We also select a local charity each year and encourage employees to make a donation. We assist in the collection and delivery of the donations, which in the past have benefitted Toys for Tots, a local veterans’ home, and the Salvation Army. Providing an easy way for employees to give back to the community and to remember those that are less fortunate reminds us of the true spirit of the holidays.
Finally, we have a year-round wellness initiative to promote healthy eating choices, encourage exercise, and help employees quit smoking. During the holidays, we focus on how to provide healthier alternatives for holiday meals and treats, strategies to avoid weight gain during the holidays, and ways to cope with the stress that can sometimes be a problem around this time of year.
Fort Worth, Texas
The T (Fort Worth Transportation Authority)
The T supports and encourages employees to participate in the usual workplace holiday activities. We decorate our lobby, provide turkey and other meat for an on-site covered dish lunch, make time for a large group “gift-trading” exchange, and endorse employee-led donations for Salvation Army “Angel Trees” and other employee holiday fund-raising.
But I believe our employees’ “feel-good” spirits reach their height during The T’s two holiday community involvement events. I think this is because they are highly visible activities that make employees feel part of a community-wide effort, and residents praise The T and its employee volunteers for helping to make the season brighter.
The first event is Fort Worth’s downtown Parade of Lights and Christmas Tree Lighting ceremony on the Friday after Thanksgiving. The T decorates one of its popular trolleys for the parade and assists in the event’s operations. It also sponsors widely publicized free bus service starting that afternoon to boost attendance and to help reduce traffic congestion.
The second event is The T’s annual Holiday Lights bus tour that includes pre-tour family holiday activities in partnership with the Fort Worth Stockyards where our buses depart. It is held the second Saturday and Sunday in December with up to 80 buses driving passengers through neighborhoods with more than 200 decorated homes. The neighborhoods’ organizers have carolers greet each bus, and costumed elves distribute candy canes to children. The $5 per person tour (free for ages 5 and under) also covers up to two hours of free preboarding festivities. These include visits and photos with Santa, face-painting, entertainment by a balloon artist, holiday music, hot chocolate and Christmas cookies. The Stockyards is decked out for the holidays as well, and The T helps promote shopping or dinner before and after the Holiday Lights event.
Participating in Holiday Lights feels like hosting a Christmas party and inviting the entire community. People start calling in September to be sure it will occur again. The positive feedback from residents and visitors who attend is a great boost to employee spirits. The T’s volunteers come from all areas of the agency – from bus operations to maintenance, customer service and administrative staff. This makes it a real employee bonding opportunity for our agency as well as an uplifting, festive community experience.
San Francisco, Calif.
San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA)
The San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA) begins this holiday season with its annual toy drive, November 8 through December 9. The toy drive was started by the Agency’s traffic enforcement division in 1997 to share some of the joy of the season with children who are cared for through the San Francisco General Hospital (SFGH) Volunteer Center and the SFGH Community Health Centers. The children cared for by SFGH come from low-income families. Last year the SFMTA mobilized 15 collection locations and donated 630 new, unwrapped toys.
For the past 28 years, the operators and mechanics of San Francisco’s most recognizable icon, the cable car, have celebrated the season with San Francisco’s seniors by hosting a holiday lunch. The Cable Car Holiday Seniors Lunch, prepared and served by SFMTA cable car staff, provides a warm, festive holiday meal for seniors from throughout the City. The Cable Car Division employees organize and prepare the lunch with the help of several generous local businesses.