Looking back, it seems inevitable that Tony Heath and I would become friends. I first met Tony, a long-time employee at UPS, through the United Way Corporate Volunteer Council, which is an organization dedicated to increasing the collective impact of employer volunteer programs in our region.
He and I had something big in common: We work for organizations with two of the largest volunteer programs in the Philadelphia region. More importantly, UPS and Independence Blue Cross associates share a commitment to making a positive impact in our communities.
Budding Friendship, Collective Impact
As our friendship grew, so did our interest in collaboration. We knew that by working together, we could bring together two passionate groups of volunteers to make a significant impact in our region. After some brainstorming, we decided to come together in support of Message of Hope, an organization focused on delivering hope and joy to hospitalized children with special needs or chronic or life-threatening illnesses.
UPS has been a longstanding supporter of Message of Hope, providing sponsorship, volunteer, and logistical support by delivering the packages throughout the region. And volunteers from the Blue Crew, Independence Blue Cross’s volunteer organization, give back in a multitude of ways, with organizations that support children, health, and well-being among the top causes. As such, the mission of Message of Hope aligned with the work of both of our volunteer programs.
In 2017, the Blue Crew and UPS teamed up for the first time in support of Message of Hope, with Tony inviting the Blue Crew to the UPS Customer Center, one of their regional shipping and distributions hubs in Philadelphia. This large space was able to hold the more than 150 UPS and Blue Crew volunteers who came together to assemble “Happy Hope Kits,” which are therapeutic activity packages for the Message of Hope children.
The energy and camaraderie of our volunteers was on display throughout the day, as we came together for this special cause. We also had some fun, creating a friendly competition between the Blue Crew and UPS to see which team could assemble more kits throughout the day. UPS then used their resources to distribute the packages — our output from the day was delivered to local Ronald McDonald Houses and local children’s hospitals.
See You Next Year!
Our joint volunteer effort in support of Message of Hope was so successful that we decided to build on the momentum and make it an annual event. In fact, it’s grown into one of the largest projects that the Blue Crew does throughout the year!
This past April, we completed our second annual Message of Hope project, with more than 200 volunteers. It was exciting to see our efforts and impact continue to grow — in addition to Blue Crew and UPS volunteers, we were joined by participants from Widener University, RevZilla, and the Girl Scouts of Southeastern Pennsylvania. Together, we created over 1,500 Happy Hope Kits for children throughout our region.
This volunteer project has been a fantastic example of the power of collaboration to drive positive impact. Our volunteers are mobilized, engaged, and committed to making a difference. It was so rewarding for Tony and me to help harness that energy and come together to give back to children and families in need throughout our region.
This project is just one example of the power of collective impact, and I’m excited it will continue to grow as an annual event. I look forward to continuing to collaborate with UPS and other volunteer programs to find new ways to best address the needs of our communities.