Travel Advantage Network Donates to Operation Christmas Child For Fourth Consecutive Year

With the commencement of the holiday season, it is easy to get lost in the chaos of holiday shopping and the busyness that the end of the year brings. However, this is the perfect time for gratitude and extending a hand to those in need. Operation Christmas Child (OCC), a project sponsored by Samaritan’s Purse, does just that.

This project gives children an opportunity of a Christmas for those who may not be as fortunate. According to Samaritan’s Purse’s official website, since their origination in 1993, OCC has collected and delivered more than 124 million shoe boxes to children in over 150 countries and territories. They have over 4,000 drop-off sites in all of the 50 states and Puerto Rico.

Since 2012, Travel Advantage Network, a vacation accommodations program, has dedicated its charitable efforts to Operation Christmas Child in the month of November as it is sponsored by Lauren Lombard, Corporate Trainer.

“I chose to host Operation Christmas Child because it allows us to give to children around the world who don’t necessarily have toys, hygiene products or school supplies,” Lombard said. “In many cases, the shoebox is their only Christmas. The charity is very personal in that what you pack in your shoebox will be opened and loved by a little boy or girl somewhere in this world. Being able to give that kind of joy is priceless. ”

Last year, Travel Advantage Network donated 131 boxes to Operation Christmas Child. This year, our goal was 150 boxes, which is more than we have collected in the past years. We donated that and more, donating 204 boxes!

“That is 204 boys and girls who will have the joy of receiving a box of gifts due to the efforts of the employees at Travel Advantage Network,” Lombard said.

The process is simple, but the outcome is priceless. Grab a shoebox, select the age and gender of the child you are giving to, and fill the box with toys, school supplies, hygiene items, and more. Employees at Travel Advantage Network were given two weeks to prepare and finish their boxes.

“My favorite part this year was the overwhelming response,” Lombard said. “Everyone joined in, even having competition amongst some department leaders. I couldn’t have asked for a better, more successful year!”

Lauren is already signed up to host next year’s November charity, choosing Operation Christmas Child for the fifth consecutive year. To find out more information about Operation Christmas Child or to get involved yourself, visit the official website here.

Travel Advantage Network Donates to Down Syndrome Connection

Did you know that October is Down Syndrome Awareness Month? Or that one in every 800-1000 live births results in a child with Down Syndrome? Down Syndrome Connection, an affiliate of the Arc of the Central Chesapeake, aims to encourage, empower and embrace those with Down Syndrome along with their families.

For the month of October, Travel Advantage Network, a vacation accommodations program, dedicated its charitable efforts to Down Syndrome Connection. Vickie Hamilton, Staff Accountant, raised funds for this charity that she has a personal connection to.

“I chose Down Syndrome Connection because my daughter has Down syndrome,” Vickie said. “I have seen the difference this organization makes in the lives of people with Down Syndrome living in Anne Arundel County.”

To support this charity, Vickie held several activities including bingo, ghost candy grams, and a muffin/bagel sale. General donations were also collected throughout the company.

A big thank you to Vickie and the Travel Advantage Network employees who helped donate towards this charitable cause. To find out more information about Down Syndrome Connection, you can visit their official website here.

Travel Advantage Network Donates to the Alzheimer’s Association

For the month of September, Travel Advantage Network, a vacation accommodations program, dedicated its charitable efforts to the Alzheimer’s Association, raising a total of $1,337.50. This charity has been named a top large nonprofit to work for by The NonProfit Times. The Alzheimer’s Association works to support those affected by Alzheimer’s and other dementias through “enhancing care and support, advancing researching and advocating.”

Nikia Richmond (HR Enterprise Recruiter) and Andrea Najarian (B2B Senior Coordinator) collaborated to raise funds for this charity throughout the month of September. Nikia has a personal connection to Alzheimer’s as she lost her mother to this debilitating disease.

“We watched our ever so vibrant mother turn into a figment of herself that we no longer recognized,” Nikia said. “A woman who loved to talk and laugh and who had the biggest smile now just existed. Upon her passing, my sisters and I became committed to helping other families fight.  We knew our mother’s death was not in vain, and we became her voice.”

