‘Tis the season for giving back

Maybe it’s the toasty fire we’re sitting by, or maybe it’s our hidden shmaltzy side, but we’re feeling all warm and fuzzy to see both our employees and our partners finding ways to give back to the community this holiday season. Several employees are choosing to use some of their 24 hours of annual Volunteer Time-Off, or VTO (getting paid to volunteer is a sweet, sweet perk of working at the ‘fly) this month, and a partner of ours is taking some of the revenue from December events and turning it over to nonprofit organizations they care about. After the jump, take a look at some of the least grinchy people and partners we know; hopefully they’ll inspire you to find your own way to spread the cheer this year.

Robyn & Yoli – Friends of the four-legged

Robyn and Yoli, members of our Marketing Services team (partners know and love them for designing their websites and helping them make the most out of their marketing dollars), used some of their VTO to provide a day of walks out on the town and affection at Family Dog Rescue, a non-profit rescue for dogs of all sizes and abilities, dedicated to providing all of the care, socialization and time needed in order to place a dog with the best family possible.

“All dogs experience stress in a shelter, no matter how clean and kind and well organized their space is,” says Yoli. “The best way to reduce shelter stress is to give each dog one-on-one time with a happy human, some time outside, exercise, and a chance to show who they really are.”

Jenn Hernandez – Preserving the past

Every December for the last four years, Jenn from our Client Support team partakes in a family tradition: supporting her grandfather’s nonprofit organization in their annual folklórico performance, entitled Nuestra Navidad. The nonprofit, Aztlán Academy in San Jose, CA, is one of the few in California dedicated to the advancement of Mexican and Chicano folk arts. Now in its 48th year, the sell-out event — which celebrates Mexican traditions and culture through dance — is held at the 500-cap Montgomery Theater downtown and attracts community members from all walks of life. As a long-time volunteer, Jenn wears many hats, from serving as official event photographer to assisting with hospitality and organizing a myriad of costumes and props. “I never realized before I started volunteering how much work goes into putting on an elaborate production like this,” she says. “Most people won’t have the chance to visit many regions of Mexico,” she adds. “I love helping bring my heritage to life for so many people — and being able to share this experience with my mom.”

A dancer prepares backstage…this one happens to be Jenn’s mom. Her grandfather, aunt, uncle, and cousins also participate.

R5 Productions – Gifts for good

R5 Productions’ Punk Rock Flea Market—the best place in Philly to find that perfectly weird and unique gift for someone—started as a fundraising event to help the company pay its insurance premium and various other costs of hosting shows in all ages DIY spaces. The last few years, the event grew tremendously and R5 found itself in the fortunate predicament of having excess money (too much money? When does that ever happen?), so they decided to donate the extra dollars to local and international charities. In the past year, they’ve donated $20,000. That number will be even higher after this month’s Punk Rock Flea Market, some of the proceeds from which will go to support Skateistan, a nonprofit that uses skateboarding as a tool to empower and transform the lives of girls in Afghanistan.

For Sean Agnew, who heads up R5 Productions, it’s all pretty simple: “I used to skate along time ago (in the mid-80s), and it’s still near and dear to my heart. When I saw this amazing video from Skateistan a few days before last year’s Punk Rock Flea Market, I instantly wanted to help. I figured there was no better use for the extra money than transforming the lives of a bunch of kids. Skateboarding + education and recreational opportunities for young women—how could you not contribute?!”

Spending for whacky gifts, and a good cause, at the Punk Rock Flea Market

Over at Union Transfer—another one of R5’s Philly venues—a group of do-gooding fans and star host Connor Barwin (a linebacker for the Eagles) raised $170k in a single night to rehab a local park in South Philly. Vice Sports captured it as part of a larger piece; check it out starting at minute 1:50.

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