Strategic Media, Inc. CEO Jeff Small has always been passionate about giving back. During the holidays, his unique approach to the Toys for Tots Program supports families in need while providing meaningful experiences to his employees.
Like many employers, Small invites his employees to donate a toy to the program. But at Strategic Media, Inc. a personal donation is where the fun begins! Employees who donate are divided into groups for a Toys for Tots shopping spree subsidized by SMI. Over a span of weeks, each group is excused for several hours to shop for toys and enjoy a group lunch at the restaurant of their choice.
Small has been subsidizing Toys for Tots shopping sprees since 2013. The event has become a unique way to combine giving back to the community with team-building, but it wasn’t envisioned that way.
“Honestly, this was way of donating to families that are not as fortunate. The benefit of teambuilding happened by default and turned out to be one of our favorite activities to do in small groups,” Small said.
He added that members of the team always enjoy the aspect of giving, but when they are able to make the toy selections they feel closer to the giving. “I find that the spirit of giving back to others is innate in all of us,” Small said. “There isn’t always the time or money to shop for others. When activities like these can be incorporated into our workday, time that is already accounted for, we all really enjoy being part of these opportunities.”
Martha Dumont, Billing and Collections Analyst, said, “I think one of the favorite parts of this program for me is to think of the delight that will be experienced by the kids receiving the gifts. We have such a wide range of people buying the gifts making for an interesting assortment of gift items! Some of the gifts remind me of how much fun my own kids had with a similar item. It brings back such warm memories for me!”
Ronnie-Lynn Bell, Executive Assistant, said SMI’s participation in Toys for Tots has a huge impact. “So many children who may have gone without at Christmas will have a toy. We’ve all been kids before and we know that excitement and joy. You never forget it so providing that to a child is immeasurable.”
Small’s unique approach to giving back also has special benefits for the company.
Anna McDavitt, Media Analyst, said, “We are so busy with our day to day lives it is a welcome break to come together and share in giving back. We have an opportunity to spend time with people from other teams that we may not see as frequently as our own team members.”
Employees look forward to SMI’s Toys For Tots shopping sprees each year. And thanks to Small’s generosity, employees are able to immerse themselves more fully in the spirit of giving.
“I love being a part of something so amazing,” said Bell. “The magic of Christmas through a kid’s eyes is awesome.”