To help raise funds, Nikia and Andrea sponsored a variety of activities including a 50/50 raffle, a mega muffin sale, forget-me-nots, a silent auction for the Broadway show “Kinky Boots,” a company-wide Scrabble game and more. The most competitive and interactive activity was Scrabble, where Travel Advocates bought letters and competed for first, second and third place prizes.

A big shout out to Nikia, Andrea and the Travel Advantage network employees who participated in donating to the Alzheimer’s Association. For more information on this charity, visit their official website here.

A Social Media Shoutout

After collecting over $2,000 for Frisky’s Wildlife & Primate Sanctuary through employee donations in the month of August, the charity gave us a kind shoutout on their Facebook page which you can visit here.

To thank our employees, we gave out awards from Frisky’s depending on how much each employee donated. These rewards included a bumper sticker, Frisky’s shirts and/or a tour of Frisky’s in Woodstock, Maryland.

Frisky’s is a non-profit wildlife rehabilitation center who is the home to many injured, orphaned, abandoned or displaced wildlife. Some of these animals include monkeys, birds, turtles, squirrels and much more.

To learn more about Frisky’s and their mission, you can visit their official website here.

Travel Advantage Network Donates to Frisky’s Wildlife & Primate Sanctuary

For the month of August, Travel Advantage Network, a vacation accommodations program, dedicated its charitable efforts to Frisky’s Wildlife & Primate Sanctuary, Inc., raising a total of $2,226.25. This unique, non-profit organization prides themselves in their Wildlife Rehabilitation specialization. The charity, whose roots began in 1970, takes in injured, orphaned, abandoned or displaced wildlife. Frisky’s goal is to return the wildlife back to their natural habitat after they are strong enough/old enough to safely live in the wild. The sanctuary houses primates and other small exotics such as monkeys, birds, rabbits, squirrels and more.

The Marketing department raised funds for Frisky’s through a variety of activities for Travel Advocates to participate in throughout the month of August. These activities included weekly bingo, a silent auction, a Ravens ticket raffle, a bake sale, a pancake breakfast and the delivery of banana-grams. Perhaps the most competitive activity was the Support Your Monkey challenge, where each department was able to “sponsor” a monkey. All of the proceeds that the Travel Advocates donated in that department went towards their monkey. The department with the most monetary/physical donations won a tour to Frisky’s along with a shirt, bumper sticker and more. The winning department was the IT department, raising a total of $298 for their monkey, Mandy!

“Seeing the employees at Travel Advantage Network rally together to support such a great cause was a very rewarding feeling,” Alyssa Yuan, Marketing Project Coordinator, said. “We not only surpassed our monetary goal for donations for Frisky’s, but we were able to spread our passion for animals throughout the process.”

To find out more information about Frisky’s or to donate to the cause, you can visit the official website here.

Helping Animals in Need

As part of Travel Advantage Network’s charity efforts, the Marketing team is currently collecting money and supplies for Frisky’s Wildlife & Primate Sanctuary, Inc. While collecting donations, we have also been educating our Travel Advocates about the sanctuary along with about what to do should they find a baby animal.

According to Frisky’s Wildlife & Primate Sanctuary, Inc, here is some information about what to do if you find a baby animal:

  • Birds: If you know the mother is dead or the baby is injured, call the wildlife rehabilitator right away. If the baby is separated from the mother and you know where she is, place the baby close by so she can hear it and watch from a distance. If the mother is not found or does not claim the baby within an hour, call a wildlife rehabilitator.
  • Bunnies: If their nest is damaged, you can use light grass to repair it. Mothers return only at dawn and dusk. When bunnies are 4-5 inches long, able to hop and have eyes open, they are able to survive on their own.
  • Fawns: Mothers normally feed and leave their babies behind. Unless the baby looks diseased, confused or threatened, leave the baby and the area alone or else the mother will not return.

If the animal is hurt or sick (i.e. bleeding, vomiting, shivering, flies around it, splayed out, attacked, weak), call your local Wildlife Rehabilitator, Frisky’s (410-418-8899). If you are unable to reach a wildlife rehabilitator, carefully keep the baby warm and in a quiet area until you are able to take the baby to the rehabilitator.

For a full look at what to do if you find a baby animal in the wild, click here. Stay tuned to see what activities the Marketing team does to raise money along with the total amount of donations Frisky’s will receive from Travel Advantage Network.

