Each year, JHU's Office of Benefits & Worklife organizes a number of opportunities for employees to support meaningful causes that directly impact Baltimore City and its residents. In a year that brought everyone additional challenges, Johns Hopkins employees remained committed to supporting vulnerable residents of Baltimore during the holiday season.
In 2020, festive fundraising events, in-person volunteer opportunities, and celebratory ceremonies were placed on hold indefinitely. As the holidays approached, the season of giving brought momentary apprehension to the Worklife specialists who organize annual community engagement opportunities for Hopkins employees. However, with a quick shift to virtual giving, employees generously made sure these programs continued.
United Way of Central Maryland
October brought the launch of the annual employee giving campaign through a partnership with the United Way of Central Maryland. During the brief campaign, from mid-October through the end of December, more than $490,000 was raised by JHU employees. Contributions covered an array of initiatives, including the United Way's Covid-19 Response, Recover, Rebuild program; 211 help line; and homelessness prevention, to name a few. Employees could choose to designate their gifts to specific causes most important to them, through ongoing payroll deduction or as one-time gifts. The campaign total is expected to grow as last-minute donations are counted over the next few weeks, resulting in the university reaching its $500,000 goal.
Vernon Rice Memorial Turkey Drive
As October rolled into November and Thanksgiving approached, employees began donating in record numbers to the Vernon Rice Memorial Turkey Drive, through which the university partners with St. Anthony of Padua in Northeast Baltimore to provide food to families in need. This year more than 10,000 pounds of food—turkeys, collard greens, potatoes, and additional fixings—were provided to 800 Baltimore City families so that they could enjoy a bountiful holiday meal.
The annual Adopt-a-Family/Senior program connects university departments with community partners to help those who aren't expecting the comfort of gifts during the holiday season. Typically, beautifully wrapped gifts are transferred from departments to community partners, who then distribute the presents among their clients. This year, the pandemic caused limitations for in-person gift giving, but through online donations of gift cards, the program was able to thrive and exceed expectations. More than $30,000 was contributed through an online platform by nearly 300 employees, allowing 100 families to buy gifts for their children, and more than 50 seniors received gift cards, totaling $10,000.
The fall and winter seasons of community engagement are a reminder of JHU's long-standing commitment to Baltimore City and its residents. Once again, its employees put in the time, support, and follow-through to lift up those in need. The Office of Benefits & Worklife would like to thank everyone who participated in these programs and continues to do so, spreading the word and encouraging others. The act each person takes may feel small, but, as a whole, it is immense.