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Amy Campbell

Amy Campbell
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acampbell@vpico.com

What's Your Holiday Giving Plan?

Teri L. Lanza Comments
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Every year, Guardian Self Storage of New York participates in drive to collect clean, gently used winter coats and jackets to donate to those in need. Conducted by Poughkeepsie, N.Y.-based organization Dutchess Outreach, the drive resulted in the collection and distrubution of 5,000 coats in 2007.

Kevin Howard Real Estate of Portland, Ore., holds an annual drive to collect canned goods each holiday season. Last year, the company and the 60 self-storage facilities it manages throughout Oregon and Washington collected 8,900 cans, which were distributed through local churches, food banks and agencies. Self-storage tenants get $1 off their monthly rent for donations of up to 10 cans, though many cans are donated regardless of the rent credit. This will be Kevin Howard's 18th year of running the campaign.

I share this info with you as a demonstration of how simple your holiday-giving program can be. It need not be complicated or extreme, and you needn't go it alone—partnering with local charitable organizations makes sense. For example, why not offer up a couple of free units to serve as storage for your local Toys for Tots campaign? Get in touch with United Way to see what collection efforts it may need assistance with in your area. The list of nationally recognized and accessible charities is diverse and extensive.

Think about what's important to you, and choose a cause that makes a statement about who you are. Then follow through with the effort. If you don't currently engage in a holiday-fundraising or charity-type endeavor, this is the year to begin! In the current economic climate, there are many more people experiencing hardship than in recent years. Now is the time to reach out and make an impact in your community.

And let's be frank: We're not just talking altruism here. There is a practical aspect to consider, too. Holiday-giving programs create wonderful opportunities for public relations and marketing in addition to their philanthropic benefits. For example, Guardian Self Storage was featured in this week's Times Herald-Record in relation to its coat drive.

So once you launch your existing or new holiday initiative, don't be afraid to contact the press and chamber of commerce. Contact your local newspapers and radio stations, particularly if your program culminates in a celebratory event, like a holiday party with a live Santa Claus!

Again, the value of charitable programs is multi-fold: First and foremost, you assist people in need. Second, you create an opportunity to reach out and connect with your community, which is, after all, your existing and prospective customer base. Finally, it allows your business to shine. Show the world the make of your medal and get your facility noticed.

The holiday season is officially upon us, so don't tarry. If you're the facility decision-maker, assemble your team and choose your holiday venture. If you're lower on the totem pole, bringing this idea to your owner or manager is a fantastic display of goodwill and initiative.

Whatever your plan, I wish you great success. Please share your holiday ideas with our blog readers! Simply click on the "post comment" link below. Thanks!

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