Travel Advantage Network Donates to the National Stroke Association

For the month of July, Travel Advantage Network, a vacation accommodations program, dedicated its charity efforts to the National Stroke Association, raising a total of $747. This charity raises money to help those impacted by strokes through prevention, treatment, rehabilitation and support.

Denise Wilson, TVS Reservation Agent, raised funds for this charity throughout the month of July with different activities for Travel Advocates to participate in. Some of these included a Tupperware fundraiser, a cook-out event, a silent auction for Dierks Bentley tickets and a special charity auction for a 4-hour limousine service along with a $100 gift certificate to Arturo’s Italian restaurant.

The National Stroke Association gives 74% of their funds to stroke education, while 15% goes towards fundraising. Only 9% goes towards administrative expenses. The non-profit organization has many resources for those that are affected by stroke including a Stroke Help Line, StrokeSmart Magazine, a tool to find a local support group, many publications and more.

A big shout out to Denise Wilson and the Travel Advocates who participated in donating to the National Stroke Association. For more information on the National Stroke Association, check out the website here.

The History of Charity

         Click to image above to view the entire infograph

Giving back through charities is a concept that is so established in our society that it’s difficult to imagine a time before their existence. However, the evolution of charitable giving is one that dates back to 2500 BCE. Take a look at the timeline of some key events in history that helped to develop the concept of charity:

  • 2500 BCE: Ancient Hebrews used a mandatory tax or “tithe” to benefit the poor.
  • 500 BCE: The world “philanthropy” first appeared in the drama “Prometheus Bound” by Aeschylus. Phil means “love” while anthro means “man”.
  • 387 BCE: Plato’s Academy, which was a group working for the public good on a voluntary basis, is established.
  • 1601: The Charitable Uses Act of 1601 is enacted by Parliament, which identifies what purposes can be defined as “charitable”.
  • 1643: The first American fundraising drive is organized by Harvard University, raising about 500 pounds (according to, this would be worth £75,830 or $118,037 USD today).
  • 1835: “Democracy in America” by Alexis de Tocqueville is published, which highlights the philanthropic spirit of Americans as one of the country’s strengths.
  • 1913: Congress passes the Revenue Act of 1913 which exempts charitable organizations from paying taxes.
  • 1914: World’s first community foundation (The Cleveland Foundation) is established in Cleveland, Ohio.
  • 1935: Corporations are now allowed to deduct charitable contributions.
  • Today: The Giving Pledge invites America’s wealthiest  to commit to giving the majority of their wealth to philanthropic efforts.


Travel Advantage Network Donates to the Lupus Foundation

In the month of June, Andrea Billings, a Travel Advocate in the TVS department, headed the month’s charity efforts, donating to the Lupus Foundation of America. The Lupus Foundation is a national organization devoted to figuring out the mystery behind lupus, the world’s cruelest, most unpredictable, and devastating disease. Their mission is to “improve the quality of life for all people affected by lupus through programs of research, education, support and advocacy.” To carry out this mission, they have three goals:

  1. Reduce the time of diagnosis
  2. Ensure people with lupus have safe and effective treatments
  3. Expand direct services and increasing access to treatment and care.

With the help of Travel Advantage Network employees, we raised $1,153. Andrea was inspired to choose this charity because a few of our Travel Advocates actually have lupus. Andrea feels we, as Travel Advocates, are a family that should support each other through our hard times.

“Charity starts at home,” Andrea explains. “As a family, we need to stick together.”

Inspired by Andrea’s mission, Travel Advocates took action to successfully raise a generous amount of money. Charitable efforts included several different events that were held throughout the month of June. Andrea started with having a spaghetti lunch where employees paid $7 for a delicious spaghetti meal. There was also a bake sale that consisted of delicious brownies, butter pecan bars, cookies, cake, and cupcakes. A 50/50 raffle occurred as well as jeans day, where employees paid $5 to wear jeans on Fridays. In addition, a silent auction featured Pure White Hennessy, a Picnic Basket, and a Basket of Cheer.

A big shout out to Andrea Billings and the Travel Advocates who participated in donating to the Lupus Foundation of America. For more information on the Lupus Foundation, check out the website here. You can also donate below.

Donate to the Lupus Foundation

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