow, IMEX America, along with The Estoril Congress Center of Portugal, made a $6,000 donation to Opportunity Village and The Shade Tree Shelter.
Both non-profit organizations, which are based in Las Vegas, Nev., were selected to benefit from several CSR initiatives prior to IMEX America in October. Organizers used the tradeshow to help promote and raise awareness of both charities among the meeting industry professionals from all over the world. Sponsorship from the Estoril Congress Center also helped in generating the donation.
“This will make a huge difference in supporting our activities,” said Rachel Allen, sales account executive for Opportunity Village. “Wewill be able to purchase supplies for our Art Enrichment Program where the special individuals that we serve can do what they love: creating art.”
Opportunity Village, which employs over 1,600 people with intellectual disabilities, received $2,500, and the Shade Tree Shelter, which provides over 80,000 nights of shelter to abused women and children, received $3,500.
“Especially in today’s challenging economic times, it is so important that we come together as business people around the world to assist those in need,” said
Carina Bauer, CEO of the IMEX Group. “Opportunity Village and The Shade Tree do amazing work and we, along with Estoril, are thrilled to be able to lend a helping hand through education, access, greater awareness and through donation.”