The Celebrity Truth

Angelina Jolie in Kenya in 2009. (Source:

Some wonder whether celebrities are actually taking the initiative to use their large fortunes to give back to those who are in need. It makes sense to question these people and their philanthropic actions. There are many charities, organizations, and service groups that need assistance and resources in order to make this world a better place. Celebrities have so much money and success, it wouldn’t make sense for them to not contribute to the community. It would be a small feet for them to overcome. So the truth about celebrities? They DO donate.

Sports players, musicians, comedians, actors/actresses, directors, hosts and many more have contributed large amounts to charities. Some of these celebrities include: Taylor Swift, Michael Jordan, Angelina Jolie, Oprah Winfrey, George Lucas, Mel Gibson, Bono, Sandra Bullock, and Ellen DeGeneres. Many celebrities donate millions each year.

In fact, there are numerous celebrities who are founders of their own charity organizations. Macklemore and Ryan Lewis began the 30/30 Project, Ian Somerhalder founded the IS Foundation, Beyonce created the #BeyGood Campaign, and Carrie Underwood started the C.A.T.S. Foundation. And this is just the beginning. Many celebrities even take on 20-50 charities at the same time.

According to Forbes, the record-breaking donation was $10,569,002 from actress Jami Gertz and entrepreneur husband, Anthony Ressler to their charity, the Ressler-Gertz Foundation, in 2012. The Ressler-Gertz Foundation is a non-profit organization that provides education, scholarships, and financial assistance to organizations and individuals in need. Their organization provided an abundant amount of help focused on medical treatments and research.

“Any time you’re helping someone is very important and, of course, when children are involved. I feel like your celebrity is not about the fortune or the fame. But if you can’t help anyone then it’s in vain, it’s pointless.”
-Jennifer Hudson

Travel Advantage Network Donates to the Wounded Marine Fund

The month of May has proven to be extremely productive for all of the Travel Advantage Network Travel Advocates. Thanks to Steven Ogden and the assistance and donations of employees, about $2,066 was raised for the Wounded Marine Fund. The Wounded Marine Fund expresses that their mission is “to help combat wounded Marines returning from the War on Terror. More specifically, Marines who have lost limbs. The Wounded Marine Fund will provide financial aid in the form of trusts. The funds from these trusts will be available to the beneficiaries for any purpose that will help our heroes regain their independence.” It was our mission to help as many of these Marines as our funding will allow.

Steve Ogden, a Travel Advocate in  Account Management, lead the charity for the month of May. Steve chose the Wounded Marine Fund because he personally connects with it in a special way.

“I am a disabled Marine, I still have all my limbs, unlike the Marines we are raising money for,” Steve explained. “These Marines have given a lot more than me, they have lost limbs and are still getting surgeries to repair them. The money we raise goes a long way in helping them get their lives together. In the Marines we have a saying ‘Semper Fi’ which means always faithful. This is my way of giving back.”

Fundraising efforts consisted of several special events that were held throughout the month of May. There was a silent auction that included an array of great  prizes like: Dirty Dancing tickets, Golden Corral buffet tickets, car washes, Gorilla Grahams and more. In addition, tickets were sold for a delicious sausage, gravy and biscuit breakfast. Every Friday was weekly jeans day where participants donated $5 to wear jeans. In addition, a 50/50 raffle was played so Travel Advantage Network employees could have a chance at winning a cash prize, while giving back in the process.

A big shout out to Steve Ogden and the Travel Advantage Network employees who participated in donating to the Wounded Marine Fund. For more information on the Wounded Marine Fund, check out the website here.

The Richfield Association of Parents and Teachers (RAPT) Thanks Travel Advantage Network

It is always an amazing opportunity to assist different charitable organizations to ensure their mission is successfully achieved. Travel Advantage Network had the pleasure of donating to the Richfield Association of Parents and Teachers (RAPT). RAPT is organization based out of Hurbertus, Wisconsin that’s mission is, “to promote and support fundraising activities that enrich student learning and the school environment that may otherwise not be provided within the Richfield Joint School District #1.”

