Denver Bar Association
November 2004
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Giving and Good Fortune

One Firm's Creative Charity Contributions

Editor’s Note: This article continues the series inspired by DBA President Mary Jo Gross, where guest columnists write about their volunteer/charity involvement. Nancy Elkind is a partner in Stern and Elkind. She and Ken Stern have been partners since Nancy graduated from DU College of Law in 1979. Stern and Elkind specializes in Immigration and Naturalization Law.

Paralegals Mary Connin and
Todd Scheeval help with the raffle.
It’s that time of year again at our law firm. The staff Charity Committee has been formed. That means that from now until the end of the year there will be homemade breakfasts to buy on Monday mornings, lunch on Friday afternoons, and baked goods on Wednesdays. Our in-house Charity Auction was in mid-October, and I am sure there will be numerous other opportunities to spend money for charity in the next few months.

Every year, all of the employees of our small firm of 25 focus some of their attention on raising funds for chosen charities. It started about ten years ago, when we decided to adopt a needy family around the holidays and buy gifts for both the adults and children. We have done that every year since. Then, about five years ago, after my mother died, the staff wanted to make a donation to one of her favorite charities. Instead of just passing the hat, they decided to have a silent auction. I was very touched by these efforts, and was also amazed at how much money a small group could raise by selling stuff to one another.

Since everyone seemed to like the idea of firm-wide fund-raising, the staff formed a Charity Committee to start adding some structure to our efforts. Now, every year in late spring or early summer, we have an election to choose the firm’s charity. Anyone can post information about a favorite charity on the bulletin board, and then we cast ballots. In the past, we have selected the Heifer Project, the National Yiddish Book Center, Room to Read, the Pegasus Project, and the Lost Boys of Sudan. Once the charity is selected, the staff member who suggested it makes a presentation at a staff meeting about the work of the group.
The staff of Stern & Elkind gather at a local park
to participate in their live charity auction.

And then the fund-raising and the fun begin! For the next few months, somebody is always selling something around here. Often staff members will have theater
tickets, sports event tickets, or movie tickets they cannot use, so those will be raffled off for charity. In addition to the breakfasts, lunches and goodies mentioned above, the staff sells soft drinks. The pop is purchased in bulk and all of the profits go to the charity fund. Our big event is always the Charity Auction. Staff members donate services, crafts, food, and items for the home. Here’s where we get creative: one paralegal served homemade breakfast at someone’s desk for a week, another paralegal wrote and presented a poem appropriate to the purchaser for a week, a legal assistant prepared an Indian dinner at the winner’s home. There are homemade jams and chutney, stained glass windows, weekend getaways, hand-knit scarves—we have a very creative group. We usually raise well over $1,500 just at the auction. All of the charity activities bring in more than double that amount.

The staff of Stern &
Elkind gather at a local
park to participate
in their live charity

Once the fund-raising is over, usually at the beginning of December, we divide the money between the main charity and the holiday family. A check goes to the charity, and staff members shop for holiday gifts for the family, wrap them, and deliver them in person. We can then focus on our own families and good fortune for the rest of the year, and spend a few months at the office not raising funds for charity. By springtime, we’re ready to start all over again!

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