Workplace Culture

Holiday Parties Turn Into Sandy Relief Efforts

By Ali Elkin

Dec. 7, 2012

Teachers from schools devastated by Superstorm Sandy and firefighters who participated in relief efforts will be guests of honor at Grey New York’s holiday party this year.

Grey is one of many companies turning this year’s holiday party into an opportunity to help those affected by the storm through food drives, fundraising and volunteer initiatives. The annual night of letting loose is morphing into a night of doing good.

Grey’s party is typically employees-only, but this year about 10 Sandy victims the company encountered during its own volunteer efforts will be included in the festivities.

After Sandy, Grey designated certain employees as point people for affected areas from Coney Island, New York, to the Rockaways, New York. Employees volunteering in those locations also donated needed items, like school supplies.

At the company’s party next week, employees will raise money to help rebuild Sandy-stricken neighborhoods through a suggested cover charge of $5, a raffle and a digital photo booth. Grey will match the funds. In the first two days of ticket sales this week, Grey had already raised $1,850. Raffle prizes are varied and include a helicopter ride over the city, an iPad and a lesson in butchering meat. The party is being held at the 40/40 Club in Midtown South.

“We of course wanted to celebrate the achievements of the year, but it was only natural to turn that into something that would keep the momentum going,” said Grey marketing executive Jennifer Landers.

At S&P Capital IQ’s party, employees will be put to work assembling and packaging disaster kits for affected families. They will also be encouraged to bring in donations for a food and coat drive that parent company McGraw-Hill is sponsoring. S&P Capital IQ employees have first-hand knowledge of Sandy’s effects: The company is still displaced from its offices at 55 Water St., which has been closed since the storm. The party will be at the Mariott Marquis in Times Square on Dec. 17.

“We wanted to be able to contribute in a tangible way to the recovery efforts,” said a company spokeswoman in an e-mail.

Collective, a media management company, held a food drive at its party at Celsius in Bryant Park on Dec. 3. But guests (both employees and clients) didn’t need to bring a single can. Instead, the company made a $20,000 corporate gift to the Salvation Army of New York and New Jersey through a novel website, You Give Goods. Clients attending the party got to pick out which items to donate and You Give Goods assembled and delivered them. Employees helped out by circulating iPads connected to the site. Collective donated a total of 5,358 items, including 264 jars of peanut butter, 306 boxes of pasta, 135 cans of tuna. Collective used about half of the $20,000 at the party and will have clients who couldn’t attend chose food items online during the rest of the holiday season.

“We set it up through You Give Goods because it’s very easy for them to donate,” said Jerome FitzGibbons, Collective co-founder. He added that company employees have given thousands of dollars on their own.

Ali Elkin writes for Crain’s New York Business, a sister publication of Workforce Management. Comment below or email

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