In 2012, a year in which the world was supposed to end, several devastating events made many people question their faith in humanity. In the wake of destruction and despair, business owners all over the country came out of the woodwork to touch the lives of others via corporate giving. Some made large-scale donations; others focused their generosity on just one individual. But all of these advocates of business philanthropy chose to make a difference and made the world a little brighter.
1. Celebrity makeup artists bring out a cancer patient’s beauty
Hair designer Christophe Saluzzo, makeup artist Johny Saade, and photographer Ty Watkins, as well as other volunteers, donated their time to dress up 21-year-old cancer patient Melissa Alfaro and made her feel like the goddess that she was. Although Melissa lost her battle in October 2012, her undeniable inner light shone bright and was captured by these artists, who normally work with high-profile celebrities. Watch Video
2. Corporate giving exemplified by the Lenovo CEO who gave away his $3 million bonus
You assume CEOs of major technology companies rake in big bucks, but do you ever think about what they do with the money? When Yang Yuanqing, the CEO of Lenovo, received his $3 million bonus in 2012, he gave it away. The recipients were the more than 10,000 junior level employees. These were assistants, receptionists, and production line workers, employees that are just as crucial to the company’s success as any executive. Maybe you have worked for that high-level executive who doesn’t acknowledge the existence of anyone lower on the corporate ladder. Yuanqing isn’t that guy; he recognizes that it takes every gear in the machine to help a business thrive.
3. A ten-year-old girl honored her father’s memory by serving dinner to the homeless on Christmas day
Gracie McNulty, who had lost her father in an accident earlier in the year, wasn’t sure how she was going to handle spending her first Christmas without him. So she turned her sorrow into something miraculous by leading her other family members in making Christmas dinner for 50 homeless people. Craig McNulty, Gracie’s father, had been hoping to open the family café for Christmas dinner before his fateful accident, and Gracie helped his final wish come true. She remembered her father as someone who had always been so generous to others, and she wanted to make him proud. She hopes to carry on this tradition of business philanthropy every year.
4. The Beanie Babies Billionaire helped a kidney patient fund her treatment
Jennifer Vasilakos is suffering from kidney failure. Unable to get a kidney transplant because of another medical issue, Vasilakos was hoping to go abroad for a stem cell treatment that might help her restore her kidney function. The only problem was that she couldn’t afford it. In July 2012, she was holding a fundraiser to bring in money for a stem cell treatment she hoped to undergo when Ty Warner, the creator of Beanie Babies collectibles, drove by and asked for directions. He made a $50 donation on the spot when he found out what the fundraiser was for. A few hours later, he returned, telling Vasilakos that he was going to donate enough money to fund her treatment. Sure enough, a few days later, Vasilakos received a check for $20,000 at her office and was able to go through with the stem cell treatment.
5. A Canadian hospital went above and beyond to grant a dying man’s wish
Val and her boyfriend, Rob, were on vacation when Rob began feeling sick. What turned out to be a cancerous brain tumor changed their lives forever. He checked into the regional hospital and found out that he only had six weeks to live. The couple was devastated. They never even had the chance to marry. The hospital staff felt like they needed to do something to help, so they rounded up a wedding dress, hairstylist, photographer, and flowers. They decorated Rob’s hospital room, helped gather the necessary paperwork, and Val and Rob were married. “Even if it’s for six minutes with that person, live with them, make them happy, make yourself happy,” said Val, who referred to the staff at the hospital as angels.
6. Free kid haircuts – J.C. Penney helped parents save a buck
In the midst of a season filled with losses and enormous sales drops, J.C. Penney introduced its customers to an exciting new service, a promotion that didn’t even bring in any direct sales. In August, the company offered free haircuts for children from kindergarten through sixth grade. More than 1.6 million customers took advantage of this offer, one that gave parents one less hassle to deal with during the back-to-school season and helped families save money, a huge value in the 2012 economy. Although the company didn’t directly benefit from the promotion, executives decided to make it an ongoing program, continuing to offer free haircuts for kids once a week.
7. Lego surprised a boy with Asperger’s Syndrome with an out-of-production set
Ten-year-old James Groccia loves Legos. In fact, he is part of a Lego playgroup and owns several sets. A few years ago, he set his sights on a particular Lego train set. For two years, he saved every penny he earned so he could buy the set. However, when he finally saved up the $100 it took to purchase the set, he found out that it was no longer in production. James was crushed, and he wrote to employees of the Lego company, asking them if they had any ideas for a way he could get his hands on the set he so coveted. A few weeks later, an unmarked cardboard box was delivered to his doorstep. Inside was the Lego set he had saved his money for, accompanied by a heartfelt letter from the company.
8. A restaurant owner gave her hair to children
When Pavla Glovcikova, owner of Sunshine Crepes, learned that she needed chemotherapy treatment for her cancer, she took a drastic step: she cut off all her hair. The salon that gave her the dramatic haircut not only helped Glovcikova donate her locks to Children with Hair Loss, the salon’s owner donated her time and talent for the cause.
9. A hotel helped shelter hundreds of fire victims
In July, a severe fire in St. Louis left approximately 200 people without homes. Before arrangements could be made for their accommodations, workers at a local Holiday Inn hotel stepped up. Hotel employees sent a shuttle to the scene of the fire and let the victims know they would house them for free. The hotel’s generosity was delivered without prompting; no one had asked the company to lend a hand.
10. 2.3 million dollars worth of donations raised by gamers
In the month of December, all of the money made from sales of Cinderkitten, a World of Warcraft in-game pet, was donated to relief efforts from hurricane Sandy. Gamers eagerly supported this mission, and the company raised more than $2.3 million in relief funds.
11. Fifteen companies donated money, time, products, and services to victims of hurricane Sandy
When a natural disaster strikes, companies and individuals often gather quickly to send money to disaster relief efforts. After hurricane Sandy hit the northeast, fifteen major companies made sure the less obvious needs of the victims were taken care of. Among the companies were U-Haul, Home Depot, J.P. Morgan Chase, and others. U-Haul offered a month of free storage for victims. Home Depot donated and shipped supplies to affected areas. J.P. Morgan Chase gave account holders a grace period so they could make late payments without accruing penalties. CVS Caremark donated more than $100,000 worth of supplies to the Red Cross. Kohl’s urged its employees to help with relief efforts. Chevrolet donated several vehicles to the Red Cross for relief assistance.
12. A small-business owner gathered boxes of love to send to the victims of the Sandy Hook Elementary shooting
Gaby Merediz, the owner of Tmuffin, a creative playspace in Wilmington, NC, couldn’t stop thinking that there was something she could do when she heard about the December shootings in Newtown, CT. She was devastated and, like most of the nation, wondered what this world was coming to. In an attempt to combat the cynicism and bring some support to the Newtown community, Merediz encouraged teachers, parents, families, and children all over town to create “heart art” –artwork with a heart-centered theme. Schools and families all over town responded, sending poetry, letters, and profound artwork that was shipped to the Newtown community. After speaking with the Connecticut Parent Teacher Student Association, Merediz was told that the heart art would be displayed in the Sandy Hook students’ new school. She sent about 1,000 pieces of artwork created by kids and adults of all ages to the Newtown community. “We’re sending them our hearts,” she said.