For some reason “J” is turning out to be a tough letter to organize around. I’m not sure why. So I’ll ask for your help. Maybe we can rewrite this together with your input and suggestions. Here’s what I have been thinking about.
On a recent business trip to a small factory in the Mid-West United States, I was talking to one of the business leaders. I commented on the chocolate brownies sitting on a table near the entrance to the facility. He smiled and said “Every month, the folks here have a bake sale. They bring in homemade baked goods and sell them. All of the money is pooled and we donate it to a local children’s charity.”
I marveled at the simplicity of the concept and the generosity of spirit. I also marveled at the fact that nobody else in the global high-tech company had any idea that it was going on! Just a quiet gesture of selflessness in an all-to-often greedy world.
A couple of years ago I was invited to an event planned at a Southern California facility. I was told that I would be an honored guest…and that for the privilege, I was “expected” to make a financial pledge to finding a cure for cancer. I made the pledge and the donation, with pleasure. It turned out to be my first “Walk for the Cure”. Participants strolled around a track at their leisure, sometimes alone, sometimes with others. All of us worked for the same company and all of us had lost someone we loved to cancer. Factory workers next to C-suite inhabitants. HR next to engineering. Senior citizens (me) next to grandchildren walking and in strollers. There was food for sale. There were buttons and banners. Most important, there was a sense that we had joined together to make a small difference, where we could.
Around the end-of-year holidays in the USA, we have something called Toys-for-Tots. It’s a nationwide effort organized by the United States Marine Corps to collect toys for kids who might not otherwise have a moment’s relief from the hardship their families were experiencing. Large cardboard containers are placed in the lobbies of offices around the country. People who are so inclined can bring new, unwrapped toys/games/sports gear and deposit it without fanfare. The Marines take care of the rest. Other groups do similar things. The spirit carries us far.
Some companies I know have large, corporate foundations to which they donate a percentage of their profits and support major causes for good. I applaud those foundations. But even if our organizations cannot undertake corporate actions at that level, we as individuals can join together and make a difference. I have offered a few modest examples. Tell us yours!