Boston Community Service: Highlights from 2012
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Boston Community Service: Highlights from 2012

A look back at what associates at headquarters did to give back to our community

At Grand Circle Corporation, philanthropy is a way of life. Every time our associates participate in community service, they discover something new about teamwork, personal accomplishment, and citizenship. For more than 20 years, we have engaged everyone involved with the company—associates, Trip Leaders and Program Directors, community partners, and travelers—in service to others, at home, and around the world. So far this year, 88% of our Boston associates have participated in Community Service Events, and we look back on some of the highlights here.

Prepping Meals at West End House
On March 7, a team of eight Grand Circle associates had the opportunity help out at the West End House Boys & Girls Club, an organization whose mission is to enable disadvantaged youth from all backgrounds to realize their full potential. Founded in 1906, the West End House has made a significant difference in the lives of young people, as evidenced by the 96% graduation rate and 92% college enrollment rate of their membership.

In addition to teaching children valuable life skills, the House also serves over 1,200 healthful hot meals to members every week. For many, it is their only healthy meal of the week. On that evening, the Grand Circle team helped prepare a fruit salad and chopped carrots, onions, and celery for the next day's fish chowder. The chef was grateful for the help: "I am so happy that Grand Circle offers the day of service. Each quarter I look forward to it."

Sorting Staples at Greater Boston Food Bank
Volunteering at the Greater Boston Food Bank is so popular that this event is offered six times each year, just to provide ample opportunity for associates to contribute.

In just a few hours at the Food Bank, associates help to provide thousands of meals to those in need. Our assistance also helps the Food Bank save hundreds of thousands dollars a year in salary and related expenses. Tons of salvageable food items are re-directed to people in need, rather than being simply discarded due to over-ordering or changes in consumer or store preferences.

The associates who take advantage of this opportunity—many of who come back again and again—go home knowing that the hours they spent on a Wednesday evening meant so much to so many.

In January of this year, a Grand Circle food drive also yielded 430 pounds of canned and boxed goods for the Food Bank. Since 1.3 pounds of food is roughly the equivalent of one meal, Grand Circle's contributions translate to around 330 meals for hungry Massachusetts residents.

Helping Homeless Veterans Move Up & Out
The New England Center for Homeless Veterans serves more than 1,000 veterans a year. In Grand Circle's Up & Out program, volunteers from our Boston office help to furnish new homes of veterans each month. To date, Grand Circle Foundation has orchestrated nine moves since January.

Rebuilding Together Boston
As every traveler knows, there's no place like home after a long journey. But what about those who have no home to return to? Thanks to 113 Grand Circle and OAT associates who participated in our largest annual event, Rebuilding Together Boston, formerly homeless women can rebuild their lives in newly renovated quarters in the Dorchester neighborhood of Boston.

Donating at the Children's Hospital Blood Drive
On October 18, Grand Circle associates truly gave of themselves when they participated in our Children's Hospital blood drive. The blood mobile was parked outside of 347 Congress from 9am to 3pm, and a steady stream of warm-hearted volunteers showed up at their allotted time to give. In all, 36 pints of blood were collected that day. Due to the generosity of dozens of Grand Circle associates that gave blood, 144 lives will be touched.

Sharing World Culture as "Big" for a Day
It's impossible to take a trip around the world in a few hours—but that's exactly what associates and volunteers at our Boston headquarters helped girls from Boston's underserved neighborhoods do one recent Saturday morning. Our "Big for a Day" event paired Grand Circle employees with "Little Sisters" from the Big Sister Association of Boston for five fun, themed activities incorporating Grand Circle and OAT destinations.

In an Italy-themed corner, colorful sprinkles and frostings kept the cookie-decorating festive. The beauty beads table, with a Zimbabwean flair, encouraged girls to create jewelry featuring the colors of the flags of their heritage.

The China-inspired self-defense class packed a particular punch, as youth from the East Coast School of Martial Arts flipped, kicked, and put on a stunning show. In addition to being fun, this activity helped to build the self-confidence of participants, many of whom hailed from Mattapan, one of the three communities (along with Roxbury and Dorchester) served by Grand Circle Foundation's CollegeWorks initiative to increase graduation rates in Boston.

Fundraising through Running, Walking, and Biking
Our Boston associates love to find creative ways to raise money in support of our favorite causes. In May, we held an all-you-can-eat Boloco burrito fundraiser, with matching donations provided by Grand Circle Corporation, and raised more than $7,000 in support of the AIDS Action Committee of Massachusetts and the AIDS Walk & Run—landing the company among the top 15 participating teams in the state.

Nine associates also participated in the Pan-Mass Challenge, the nation's original bike-a-thon, this year. A hot dog-eating contest helped the team raise $20,000 for the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute.

Three more Boston associates, Brian Fitzgerald, Kara O'Toole, & Lisa Wolk, ran 26 miles in this year's Boston Marathon to support non-profit organizations including Brigham Women's Hospital, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, and the Massachusetts Association for the Blind & Impaired. With the help of a March Madness Fundraiser and a cake sale, the runners surpassed their $12,000 goal, raising more than $13,000 for their respective charities.

Featured in our December 2012 E-Newsletter. Read the full issue here.