At this time of year I find myself reflecting on how fortunate we are to be a part of an industry that helps those in need and is always finding the next way to give back.

The aftermath of Hurricane Sandy was a shining example. On the Meetings Community listserv, members posted ways to donate or assist in the relief efforts. There was plenty of free advice for those who had to cancel or move meetings, even offers for those who needed a place to stay. It became a real-time support network, right down to the moderators making sure that some of the regular participants they hadn’t heard from were OK: “Anyone hear from Diana?”

There was the story about an anonymous New York caterer who filled his truck and drove to Staten Island to serve those who were affected. The New York Public Library brought the meals that were meant to be served at its canceled Library Lions gala (honoring Nelson Mandela) to several Staten Island locations. Though the only hotels making headlines were the price-gougers, there were many untold stories of goodwill: Hyatt Hotels Corp. set up an internal employee hurricane relief fund with GiveForward, an online fundraising site; employees at the Andaz 5th Avenue delivered supplies to shelters in the Rockaways section of Queens, home to many employees; Marriott donated $500,000 to disaster relief; and in hard-hit New Jersey, Caesars Entertainment opened a help center at its Bally’s resort for employees at its four Atlantic City hotels. And the airlines helped, too—among them JetBlue, which is matching customer donations up to the first $50,000 donated to the American Red Cross, and is also offering to TrueBlue members six points per dollar donated.

Now it’s our turn to help, so please donate today to the charities below.

Being Green Also = Giving Back
It might not have been front of mind for most members of the meetings industry, but the long-awaited release of the APEX/ASTM green meeting standards (covering nine industry sectors) was, in my opinion, one of the leading news stories of the year. So far, 324 copies of the compiled standards and another 202 copies of the individual standards have been sold, meaning that there are more than 500 meeting planners or hotels out there trying to do their part to give back to our planet. Thanks to the hundreds of industry pros who donated their time to this effort; now, please, get online and go green.

To help with hurricane relief, contact the following charities:
American Red Cross

Hurricane Sandy Relief Fund/UJA-Federation of New York

Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of New York

The Salvation Army

New York Cares

Rockaway Relief/Catholic Charities Diocese of San Diego