As we move into the holiday season, it’s time for many of us to think about how to give back to those who have made our year successful.
We reached out to agents and brokers to find out what they’re doing to give back to their communities this year. Here’s what they shared.
1. Making sure families and the less fortunate aren’t hungry
Lesa Darnell, Action Realty in Sebastian, Florida
We are gathering turkeys and all the trimmings for 66 local families with high school students this year. We will also be collecting items for our local Seniors through Council on Aging.
2. Educating the masses
Neeta Sujata Durai, Chennai Dream Homes
Even though we don’t celebrate Thanksgiving in India, our small team of three always use the holidays and year end period to show gratitude to our past clients and existing leads via email.
This time, because we want to provide even more value before someone selects us for a transaction, we are planning to offer a content freebie called “Holiday Safety Tips for Home Owners” to remain top-of-mind. This helps to center us and serves as a reminder of why we are in business.
3. Helping small businesses
Marilyn Blume, Warburg Realty in New York City, New York
I am an active member of TAP where I am a consultant to small businesses. TAP works with small businesses, entrepreneurs and municipalities to accelerate growth and help local economies thrive.
4. Volunteering at soup kitchens
Steven Gottlieb, Warburg Realty in New York City, New York
I’ve worked at soup kitchens for many years in the fall and winter season. It’s a nice way to give back, interact with those less fortunate and better understand how lucky some of us are to have warm meals. I also like to catch up over coffee or drinks with old clients, most of whom have become friends.
5. Appreciating clients
Sherri Malone, Coldwell Banker in Somers New York
I am participating in an office client appreciation party that we hold for our clients — past, current and future.
I personally invite just a few vendors or special people who I think could benefit from meeting other agents in my office for a bit of networking. It’s an opportunity for giving thanks to my clients who I absolutely adore. They’re what keeps me in this business!
Our office as a whole, participates in Friends of Karen, Support Walk and SPCA events throughout the year to give back to the community and those in need.
6. Running a food drive
Christopher Totaro, Warburg Realty in New York City, New York
I run the Ronald McDonald House Parents Pantry food drive at PS 150 and also do a community giveback day through the school with my son.
We write holiday cards that are distributed to people who are part of the Meals on Wheels program.
7. Giving time
Noemi Bitterman, Warburg Realty in New York City, New York
Giving gifts is great but giving others your time and genuine gratitude is how I like to make a difference. I invite those that I cherish for lunch, dinner or a quick cup of coffee to connect and spend quality time together.
8. Rescuing animals
Vanessa Saunders, Global Property Systems in New York
We will be sending friends, clients, relatives and business associates an offer to pay for the adoption of a rescue dog or cat of the recipients choice from any of the shelters in our area.
I personally believe the saying that has become popular recently regarding rescues — that we are the ones who ultimately are rescued by the dogs and cats we adopt. The gratitude goes both ways.
[Here] is a photo of our two “fearful” rescues, Dobbie and Harry, who are happily no longer fearful having [been] rescued by Global Property Systems and are a fixture in our office, greeting everyone who comes to visit with glee and snoozing happily on their own sectional in between the many walks offered by our staff each day.
9. Donating food
Gerard C. Splendore, Warburg Realty in New York, New York
Donating food to the food pantry for Thanksgiving baskets.
10. Participating in local drives
Aroosa Rauf, RE/MAX Presidential in Aventura and Pembroke Pines, Florida
We regularly contribute to and support our local communities in South Florida.
We recently completed the annual back to school drive for both Miami Dade and Broward county schools by donating school supplies, book bags, and much more.
Toward the end of the year, our office has been participating in the Annual Toy Drive with the Angel Tree program. We normally donate hundreds of toys annually to the kids.
11. Donating commission for fresh housing
Carl Medford, Keller Williams Benchmark Properties in Fremont, California
Our team’s mission is: “To provide unparalleled real estate experiences, transforming clients into raving fans who partner with us in providing fresh starts locally and globally.”
