Guest post by Lydia Walshin, founder/director, Drop In & Decorate: Cookies for Donation
As the founder of Drop In & Decorate: Cookies for Donation, a nonprofit organization that encourages people to play with squeeze bottles of icing and sprinkles, and even permits taste-testing and finger-licking afterwards, I’ve learned a few things about having fun while doing good:
- Volunteering should be fun.
- Volunteering at work makes work more fun.
- Employees who have more fun work harder, and are happier at their jobs.
- Employees who volunteer as a team, and have fun doing it, work better as a team.
- Everyone loves cookies.
Drop In & Decorate® events bring people together to decorate and donate cookies to nonprofit agencies in their own community that address the basic human needs of food or shelter.
Co-workers bake cookies (at home or at work, depending on the facilities available), and get together to decorate the cookies with bright colored icing. The decorated cookies go to food pantries, emergency and domestic violence shelters, Ronald McDonald Houses, and agencies providing food and shelter to families and children. Smiles for everyone!
Lucia Watson organizes an annual event at her workplace. “Every December,” she explains, “my co-workers and I decorate dozens of cookies for donation with our clients at a neuro-rehab facility. Six or eight colleagues volunteer to bake a batch or two of cookies. In fact, they start asking in the early Fall, ‘Are we going to decorate cookies again?’ Each year it gets easier to organize, as staff are eager to be a part of this valued tradition.”
It’s a great workplace community service activity (see #5, above): you can stop by and decorate a few cookies on your lunch hour, and you get to eat any broken cookies for dessert.
HOW TO GET STARTED
To get started planning your own workplace event, download the free how-to guide on our site. Then, look in Tips and Techniques for three short articles about how to organize an event at work: what you’ll need, how to connect with an agency for donation, wrapping and packing, and more.
Ted Chaloner owns a recruiting firm in Boston’s South End. Last year his employees joined members of the Boston Ballet (also South End based) in an event that decorated cookies for a neighborhood domestic violence shelter. “More and more, he says, “companies are realizing that the opportunities we all have to connect, collaborate, and make a difference in our world have never been greater. However, it can't be only on Facebook and Twitter. Drop In & Decorate – and the simple gift of handmade cookies – connects people with people. It can open the door to greater understanding of the community’s needs and a beneficial relationship between companies and their nonprofit neighbors.”
For an example of the long-term bonds that can form, please read this 2008 interview with a volunteer who hosts workplace events in Champaign, Illinois. Jenna has now organized half a dozen events, all benefiting the same local men’s shelter.
For questions, advice, or help finding a recipient agency near your workplace, please email to me (lydia AT dropinanddecorate DOT org), or contact us through our web site .
Now, really, could workplace community service be any sweeter? (See #5, above.)
Related Post: Neighborhood Food Pantries and How to Find Them