Our 2015 Charity Recap

For Travel Advantage Network, charitable giving doesn’t just happen once a year; it’s part of our every day culture. Travel Advantage Network, a vacation accommodations program, has been giving back to the community since 1992 through its monthly employee charity program, supporting both local and national charities. In 2015, the company raised a record total of $15,000 in monetary donations, collected 204 Christmas boxes for children in need and 21 bags of donations that included toiletries and clothes.

Each month, a Travel Advantage Network employee chooses a charity to support and throughout the month, he or she raises money for that charity with a variety of activities. Past activities have included bingo games, 50/50 raffles, bake sales, auctions, department challenges and more. In 2015, employee charities included: Anne Arundel Medical Center’s NICU Unit, Maryland Therapeutic Riding, March of Dimes, Chesapeake Bay Foundation, The Wounded Marine Fund, Lupus Foundation of America, National Stroke Association, Frisky’s Wildlife & Primate Sanctuary Inc, Alzheimer’s Association, Down Syndrome Connection, Operation Christmas Child, and Making Dreams Come True.

“The charity program allows us the opportunity to support a cause we otherwise might never have known about,” Lauren Lombard, who has led the Operation Christmas Child charity for four consecutive years, said. “What I love most is having the opportunity to teach my three young daughters the importance of getting involved and giving back.  Watching them experience the joy of helping someone else is priceless.  They had such a great time putting together the Christmas boxes for the boys and girls around the world, and they can’t wait to do it again this November!”

2016 has already proven to be a great start to our charity efforts with money and awareness being raised for 100 Club of Anne Arundel County, Mended Little Hearts of Greater Baltimore and Almost Heaven Rescue & Sanctuary. So far, over $5,000 has already been donated just in these first three months. We are looking forward to seeing what success this year continues to bring us!

Travel Advantage Network Donates to 100 Club of Anne Arundel County

Kicking off our 2016 charity season, Travel Advantage Network, a vacation accommodations program, dedicated its charitable efforts in the month of January to the 100 Club of Anne Arundel County, raising a total of $1,879! Dorrie Saghy, Account Management Manager, raised funds for this charity throughout the month.

“All the money donated stays local here in Anne Arundel County,” Dorrie explained. “This charity provides for both professional first responders and also volunteer first responders.”

The 100 Club of Anne Arundel County prides themselves on “serving those who serve others.” This includes providing supplemental benefits to the families of the following types of first responders who have lost their lives in the line of duty:

  • Firefighters
  • Law enforcement & Detention officers
  • Emergency medical personnel

Throughout the month of January, Dorrie was actively involved in fundraising through a 50/50 raffle, a Super Bowl Basket raffle, a chili cook off, a balloon pop game, Root Beer Float Day, and TAN citation day. Employees were able to bundle for a flat price of $20 to receive access to each of these activities.

A big thank you to Dorrie and the Travel Advantage Network employees who helped donate towards this charitable cause. To find out more information about the 100 Club of Anne Arundel County, you can visit their official website here.

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 www.measuringworth.com, 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.

(Source: https://www.growyourgiving.org/giving-blog/brief-history-giving)