Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Holiday Hearts for Vets ~ This Week’s “Small Business Spotlight”!

In this season defined by giving and gratefulness, many charity organizations look to make things a little brighter for those around them.

Holiday Hearts for Vets stands out among the crowd.  This organization, located in the Rockbridge county area of Virginia, is focused on giving thanks to our disabled, aging, and other deserving veterans during the Christmas holiday.

Sandy Collier started Holiday Hearts for Vets in 2011.  Helping bring holiday joy to veterans and their families is close to her heart.  Holiday Hearts for Vets is Sandy’s chance to “pay it forward”.

HHFV honors the sacrifice made to our country by veterans and their families.  So, what better way to celebrate the season than to combine the spirit of Christmas and gratitude to our veterans? Sandy even hopes to expand the program to include veterans in neighboring Augusta county.

Sandy finds local veterans and fills them in on the Holiday Hearts for Vets program.  If they agree to take part, the real work begins.  Sandy and her corp of volunteers will clean up the yard, rake ~ whatever it takes to get it ready for the fun part ~ decorating!

HHFV will then set to work making the veteran’s house festive.  Lights and other decorations donated by local businesses and individuals are used to make their home sparkle.  The veterans also receive other “goodies” such as gift baskets and gift cards.

Then, come January, the volunteers return to take it all down and clean up.  Sandy has many volunteers who participate, whether it is for yard clean up, knitting hats and scarves, baking cookies, assembling gift baskets, and even local stores and restaurants that donate gift cards.

Sandy’s hope is that by decorating their home for the holidays, each veteran will know that there are people who care about their sacrifice.  It is especially important to Sandy to return the Christmas spirit that some veterans may have lost.   

 This year, Holiday Hearts for Vets is helping three area veterans.  All three served in the US Army.  However, each year it is different.  Since its beginning, Holiday Hearts for Vets has helped a total of 7 Veterans.  Their goal is to always strive to do better and improve upon the preceding year.

A memorable and  touching moment happened recently when Sandy explained the HHFV program to one of this year’s veterans;

“When I told him of the program, he started to cry and said in a stuttering voice, ‘But I have no money’. When I explained to him it didn't cost him anything, just permission to let us do it, he proceeded to tear some more.”

Sandy believes that Holiday Hearts for Vets has a lot to be thankful for this year.  They have been blessed by support and donations from many sources:

  • Penny Perasso of Grey-Wolf Designs donated her talents to create a wonderful new logo.   Check the logo out at the beginning of this article!

  • HHFV also had help from Miller Finch of Miller Finch Media in helping to write a letter for a recently featured newspaper article.  

  • They also thank Joe Soltis of Soltis Consulting for setting up their non-profit status.

New this year is Holiday Hearts for Vets Christmas Cards for Troops program.  Central Elementary in Lexington, VA., was picked to help get the cards to our soldiers.  They helped send over 500 of them!!!

Central Elementary Students Help Send Cards to Our Troops!
Sandy gives credit to Jacinta Jacfred Creation Stationary for helping her make the connections necessary for getting the cards.  A generous paper company donated all the cards, but they wish to remain anonymous.

Also, this year the local Waynesboro, VA Home Depot  donated the decorations needed.  Sandy hopes this will be an ongoing thing as the need is great.

HHFV also thanks Michael Camden Landscaping and LawnCare for jumping on board to assist with clean up. 

Sandy’s hope is that in the coming years they can get a construction company to donate their time and skills to our vets.  Many need help completing minor repairs, or constructing a wheelchair ramp, etc.

If you are in the Rockbridge area and want to help, be sure to contact them.  You can find Holiday Hearts for Vets through this Facebook link. 

Or, you may even be inspired to start a similar program in your area!

We thank Sandy and Holiday Hearts for Vets for spreading Christmas cheer to our veterans.....What a great example of knowing “the reason for the season” to us all!

Authored by  

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Tuesday, December 3, 2013

5 Tips to Help You Make the Best “Holiday Hires”!

Is Your Business Hiring for the Holidays?
Find out what You Need to Know Now!
Anyone who will be out shopping in the next  couple months or so will come in contact with “holiday hires”. These employees are hired on a seasonal basis to keep a company running during this hectic season.

While it may seem that finding and hiring seasonal employees would be an easy task ~ there are definite pitfalls that you need to avoid. 

5 Tips to Help You make "Seasonal Hires" in Your Small Business!  "Tweet This"

The key to making this hiring process run smoothly? Developing sound guidelines and sticking to them! Going in haphazardly or rushed will only set you up for failure.

So, when you find yourself in need of Holiday Hires (or any temp employees for that matter), these 5 tips will help you make the best decisions.

5 Tips for Hiring Seasonal Workers
  • Start Early
If at all possible, avoid beginning your seasonal hiring process until the last minute. Giving yourself the time you need to find the best temporary employees will save you a lot of headaches.

Even if you find yourself getting a late start, following these other tips can still help you be successful in your quest.
  • Stick with What Works
If your existing hiring practices are successful, why change them for your temporary hires? Many will argue that the rushed timeframe and pressure to fill your hiring needs justifies cutting corners. I completely disagree. Doing so will only open your company to unnecessary risk.

Instead, it is more important than ever for you to maintain your hiring standards. Be sure to follow your usual interview and screening processes to ensure the safety and integrity of your company.
  • Check References and Criminal History
Many times, the temporary nature of “seasonal employees” and the heightened sense of urgency fools companies into believing they can skip this step.

This is a possibly costly mistake. Unless your hire has worked for you before, omitting the background check can cause you major problems. It is actually more important than ever to make sure your new hire is reliable and trustworthy.

Having to worry about whether they will show up on time or is apt to steal from you simply adds more stress to the holiday chaos. That is why checking references and criminal history may actually be more important than ever.
Discover more about why using Background Checks makes Sense for Your Small Business, HERE!

  • Use Previous Hires or Existing Resources
Don’t forget about temporary workers you have used in holidays past. They are a great pool of talent to fill your needs. You can even tap into the friends and families of your existing employees, college students on break, or retirees.

Each of these resources can help you find the seasonal hires you need, and many have the flexible schedules you want.
  • Don’t Overlook Training
While you may not be able to offer your usual orientation to get your seasonal employees up to speed, you still need to provide a condensed version to make sure your news hires will be ready to step right in.

It is important you develop a training plan that focuses on exactly what your holiday hires need to know to be successful. Place special emphasis on working safely, customer service, and following procedures.

Remember, even temporary employees are the face of your company. It is crucial to realize they are often the first thing your customers see. A bad impression can leave them with a lasting, negative feeling about you and your company ~ one that will remain long after the holiday rush. Therefore, hiring the best possible should be your ultimate goal.

Following these 5 tips will help you make the successful seasonal hires you need.   
These hires can then turn into a great resource for finding permanent employees. That is why doing it right the first time makes sense!
Do you have tips for surviving the Holiday Rush? Please leave them in the comments below!

Authored by  

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