Combining Helping Others and Harry Potter for an Incredible United Way Campaign

by Alex Antonio

Penna Powers

Listen, I get it. You’re busy. It’s the holiday season and you’ve got a full plate at work while still juggling family activities, church events and some much-needed hibernation. With so much going on, it’s easy to get caught up in the everyday minutia, especially during this time of year. But I can tell you from experience, this work is life changing. Both for you, and the communities supported by United Way Salt Lake.
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I joined the Penna Powers team six months ago in December. I remember interviewing and immediately knowing there was something special about the company. The conversation felt effortless and the company’s values aligned with many of my own. The job had my name written all over it. I found myself at the end of the interview, you know, the moment where they ask if you have any questions for them, and the very first thing on my list was this: what philanthropic work does the company participate in? Aside from an array of public involvement clientele and projects, their answer was an annual campaign in partnership with United Way. And in that moment I knew, this was the place for me.

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Within weeks of my hire, I joined the entire Penna Powers team in a Day of Caring event. Then again, a few short months later, I joined a committee to organize an in-office campaign. Both were incredible experiences, but I’d like to focus on our internal campaign (that’s where the real fun began).

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At the onset of the campaign, we knew we needed to do something different than years past. We chose a theme to match the childlike wonder that inspires us to give: Harry Potter. For two weeks, we sorted all employees into houses, played Harry Potter trivia daily and even had a giant scavenger hunt. Furthermore, during each activity, we incorporated and supported the United Way, making it easy to donate both time or money to the overarching campaign. Five points to Gryffindor house for donating some clothes, 10 points to Slytherin for volunteering outside of work, etc. The teams were competitive, but the common goal was to impact the community around us. When the campaign wrapped, many team members had signed up to be mentors, another batch to read with kids after school and we had more clothes and books than could fit within a standard cubicle. It was incredible.

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I share this with you not as a means to brag about the wonderful company I work for, but more as a way of thanking United Way for the work they do and for letting us get involved. It allowed us to get out of our heads and into our hearts—to give and share and build communities, lifting them up to their potential. Participating in United Way volunteering opportunities has helped us at Penna Powers look at the bigger picture, beyond our immediate to help those in need. Now that’s a company I can get behind.

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“If you’re feeling helpless, help someone.”

– Aung San Suu Kyi

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