The Candy Cane Team and staff from a local school
Imagine for a moment a company holiday party that wasn’t focused exclusively on food, drinks, and loud Christmas sweaters, but instead had a deeper purpose. A party where the company’s core values were not left at the door step but were integrated into the party itself. Where the meaning and the true Spirit of Christmas were center stage. And instead of an event that most people dreaded, it was a party that employees looked forward to because they knew lives would be transformed – theirs and others.
Now that sounds like a company Christmas party worth attending. So the question is – what might such a party look like?
Well, I can tell you because this past Friday I had the opportunity, as a guest, to attend one. It was the Flexware Innovations (Indianapolis, IN) annual Giving Challenge Christmas party. And it was the most fun and deeply touching company Christmas party I’ve ever attended. It had all the traditional ingredients for a great party – an excellent meal, gracious and talented people, but with an added bonus – a larger purpose.
So here’s how this party worked. The company was divided into 6 teams of 5 or 6 employees plus one non-profit leader (there were six local organizations from the Indianapolis area represented, and I was fortunate to be on the Candy Cane team). We started the day sitting with our teams enjoying an incredible lunch at a fabulous restaurant during with we heard a brief overview of each non profit organization by their leader.
Then the fun began.
Each team was given $1000 in cash with the mission to give it away to anyone who would be blessed by a gift before 4:00 that day. There were no rules just a couple of suggestions – we were encouraged to make a gift in person and to an individual or family who would be especially blessed by it. From there each team had to identify potential opportunities (that’s where the non profit leaders came into play), develop a game plan to meet those needs and then make it happen. Each team was provided a small charter bus with a driver to get us where we needed to go.
Then over the next 3 or so hours $6000 was distributed as cash or purchased gifts to dozens of people, some in deep need, others simply to bless. For example our team helped a local middle school class complete it’s shopping list of items for a local family of 10 they adopted for this Christmas season. We visited a grocery store in the city and bought the groceries of two families (which was very fun). Finally, we were able to help a single mom who wanted to take her kids to visit family out of state for Christmas but didn’t have the resources to do it.
With each gift two things happened – those who received these gifts were blessed (maybe in ways we’ll never see), and those who distributed these gifts (Flexware employees) saw the power of generosity and the difference it can make in the lives of others.
For me personally, after the past fast and furious 6 months at SpringHill, this was the perfect way to end my work year, to see core values lived out, to be with people making a difference, to see a single mom cry with incredible joy to an answered prayer, to be reminded that God most often choses to help people through other people and to be used by God in this way is the greatest blessing of all.
Over the years, it seems, the holiday season has become the shopping season with Black Friday and Cyber Monday matching Thanksgiving for our attention. But recently there has been a movement to bring our collective attention back to the holidays and more importantly to the spirit of season – thanksgiving, celebration and especially giving.
Following the shopping feast that is Thanksgiving weekend, Tuesday has officially become Giving Tuesday. It’s a day set aside for people around the world to give back, to contribute to those people and not-for-profit organizations that exist to serve others and better the world. Giving Tuesday builds on and expands the Christmas tradition of giving gifts to friends and family by encouraging us to give gifts which benefit people we may not know.
Now if you’re convinced that Giving Tuesday represents the right focus of our holiday season let me encourage you to donate to your favorite not-for-profit or ministry. If you’re not sure where you should give let me give you two places your gift will benefit kids. First, is the ministry I work for – SpringHill (click here) and the second, the Christian Camp and Conference Association’s Corner of the Fields camper scholarship fund (click here). By supporting organizations that work with kids you’re helping to build their future and the future of our world.
So please consider expanding the Thanksgiving weekend one more day beyond Cyber Monday and make Giving Tuesday a new tradition in your family.