Since the early days of Red Sky, we've made a focused effort to give back to the community which has supported our agency and helped us grow. Community-oriented is one of our guiding values. We believe that our work is better and our minds are sharper because of the experiences we have, connections we make, insights we gain and community opportunities we embrace outside the office.
In years past we crowd-sourced our end-of-year giving, allowing each team member to submit philanthropic opportunities for the agency to support. This time around, we took a cash-mob-give-forward approach. Each Red Skyer received $100 and a half-day to give their time, energy and dollars to a cause of their choice.
Here's a roundup of where they went...
For Red Sky's Give Back day, I partnered with my 5 year old daughter to begin introducing her to the concept of helping others. We knew we wanted to give to children and selected the City Light Home for Women and Children where there were many children who were not yet being sponsored for Christmas and possibly would not receive any gifts at all. The ages ranged from infant to teenager and we shopped to find gifts for as many boys & girls as possible with the funds that Red Sky generously gave us to spend and money of our own. Armed with our big bag of gifts, we went to the shelter where my daughter insisted on showing the staff every item that she had selected. They were very gracious and grateful and made my daughter's experience rewarding and impactful. My hope is that she is on her way to knowing that its sometimes nicer to give than to receive.
For Red Sky's Day of Giving, I allowed my kids to choose which charities we would support. They looked at options and chose to sponsor two children in the City Light program and provide cat food for the Humane Society.
The $100 from Red Sky was added to the money they already had for making someone else's Christmas special. Seeing them have such fun shopping for someone else and taking in to consideration their budget and what the kids would like the most was incredibly fun and I know that they will continue to remember the importance of supporting those in our community that have fallen on hard times.
My sister is a pediatric nurse at the Seattle Children’s Hospital, and every once in a while she shares bits and pieces of stories from her long days at work. The families she works with absolutely amaze me. Some stories are encouraging and uplifting and some make me wonder how the families are able to make it through such tough times and unthinkable circumstances. I am so amazed by the courage and strength that those little boys and girls have to fight for another day of life. This is why I chose to donate infant and teenage toys to the St. Luke’s Children’s Hospital. I would do anything to put a smile on those children’s faces, and hopefully by bringing a few Christmas presents I will be able to do that. Thank you so much to Red Sky and their passion to give back to the community. They gave me the motivation to find where my passion is and to think about someone else in this season of giving.
The charity I chose to donate my $100 to was Wagon Tales. They are a great non-profit that provides much-needed toys, clothes and household items to children and families staying at St Luke's Children's Hospital. Not only do they give gifts to the children who are admitted to the hospital but they provide toys to their siblings as well. I chose to purchase a variety of baby girl and baby boy clothes, pajamas, baby blankets, baby toys, sunglasses and matching headbands and of course, Boise State onesies! While I was shopping, I felt compelled to match Red Sky's donation with an additional $100. It was great to give back to our local community and having a little baby of our own, it hit home and felt awesome to shop for other families in need. Find out more about Wagon Tales on their Facebook page.
For Red Sky Gives Back, I spent my afternoon with the kids in the P16 project after-school program. P16 is Caldwell School District’s collaborative with the Treasure Valley YMCA and the United Way of Treasure Valley to ensure all children in the Caldwell School District are academically, socially and emotionally prepared for school and have aspirations for college and careers. With arts and crafts supplies in hand, I headed to Caldwell to hang out with the next generation of leaders. I talked to the kids about my journey to college (Go Vandals!) and how my degree helped me pursue a career that I love. Then, I helped thekids make posters promoting one of United Way’s initiatives that helps fund P16; recycling. I left Caldwell with enough original artwork to wallpaper a house, a new appreciation for the hilarious things kids say and true gratitude for Red Sky for affording me the afternoon to give back.
When I heard that each Red Sky’er was going to receive $100 to be used for “good” in the community, I was struck with the awesomeness of this idea. I am extremely blessed to be a part of the Red Sky team, and happy to be able to participate in spreading a little holiday cheer.
I immediately thought of Toys for Tots when I received my $100. The Toys for Tots program is run by the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve, and takes place each year before Christmas. With multiple drop-off locations through out town, many of them manned by a Marine and located at a place where toys are sold, the Marine Corps Reserve makes it extremely easy to give to this program. The Toys for Tots program collects new, unwrapped toys and distributes them to less fortunate children in the community they were collected. I love this program because it keeps the toys in the same community – the toys aren’t shipped somewhere else. Through the wonder that is the internet, Toys For Tots also accepts monetary donations through their website.
I might be a little biased towards cats - I am the only Red Sky-er to own any (I have two rescued lovelies, Eleanor Rigby and Evelyn), but it's just a fact that cats are regularly looked over when it comes to Idaho Humane Society donations. It is great that so many people want to help out the dogs, but cats are in need of just as much care. So when the IHS sent out a call for help when cat food supplies dwindled dangerously low, I knew that was where my Red Sky Gives Back funds would be going. After a trip to Coscto to load up on kitty chow I headed over to the facility and dropped off the food, since I still had a few bucks left in my pocket I bought some toys from the shelter store for them to give to the kitties as well. I spent some time just hanging out with the felines and petting them--for me, there is nothing quite like the purr of a happy cat!
Thanks to Anna Webb for inspiring me this year with a new opportunity to give back. Her recent column on young refugee kids who had learned of the Christmas stocking tradition, but didn't receive any treats when they hung their stockings last year, really touched me. As did the request from Real Solutions Counseling for more practical items for the kids.
We also reached out to the big-hearted folks at Wishing Star to see if we could help with sponsoring any families. While there wasn't the opportunity for us at this time, we have a wonderful chance in the coming months to meet and spend time with an amazing boy who is a foodie like we are.
I look forward to taking the spirit of this give-back season and keeping it alive - working harder to give forward in all times throughout the entire year.