In early February, RAPT contacted Travel Advantage Network with hopes of receiving a donation for their Richfield Annual Celebrate Families Dinner & Silent Auction on Thursday, March 26, 2015. The goal of the event was to raise enough money to support numerous students in their educational pursuits. This includes school equipment, field trips, enrichment materials and much more. Travel Advantage Network welcomed this opportunity with open arms.

We were delighted to donate a week of vacation to; Hilton Head, South Carolina, Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, or Kaunakakai, Hawaii. RAPT reciprocated with a wonderful thank you letter (above) and a postcard from the children (below). Thank you RAPT for giving us the privilege of donating to such a wonderful cause.

Employees Donate Time to BBB Shred Day

The Better Business Bureau (BBB) held their annual Shred Day event on April 18, 2015 from 8AM to noon in White Marsh, Maryland. Travel Advantage Network employees were invited to volunteer at this initiative to help reduce identity theft. At this event, participants are able to bring up to three boxes of documents for free, on-site shredding.

Volunteers from Travel Advantage Network were greeters, welcoming drivers with goodie bags and helping to keep traffic flowing. The event had over 700 attendees, with a steady stream of cars for the first three hours. Many got there early, securing their spot in line for the 8 AM start to begin filling the four Shred-It trucks.

A big thank you to our Travel Advantage Network employees who participated and to the BBB for holding this event. Be sure to visit the BBB official website for more information and be on the lookout for the 2016 Shred Day, occurring the Saturday after Tax Day.

Travel Advantage Network Donates to March of Dimes

Did you know that in 1 in 9 babies in the United States are born prematurely? Or that in the world, 15 million babies are both prematurely each year?* March of Dimes is a charity that not only helps spread awareness about problems that threaten the health of babies, but they also help mothers have full-term pregnancies.

For the month of March, Travel Advantage Network, a vacation accommodations program, dedicated its charitable efforts to the March of Dimes, raising a total of $1,750. Flavia Oleniewski, Web Designer / Developer, raised funds for this charity that is close to her heart.

“My son was born with a congenital heart defect which required open heart surgery when he was a baby, and my daughter was born at only 28 weeks gestation and spent 68 days in the NICU,” Oleniewski explained. “March of Dimes’ efforts to prevent birth defects and prematurity is my motivation for this month’s fundraiser.  Hopefully, through their research, they’ll be able to learn why these things happen and hopefully prevent other families from going through what my kids went through.”

To support this charity, Oleniewski held fun activities throughout March including weekly bingo games, a pancake breakfast, blackjack, daffodil grams, a bake sale, jeans days and a departmental challenge. The IT department won the departmental challenge, collecting over $40 in the baby bottle passed out to all departments during the month, winning a free jeans day.

A big thank you to Flavia and the Travel Advantage Network employees who helped donate towards this charitable cause. To find out more information the March of Dimes, you can visit their official website here.


Travel Advantage Network Supports Local Charity: Maryland Therapeutic Riding

For the month of February, Travel Advantage Network, a vacation accommodations program, dedicated its charitable efforts to Maryland Therapeutic Riding, raising a total of $1,365. This charity raises money for therapeutic programs that provide horseback riding to those with physical, emotional or developmental health challenges.

Shari Walker, Senior Staff Accountant, raised funds for these programs through a variety of fun and educational activities. Along with jeans days and a 50/50 raffle, Walker promoted candy/rose valentines, pony-grams, a Flag Day breakfast, a guess the baby picture game and trivia for this cause that she is passionate about.

“I have a horse of my own and run a small boarding facility, and I have volunteered at several therapeutic riding facilities in the past and am passionate about their mission,” Walker said. “Maryland Therapeutic Riding combines so much good: animals, helping the disabled and veterans, and they are right in our own community!”

Maryland Therapeutic Riding was founded in 1996 and is located in Crownsville, Maryland on a gorgeous, 25-acre farm. This unique charity offers therapeutic riding and hippotherapy, which has a variety of benefits including:

  • Normalizing muscle strength and tone
  • Improving coordination, balance, and body awareness
  • Enhancing self-image and confidence
  • Promoting interpersonal communication and bonding

To find out more information about Maryland Therapeutic Riding or to donate to the cause, you can visit their official website here.

