Around the holidays, it is heart-warming to see people step up to assist others in need.
The employees at the Marine Biological Laboratory in Woods Hole, Massachusetts are a great example of those helping others in their community. Each year they organize an Adopt-a-Family Program to give back. The program includes opportunities to sponsor individuals, collect gifts and provide holiday meals.
“Our Adopt-a-Family program started out as a Giving Tree where I hung ornaments with the names and ages of children who needed Christmas sponsors on our department Christmas tree,” says Kelly Holzworth, Ecosystems Center Administrator at the Marine Biological Laboratory. “People would select a child and sign-up on a list that was taped to my office door. I would then hand them the child’s wish list and clothing sizes. It was one tree within my department and was easy to control and monitor.”
Over time, this wonderful program started to grow as staff interest increased. Opportunities such as this are ways to unite staff and make MBL a stronger institution so it made sense to expand the program. But just like anything, as the program grew, details were more challenging to keep track of.
“The one tree then expanded to three that all resided in different departments on campus. Since I had help in the other departments, it was still somewhat manageable, but there was always those couple of good souls that selected a child to sponsor but forgot to write their name on the list. I knew I needed some type of online system to keep things organized,” says Holzworth.
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In need of a system that could help her manage her volunteers, Holzworth searched online for a solution. After reviewing a couple options, she decided SignUpGenius was just what their group needed. The system would allow employees to browse through all the individuals they could sponsor and see wish lists ahead of time, and would therefore greatly reduce the amount of time Holzworth would spend responding to questions about specifics. After making the switch to SignUpGenius, she saw immediately that she was not only saving valuable time, but she was seeing far fewer mistake made by staffers with good intentions. SignUpGenius helped her to organize the Adopt-a-Family program from start to finish.
Admittedly, prior to using SignUpGenius, Holzworth was concerned her volunteers would be put off using an online system. “I think some folks are understandably concerned about an online sign-up system because they don’t want their volunteers to have to create accounts, or get a lot of spam because of it, or be pressured into buying something from a company. NONE of that happens with SignUpGenius and once they see that for themselves, they see that the possibilities are endless of how this site could help them and they really like all that it has to offer.”
Holzworth is thrilled that now with the help of SignUpGenius their group is able to sponsor more families than ever before. “This year we sponsored 54 individuals from 19 families and collected over 160 presents for them. And it is in giving that we receive so our employees benefit as well. There is at least one department that uses this program as part of their holiday festivities. They will go out shopping together, then out to lunch, and will then return and wrap the presents together. I don’t know how long something has to be done before it’s considered a tradition, but I think this department views it as a tradition now and SignUpGenius helps make that happen.”
Generous hearts deserve generous thanks. The staff at SignUpGenius would like to say “thank you” to individuals like those at the Marine Biological Laboratory for all of the amazing ways they help others.