be_ixf;ym_202406 d_22; ct_50 YES! I want to make a difference TODAY!

AT&T Believes at Home – Virtual Event #2 (2020)- An Alternative Way of Doing Service 

For our second Team Care Force virtual event, we partnered with AT&T, getting a little creative in how we develop virtual service. Last spring, AT&T donated money to Care Force in order to hold five different physical service events in cities around the country. Unfortunately, those in-person events were canceled due to COVID-19. Instead, Care Force staff and AT&T collaborated to create a new vision moving forward.

Planning a virtual service event

In 2018, AT&T launched its program “AT&T Believes.” This program is committed to service through a localized effort to create positive change in communities. The program works to harness employee engagement and joins with local collaborators to drive impact forward. Through this initiative, AT&T engaged employees in their 19 Believe communities in “at home” service with local service partners. As part of this program, AT&T holds an annual equity conference in October and invited Care Force to join as a service option for their volunteers. Due to the pandemic and the new model of service, AT&T expected participation to be lower than in past years. As it turned out, AT&T saw a higher number of participants in virtual service, than ever before. One of the reasons our events were so successful was because of the design of our “ship and create” model. AT&T employees were able to participate in the service without worrying about procuring materials or finding a service partner that would accept and use the finished projects.

For this partnership with AT&T, our Care Force Team started packing 1,000 boxes at our headquarters in Boston to be shipped to volunteers, starting in mid-September. Each box contained six pencil pouches to decorate and pack with face masks, a pencil sharpener, pencils, pens, an eraser, sticky notes and age-appropriate writing utensils. Starting September 25, we received new volunteer names each week during their rolling registration process. As the names rolled in, we shipped boxes to volunteers and continued to do so for the next few weeks.

Preparing volunteers for virtual service

For the volunteer service component, volunteers would use Sharpie markers that were included to decorate the pouches before packing the pouches to send back. The new tracking label, a pre-paid stamp and return address were all included in the box, so once the service was complete, volunteers could just secure those three stickers and send it back in the mail. We started to receive boxes back at the City Year headquarters office in Boston as soon as one week after the first group of packages was sent out. As soon as we received those boxes, we began unboxing, processing and repackaging them to be sent out to our first service partner beginning on October 28.

To instruct volunteers how to complete the service, a video was created by Sam Sadlier, Care Force senior project manager, and shared with volunteers. The video showed how to unpack the box, decorate the pencil pouches, repack the pencil pouches and mail the box back to Care Force. If the video was not sufficient, the volunteers also had written instructions included in the box and were able to attend an optional webinar led by Chris Farzner, deputy director of Care Force. He went step by step through the process and answered volunteer questions. After the first group of participants joined the webinar on October 7, the project really gained momentum. It turned out that the volunteers in the first group sent the video instructions they received to other employees they knew in the company, causing more and more interest to serve in a virtual setting. At the end of registration on October 23, 744 employees had signed up to receive boxes. Chris then held two more webinars on November 5 and December 10 so that every volunteer, even those who signed up after the first registration ended, would be able to attend.

Creating impact that supports schools

After deciding on the project and how it would be set up, there was one final major question. Who will be receiving the school supplies? AT&T indicated they wanted to have an impact on their Believe communities. This led Care Force to suggest reaching out to schools that AT&T and Care Force have partnered with for service events in the past. So, Care Force staff reached out to the 16 school partners from AT&T events dating back to 2016. Out of those 16 partners, 10 of them were very excited to be receiving the pouches.

Overall, Care Force was able to engage 1,000 volunteers who created 6,000 pencil pouches, which were sent to 10 different schools across the country. Although it feels like we are living in the unknown, our hearts are warmed seeing that employees all over the country are so flexible and more ready than ever to volunteer their time to a great cause by helping students in need.

Related stories

Team Care Force member Andy Wilson shares some of his favorite things about traveling with Team Care Force.

Read more about My favorite things about traveling with Care Force

Care Force is proud to welcome seven new senior AmeriCorps members serving as project leaders on Team Care Force.

Read more about Welcome Team Care Force #16

Team Care Force ventures to East Palo Alto, California, in their yellow City Year jackets to prep and lead a...

Read more about Emerson Collective at EPA Bloomhouse

In October 2021, Noel Wuesthoff led Aramark volunteers in his first ever in-person event in Dallas and again a few...

Read more about Aramark Unites Against Poverty
National Strategic Partners
National Partners