A Season for Giving Back: Property Charity Events Ideas


The apartment industry has traditionally been a big participator in charitable endeavors, especially when it comes to this time of the year.

Later this month, the Apartment Association of Metro Denver will host its “Ugly Holiday Sweater & Comedy Night Power Mixer” to benefit pediatric brain tumor research. Members are urged to dig out those gaudy holiday sweaters that usually go right back in the gift box when the relatives leave. This time of year, housing providers, associations and suppliers donate generously to help the needy, even if means getting a few laughs at their own expense.

Chris Lee is no stranger to giving. He’s written personal and company checks over the years on behalf of Earthworks DFW, for AAGD & AATC charities, and projects at the Union Gospel Mission. In recent years, he has headed Toys for Tots drives for AAGD and the Apartment Association of Tarrant County, and routinely is asked to speak about helping others.

On a recent afternoon, Lee passionately held court before a group of vendor members of AAGD at a local watering hole. He was fast to remind folks that giving doesn’t necessarily have to come from the pocket book.

“Too often people think it takes a lot of money to make a difference, maybe money they don’t have,” he said as he paced back and forth. “It isn’t always about money. It’s doing something that may directly or indirectly have an effect on someone’s life, someone less fortunate.”

Lee later recalled about six years ago while helping manage a struggling landscape business in Texas that he felt a higher calling to give back to the community. There was more to life than chasing profits and material possessions, he thought. His plan was to help build houses for Habitat for Humanity so that the less fortunate could have shelter.

A friend, however, cautioned that showing up at a job site with a hammer in his hand would put Habitat for Humanity back six months. He suggested that Lee instead focus on leveraging his work with Earthworks to help lay the foundation for a charitable network, just through the normal course of business.

In time, the business was in position to donate a significant amount of money to charity, but the greater value, Lee says, has been perpetuating a trickle-down effect to giving that goes year-round.

“It’s networking, putting people in touch,” he said. “You get a connection. There are a lot of people who want to give but don’t know how. If you can give me two sheets of plywood and 20 guys on the 15th, we can do some great things. Sometimes it can be that simple, making a phone call, showing up to help out, or donating $5 to Toys for Tots.”

Last year, he estimates that 35,000 kids got a toy from the collective efforts of the associations.

Elsewhere, each year the apartment associations in Dallas and Tarrant County rally around Toys for Tots to help ensure that needy children get a toy for Christmas. And since 1998, the New Jersey Apartment Association has hosted a big toy party in December for more than 1,000 kids.

Much of the gratification, too, is helping others understand that no contribution is too small. Nobody brags about how much money is raised or the number of toys given (or holiday sweaters that come out of exile). Charitable giving isn’t measured by statistics, but by the impact it makes, no matter how big or small. And it doesn’t have to be measured in dollars and cents.

What are some ways you’re giving back at your property?


Contributing Editor, Property Management Insider
President, Ballpark Impressions, LLC

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Tim Blackwell is a long-time publishing and printing executive in the Dallas/Fort Worth area who writes about the multifamily housing and transportation industries. He has contributed numerous articles to Property Management Insider, and worked as a newspaper reporter in the D/FW area. Blackwell is president of Ballpark Impressions, and publishes the Cowcatcher Magazine. He is a member of the Fort Worth Chapter/Society of Professional Journalists.

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