To accomplish this, we take a part of every commission we receive and put it into our charitable fund. At the end of the transaction our clients are asked to choose which of the approved charitable organizations we support will receive the funds we are giving from their transaction.
Last year we contributed $45,000 to organizations locally and abroad that include a “fresh start” housing component in their stated purpose. This year our goal is to dramatically increase that number.
12. Donating dough and giving pies
Melinda Schnur, Mosaic Residential Powered by Keller Williams in Falls Church, Virginia
Money is only good for the good that money can do is what I’ve been taught. My husband and I give money to Children’s Miracle Network and KW Cares out of every transaction that I close. Our big goal as a family is to contribute $500,000 to the Children’s Miracle Network.
This year, for our clients, we will give out Thanksgiving pies, thanking them for the opportunity to be of service and giving thanks for the special part they’ve played in our lives and business.
13. Keeping families warm
Jamohl DeWald, Keller Williams Realty Professionals in Portland, Oregon
I have given to Coats for Kids Foundation (now Operation Warm) since I found out about it. They give new and slightly used hats, coats, and gloves to children at the local school. I have several friends who work at Nike, and I collect items throughout the year to give to this cause.
My family also donates all of our coats in our closet that are not being worn anymore. We have a 2-year-old and a 5-year-old, so we usually have a pretty good mixture of stuff to give. The local dentist who organizes it every year is a past client and just really good people so we are happy to contribute.
14. Taking care of the kids
Melissa Samar, Picket Fence Realty in Tavares, Florida
I am a proud volunteer and board member for Feed the Soul Lake County. Each year for Thanksgiving and Christmas, Feed the Soul holds a community event to which everyone is invited.
We serve a full holiday feast, and at Christmas, we get donated toys to give to area children in need. We get the kids names from local schools (they may be on food assistance for lunch or other school programs). Area volunteers become their “Secret Santa” and deliver toys for distribution on Christmas Eve.
Also at our Christmas event last year, we had a table of fun gifts for kids to pick out for their parents. This way, the children get to show appreciation for mom and dad.
Meals for the holidays are for people who might not have a meal to eat but also for those in the community who might be spending the holiday alone. These folks generally donate portions of the meals and volunteer to help serve it.
It is a wonderful way to bring people from all walks of life together and a great way to ensure kids have gifts to open on Christmas morning!
15. Handwriting gratitude
Brandon Doyle, RE/MAX Results in Maple Grove, Minnesota
A lot of agents will send greeting cards or give out pies around the holiday, but not as many take the time to hand write individual messages to the people they know.
Genuine handwritten notes let people know that you’re thinking of them and care enough to take the time to write them something personal, especially in the age of digital mass messaging.
16. Sleeping on the street for a cause
Sarah M. Drennan, Terrie O’Connor Realtors in Newark, New Jersey
Consistently recognized as a company that cares, Terrie O’Connor Realtors has organized multiple opportunities to “give back” this holiday season.
Thursday, Nov. 21, 28-plus agents, brokers and even our broker-owner, Terrie O’Connor, slept out on the streets of Newark, New Jersey, to benefit Covenant House New Jersey and the thousands of kids they help off the streets each year. This will be our third Executive Sleepout, raising more than $125,000 for the organization over three years from our company alone.
Additionally, Terrie O’Connor Realtors has sponsored a Thanksgiving food drive to benefit the Center for Food Action, Mahwah and St. Peter’s Haven (food pantry), Clifton, New Jersey. Sunday, Nov. 24, we sponsored a Family Day of Service at St. Peter’s Haven where a dozen Realtors and their children and families will help stock the shelves at the food pantry.
On behalf of our local association, Greater Bergen Realtors, four of our branch offices are collecting new and gently used winter coats to benefit Jersey Cares. The collection runs through November.
Each year, agents attending the company holiday party are asked to bring an unwrapped toy or children’s pajamas. The donations are then delivered to Oasis, a haven for women and children in Paterson, New Jersey.
Service is at the core of our company culture. Our agents truly care about the communities in which we live and work. We welcome every opportunity to give back.
