Friday, January 8, 2010

eBay It Forward - Employees and Local Community Raise Items and Funds for Charity with eBay Giving Works

SLC employees kick-off the new year by selling items through eBay Giving Works with proceeds going toward helping the local community

After a year of making huge strides in community involvement, eBay SLC decided to end 2009 by engaging the employee population with the local community.

But the question stood: how could eBay help connect nearly 1,400 employees with the community; help the community connect with one another; give back to an amazing local charity; and, in typical eBay fashion, create something unique which had never been done before? Enter "eBay it Forward."

The eBay it Forward experience called for individuals to focus on what they want to share with others and bring forward to 2010 — the things which meant the most to them and for which they are most grateful. Participating individuals, families and groups were asked to look back through the year and identify an important personal item which improved their lives, created joy, provided comfort or maintained happiness during 2009. Then, using eBay Giving Works, the community could share their items with other community members who made need the same joy, comfort or happiness that these items provided their previous owners in 2009.

Calling on the community
Although the experience of sharing ones most precious items is fulfilling in and of itself, eBay SLC wanted to find a way to connect the community and bring these stories to life.

So, community members were asked to bring their items to the eBay it Forward pavilion in SLC to be put on display, along with handwritten notes telling each objects story.

Together, the objects and their heart-warming histories created a large-scale installation displaying the community’s most valuable possessions. Here the beginnings of eBay echoed, as the visual of people connecting with one another while exchanging items, interests and stories came to life. Not to mention it carried the sustainable aspect of giving pre-owned items a new life.

Community "art" display
eBay it Forward officially kicked off Dec. 28 with a sneak preview event for eBay employees and invited members of the SLC community. The goal was to prepare the community “art” display for the official opening and stock the shelves with items for the public to see when the door opened on Dec. 29.

After appearing in multiple news outlets, eBay was hopeful for a huge turnout. Despite harsh weather conditions, the community came and the shelves began to fill up with New Year’s treasures. One community member brought a collection of stuffed animals he and his wife had bought for the children they hoped to foster. However, his wife became sick and their dream of a home full of foster children was no longer a reality. So, they decided eBay it Forward was the perfect way to pass these items on to children who could love them and help out a great local charity in the process.

Most stories associated with the donated items pulled at the heart strings and required a tissue to read. One of eBay’s own employees, Jillene Prolo, a customer solutions agent, donated a necklace she bought from one of her favorite stores because all the proceeds were being donated to cancer research. Three members of her family had been affected by cancer: herself, her father and her grandfather (whom she lost several years prior). The necklace had three silver rings she felt represented these three people. She and her father beat the cancer and therefore wanted to pass on her “good luck charm” to someone else who may need it in 2010.

The start of a new tradition?
Nearly 200 items and amazing stories like these were collected to share with the community, with items ranging from stuffed animals to golf shoes to a Blue-Ray DVD player.

Even employee volunteers turned out in droves to help because they felt it was important to the community, with many of them bringing items and stories of their own to add to the project. “It was an amazing chance for employees to really get out and interact face-to-face with members of the community in which they work,” said J.D. Norton, senior specialist, events and awards. “And, they absolutely loved doing so. For three and a half days, they gave eBay and eBay Giving Works a smiling face in the Salt Lake community. Hopefully, this will become a New Year’s tradition.”

The fundraising goal for eBay it Forward 2009 is $10,000 for the designated charity. Items are currently in the process of being listed on eBay Giving Works, with the first batch of items being listed on Jan. 9, with a new batch going up weekly. All items are listed under the user ID: eBayitForwardSLC or can be found by doing a title search for “EIF”.

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