Holiday for Heroes

Camp Pendleton
Camp Pendleton

Camp Pendleton is the largest US Marine Corps Base in the world, located in Oceanside just north of San Diego. Every year at Christmas, HelmsBriscoe and InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG) raise funds and secure donations to create a giant “Holiday for Heroes” for Marines and their families.

Many of these families have a relative or significant other overseas during this event.

Representatives from the 30 IHG properties in the area and over 50 West Coast HelmsBriscoe associates reach out through both their personal and professional networks to make this happen. Furthermore, staff at all of the IHG properties get involved as well to donate their time and skills to help with the logistics surrounding the event.

It’s getting bigger every year too. Six years ago when these industry leaders started this project, it was held on base. But it’s grown so large and attracted so many different types of attendees, the event shifted to the 42,000-sf Quantum Learning Network Conference Center in Oceanside.

“We’re saluting both the Marines and their families,” says Michael Joseph, Key Account Director-Americas with IHG. “We get the chance to show our support for not only the men and women in uniform, but also their loved ones who have to make so many sacrifices throughout the year.”

After the big feast, he says there’s lots of fun stuff for the kids like face painting and arts/crafts, and all of the children get to pick two or three toys to take home.

There are also ancillary benefits for IHG and HelmsBriscoe, both of whom have significant CSR programs in place.

“It delivers great satisfaction to our teams and a lot of personal pride for everyone involved,” says Joseph. “And that translates to the front desk and the chefs and everyone else who has an impact on the guest experience…. This type of giving back is woven into our culture.”

“It creates a real sense of community,” adds HelmsBriscoe VP, Sandy DiMinno, CMP. “We invite our customers, IHG invites their customers, and it’s a great way to tell them what we’re doing. It also allows them to contribute to the program and get the recognition for what they’re doing also.”

Because these days in the “Responsibility Revolution,” if you’re not doing something positive for the communities where you conduct business—and telling people about it—someone else is and they’re gaining marketshare.

“I think it also gives everyone a sense of understanding that we work in an industry where we’re exposed to a lot of wonderful things,” says DiMinno. “And this helps keep us very grounded, knowing that what makes those things possible are the people who serve in the military, who do what they do, so we can travel and enjoy all the benefits of the meeting industry.”

This isn’t something that just happens at Christmas.

During the HelmsBriscoe Annual Business Conference, the Helms Foundation donates to a charity in the city where the conference is held. That ranges from Homestretch, which places homeless families into permanent housing in Washington DC, to a variety of children’s hospitals and orphanages in Houston, New York, Palm Springs, Las Vegas and Orlando.