17. Preparing Thanksgiving meals
Rebecca Slaughter, Atlas Real Estate in Colorado Springs, Colorado
Every year, Atlas Real Estate’s Colorado Springs office seizes the opportunity to hold a Thanksgiving drive to give back to our Atlas community. We are humbled daily by the kindness of others. We meet people from all walks of life and in different personal situations, and our office strives to build a positive relationship with every person we work with.
We are excited to have these opportunities to give back to those that need a hand. Providing a Thanksgiving meal to those that may not otherwise have one is our small way of providing a little bit of happiness this season.
If you see someone without a smile, give them one of yours.
Last year, my team and I went shopping for food and made deliveries to families and individuals in need of a Thanksgiving meal. We provided a full Thanksgiving meal to over 30 families, from turkey and sides to pies for dessert.
We also saw so many smiles during that drive and those deliveries. It was humbling and beautiful. We are truly grateful for the opportunity to do it again this year.
18. Sending love to The Bahamas
The Sklar Team, Coldwell Banker Residential Real Estate Florida in Weston, Florida
The Sklar Team of Weston, Florida, is hosting an event at one of [our] luxury listings in the Weston Hills Country Club neighborhood on Thursday, Dec. 5. The event is being held to collect new unwrapped toys for children in The Bahamas who were affected by Hurricane Dorian.
The event has several sponsors donating raffle items, and if you bring a toy, you get a raffle ticket. Food and drinks will be served, and Santa will be at the event as well! A local photographer is also donating time and will be photographing the event free of charge.
Alison Pusey, team member of The Sklar Team, is a board member of Global Empowerment Mission and will be going to the Abaco Islands to personally deliver toys to the children along with Global Empowerment Mission.
19. Taking care of our animal friends
Phillip Salem, Triplemint in New York, New York
On a weekly basis, I volunteer at the local animal shelter in Soho called Animal Haven as well as take in fosters that are having a hard time coping in the shelter.
The holiday season is one of the busiest times at the shelter but when they have the least amount of volunteers. I try to go at least two to three times a week during the holiday season to help out to make sure the dogs at the shelter get as much care as needed.
Instead of the typical wine or champagne to clients as well, I donate in their honor to the shelter to help pay for expenses the shelter has during the holiday season as well.
20. Giving kids hope
David Bailey, Baird & Warner in Lincoln Park, Illinois
For over 10 years, the Lincoln Park office has supported Cornerstone Community Outreach through a holiday gift giving program.
Each year, we get together as an office and purchase holiday gifts for 70-plus children that are supported by the Cornerstone team. We are provided with an age, gender and “wish list” for the kids, and then our brokers take it from there.
It is truly a part of our culture, giving back and supporting those in our community. Each year, the event is organized by Lincoln Park broker Courtney Welsch. She’s not only a top-producing broker at B&W, but also the impetus behind our regular community involvement throughout the year.
21. Warming the community
Cristen Lincoln, Living Room Realty in Portland, Oregon
“I coordinate the brokerage’s annual Warm Coat Drive in partnership with non-profit Impact NW. This is the sixth year in a row we’ve hosted this coat drive to collect and deliver brand new coats to babies, children, adults, and seniors in need. We’ve collected and donated more than 1,000 new coats over the past six years.
We’re honored to partner with Impact NW again this year to assist their goal of preventing homelessness by supporting and empowering people. By donating brand new coats we’re not only sharing warmth with kids and community members in need, but helping support their self esteem.”
22. Giving a little ‘za to the community
Gilbert Morales and Jessica Meis, Compass, Queens NY
Two of Compass‘ Long Island City agents Gilbert Morales and Jessica Meis recently held a coat drive and pizza party in their neighborhood. As residents of Queens, they wanted to give back to the community – and as the temperatures continue to drop, this was a way to help ensure people in need received warm jackets.
How are you showing gratitude this year? Please share in the comments section below.
Christy Murdock Edgar is a Realtor, freelance writer, coach and consultant with Writing Real Estate. She is also a Florida Realtors faculty member. Follow Writing Real Estate on Facebook, Twitter, Instagr