When officials at Playworld Systems Inc., decided to hold the company's annual sales meeting in New Orleans, they wanted to do more than give the hurricane-ravaged city an economic boost. They wanted to give back with their hands and hearts, too. So they decided to build a playground, a gesture that has touched off projects by other groups meeting in the Crescent City.

On January 19, 2007 — in the middle of Playworld's meeting at the Ritz-Carlton New Orleans — all 250 attendees will break into teams to do landscaping, pour cement, and assemble playground equipment, explains Kristi Teats, sales assistant at the Lewisburg, Pa. — based playground equipment manufacturer. KaBOOM!, a Washington, D.C. — based nonprofit focused on building playgrounds, will partner with Playworld by providing construction resources.

Inspired by the gesture, the Ritz-Carlton, which is reopening December 1 after being closed for more than a year, is facilitating the process of getting groups involved in community service. It has developed a list of organizations that groups can contact to donate their time, and several clients — including Texas Roadhouse Restaurants and Coca-Cola — have agreed to participate. Other Marriott-owned properties in the city are also facilitating community projects.