Cisco Live attendee volunteers at the Social Impact Zone

Donations Flow to Community through Convention Center Events

When we talk about the "ripple effect" of the San Diego Convention Center, it's not just an economic one: it's a ripple of community giving. Major citywide conventions result in donations that benefit those in need throughout our region.

That's thanks to the efforts of meeting planners who bring their citywide conventions to the San Diego region. They make the effort to connect with local non-profits, then offer opportunities to their attendees through volunteering and giving back to our city.

Take for example, Cisco Live, the tech convention that brought a record-breaking 28,000 attendees to San Diego from June 8 through June 13. In addition to their product headlines, keynotes, trainings and educational sessions, the event's meeting planners dedicated an entire area to what they called, the "Social Impact Zone."

"Social impact is a really fundamental element for us. As a company, we take corporate social responsibility very seriously," said Heather Henderson Thomas, the Event Experience & Operations Lead for Cisco Live.
Cisco Live's Social Impact Zone at the San Diego Convention Center

Cisco Live organizers partnered with Give2Get, and identified four San Diego non-profits that would benefit from thousands of attendees volunteering through a series of projects. They included:

  • More than 100 hand-made blankets and furniture to be donated the San Diego YWCA and Townspeople
  • 1,250 basic need hygiene kits for Think Dignity
  • Feeding San Diego was another major beneficiary. According to the non-profit, the weekend meal boxes include food items such as: pasta, rice, beans, peanut butter, tuna, canned veggies, etc., which benefited other partner agencies, including the Salvation Army Chula Vista, Salvation Army Center City and Community Through Hope.

"Social impact is a really fundamental element for us. As a company, we take corporate social responsibility very seriously," said Heather Henderson Thomas, the Event Experience & Operations Lead for Cisco Live "By gathering attendees together when we're here in San Diego on various activities that will make a positive impact, we hope we can leave the city a little better place."

Conventions Create Acts of Kindness Throughout the Year

During a recent Sunday, hundreds of men and women received a gift made possible by the donations of Convention Center attendees. Local faith-based non-profit, the Ladle Fellowship was able to distribute more than 1,200 pairs of new socks that came directly from the Academy of Managed Care Pharmacy's community giving project. At the annual meeting, attendees were asked to donate to the host city (San Diego), and the AMCP's foundation chose the Ladle Fellowship to partner with. It's mission is to feed, clothe, mentor and provide medical screenings for those in need.

Attendees donated socks to benefit San Diegans in need.

This was the sixth time the AMCP's Foundation, a 501c3, had organized a sock drive. But San Diego was the first convention center ever to partner in the effort. When convention center staff heard about this effort, they pitched in their own donations.

"This year's sock donation breaks the record set last year in Boston," AMCP Foundation Executive Director Paula J. Eichenbrenner, MBA, CAE. "The San Diego Convention Center was instrumental in supporting this sock drive. These donations make a huge difference, as socks are always one of the most requested items for our community partners."

In addition to the socks, AMCP donated more than 200 tote bags.

"Not only do conventions create economic benefits for San Diego, but there are also these acts of kindness that you can't measure financially. It's an 'emotional bank account' that is filled by community giving," said Rip Rippetoe. "One of our core values here at the San Diego Convention Center is 'service.' Once our staff heard about the efforts of AMCP to collect socks for those in need in our community, and they jumped into action, saying, 'How can we help?'"

CASBO, the California Association of School Business Officials, was another recent event that organized a volunteer event during their 91st conference in April. Their teams organized a bag stuffing, which benefited Blessings in a Backpack. A total of 5,000 attendees were encouraged to stuff bags full of food items, hoping to make a difference in a child's life.

"Our goal was to fill 1,000 bags with food for children in San Diego to take home on a Friday night," said Molly McGee Hewitt, CAE, the CEO and Executive Director of the California Association of School Business Officials. "We can't do everything, but we can do something. We are grateful to our members and we are grateful to our sponsors."

In addition, CASBO also hosted a Community Service Day, where they re-furbished and renewed a school garden at Riley Alternative School, a special education school that's part of the San Diego Unified School District. Volunteers helped to build 12 new boxes for the school’s fruit and vegetable garden and painted them in blue and yellow — the school’s colors. They also worked side-by-side to build a new fence around the garden.

The San Diego Convention Center is a proud community partner and our staff also volunteers throughout the community, throughout the year. From volunteering our time to organizations like the USO San Diego, Mama's Kitchen and Operation Clean Sweep organized by the Port Tenant's Association, our team belives in giving back. Service is a core value here at your San Diego Convention Center.

Authored by Barbara Moreno

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