December 5, 2008 — While most holiday parties include music, good food and people having fun, the Holiday Celebration at the University of Virginia's Darden School of Business Thursday included an additional component: Before staff and faculty attended the party, many of them spent part of their day helping others in the community.
"When we were organizing the Darden staff and faculty holiday gathering, the idea of including a public service piece was recommended," said Ted Forbes, executive director of the Darden School Foundation. "The committee felt that was a great idea. It really took off."
The employee celebration began at 3:30 p.m., but at noon teams of Darden volunteers hit the streets of Charlottesville, where they spent time helping various organizations in need of holiday assistance. A large group visited nursing homes, where they decorated and sang for residents.
"It was really fun," said Susan Wormington, Darden's director of publications. "So many people wanted to be involved with nursing homes that we ended up dividing the group into three teams. Our team sang for residents and decorated the Christmas tree there."
Besides the visits to three nursing homes, employees assisted with Habitat for Humanity and the Shelter for Help in Emergency. In addition, teams gathered, purchased and wrapped presents for a number of charitable organizations such as Jeffrey's Gifts, which provides gifts of comfort to pediatric cancer patients and their families. Darden employees donated money so the volunteers could purchase the gifts.
New and gently used clothing was collected this week, too. The clothing was donated to local charities.
"Over 100 people volunteered today," said Jim Kurre, human resources director at the Darden School. "Plus, many people who were unable to volunteer instead donated money and gifts in order to support the effort. So, it's difficult to tell just how many Darden employees pitched in, but the number is quite impressive."
Later in the day, employees met in the PepsiCo Forum for the Darden Holiday Celebration. The volunteers were recognized and a slide show featuring photos from the day's earlier public service activities was shown.
"It was a success and a good way to celebrate the holidays," said Fred Telegdy, a multimedia developer who serves on Darden's Staff Council. "We got to spend time with our friends and co-workers and we helped others."
About the Darden School of Business
Founded in 1955, the University of Virginia's Darden School of Business is a professional school that improves society by developing principled leaders for the world of practical affairs.
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