Travel Advantage Network Helps Premature and Critically-Ill Infants in the NICU

For the month of January, Travel Advantage Network, a vacation accommodations program, dedicated its charitable efforts to the Anne Arundel Medical Center NICU. The $2004 raised will provide babies who are premature or critically-ill with professional neonatal health services. Leading the charitable efforts were Ellen Moore (Chief Operating Officer) and Dawn Ashburn (VIP Agent). The duo picked this charity for a very unique reason.

“Our children were born into the NICU at the same time,” Moore said. “When I met Dawn, I saw photos of her twins with NICU wires and asked. We figured out that my daughter and her boys were in there together, so it made sense to raise money for them.”

To support this charity, Moore and Ashburn led a variety of activities to get employees involved in this month’s charity. Some of these activities included jeans days, a scavenger hunt around the company campus that educated participants about the NICU and a reverse raffle where employees paid to get out of having to do the Chicken Dance at the monthly company meeting. Perhaps the most memorable charity activity was called Sticky Fly where employees paid for strips of duct tape to tape Ellen to the wall (see image).

A big thank you to Ellen, Dawn and the Travel Advantage Network employees who helped in this success! To find out more information about this charity, you can visit their official website here.

Travel Advantage Network Donates to Project Stay Warm

For the month of December, Travel Advantage Network, a vacation accommodations program, dedicated its charitable efforts to Project Stay Warm. This non-profit organization is affiliated with Let’s Feed the City, a program that helps the less fortunate in the Baltimore community, run by Shelley’s Helping Hands.

To support this charity, employees donated requested items including blankets, clothing, coats, warm winter gear, toiletries, towels and food. Two Travel Advantage Network employees (Dawn Robey, Executive Assistant to President, and Vivian Lo, Account Admin Specialist) led the charity efforts. The duo worked persistently to fill an entire cargo van full of donations. They distributed the items on Sunday, December 21st in a Baltimore park.

“I chose this charity because I had been wanting to give back to the community but was unsure in regards to what organization or where to start,” Vivian said. “It’s amazing to see how our efforts provide such a blessing to those in need. It was definitely a life-changing experience and helped me put things in my life into perspective.”

To find out more information about this charity, you can visit their affiliate’s official Facebook page here.

Anne Arundel County Down Syndrome Connection Thanks Travel Advantage Network

Click image to read card

After raising $1,030 for The Down Syndrome Connection during Down Syndrome Awareness Month (October), Travel Advantage Network received a personal thank you note from the organization itself. The thank you stated that the money donated will “help members in many ways including education, emergency resources, support for new families and more.”

Vickie Hamilton, Staff Accountant/Payroll Administrator at Travel Advantage Network, coordinated October’s charity efforts and held Jeans’ Days throughout the month along with a chili luncheon and a bake sale. Vickie is extremely passionate about this charitable cause for a significant reason.

“My daughter, Allison, who is 17 years old has Down syndrome,” Vickie said. “I became part of this group when she was about seven, and I can really see the impact that we make on the lives of other parents who have children with Down Syndrome.”

A big thank you to all who contributed to this charity!

Travel Advantage Network Helps Neglected Parrots

For the month of July, Travel Advantage Network, a vacation accommodations program, dedicated its charitable efforts to The Icarus Foundation Inc.’s Chesapeake Parrot Sanctuary. This charity raises money to properly care for neglected and abused parrots.

“Birds are considered the third largest group of animals kept as pets in the United States, after cats and dogs; however, the abuse and neglect they face is rarely heard of,” Hannah Mantooth, the B2B Vendor Sales Coordinator and leader of this month’s charity efforts, said. “I wanted to spread awareness, more than anything, about the care, time and dedication these animals require.”

Mantooth worked during the entire month of July to help raise money for the charity holding weekly bingo games, jeans days, “Build Your Own Bird Seed” day and “Tropical Fruit Smoothie Day.” A total of $1,000 was raised for the charity and the money will help the founder, Christine Richter Zotto, and her team care for the parrots. This charity is especially meaningful to Travel Advantage Network since Sunny, our mascot, is a parrot; we want to ensure that his family members are well taken care of.

“It’s important to me to help charities in the area as a way to give back to my community,” Mantooth said. “Animals, including parrots, are high on my list of charitable causes to advocate for.”

A big thank you to Hannah and the Travel Advantage Network employees who helped make this happen!