IICF Week of Giving About Helping, Hope and the Future Starts Oct. 10

October 2, 2015

Giving can go well beyond being a mere act of philanthropy.

That’s the thinking behind the upcoming Insurance Industry Charitable Foundation event from Oct. 10 through Oct. 17.

The IICF Week of Giving, formerly known as Volunteer Week, is the group’s most visible program that allows insurance industry professionals to take a leadership role in community involvement.

The program provides an opportunity for the insurance industry to come together for a united week, giving time, talent and resources to benefit local community nonprofits, its organizers say.

Connie Taylor, zone officer at The Navigators Group of Navigators, described the Week of Giving as an eight-day, industry-wide opportunity for individual volunteers to participate in three or more hours of volunteer service and nonprofit actives.

Taylor is leading the IICF Western Division’s Week of Giving efforts.

“It’s food banks, it’s delivering food to the elderly, it’s reading in local libraries or shelters, you can do Habitat for Humanity projects,” Taylor said. “It’s a broad range of people’s passions.”

Taylor said a theme from the popular book “Peaceful Warrior” can be found behind the Week of Giving.

“There’s no higher purpose than service to others,” Taylor said, adding, “There is no higher commitment than giving your time and this is an opportunity for us to do that.”

Week of Giving was founded in the Western Division in 1998 by the founders of IICF, and this year participation is expected to exceed 6,000 volunteers and more than 200 events in roughly 90 cities across the U.S.

The volunteer service areas are numerous, and include education, food, homeless and youth programs, as well as arts and literature, senior services, disaster preparedness, Taylor said.

“What we want to do is make a significant difference in a couple of key areas,” she added.

IICF is also the group behind the popular charitable venture, Every Day is a Reading and Writing Day.

With the goal of encouraging early childhood reading, IICF and Sesame Workshop, the nonprofit organization behind Sesame Street, promote Every Day is a Reading and Writing Day at events nationwide and reach out to families and volunteers through local and national programming.

The initiative from IICF and Sesame Street is in response to the wide gap in literacy rates that prevails between children of high and low-income families, according to the groups.

To help promote the event, the groups typically pick community centers in poor urban areas and bring in Sesame Street characters to help cheer volunteers and grab the attention of children in attendance. Elmo and the Cookie Monster have both made appearances at events.

Taylor sees another advantage for firms that get involved with Week of Giving that goes beyond the good feelings generated by helping others. Firms with a perpetuation problem, of which there are many in the insurance community, can use the Week of Giving as a way to help grow successors, she said.

Taylor suggests that firms consider nominating a young professional to lead a Week of Giving project, which will teach the person leadership skills and the importance of community involvement.

“It’s a way to get young employees to lead the way, and help train them and get then enthused,” Taylor said.

Since 1998, IICF supporters have provided nearly 200,000 volunteer hours, serving over 150 nonprofits nationwide, and involving over 200 industry companies and offices.

More information on the Week of Giving website.

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