Yelp Helps Across the Bay Area!
With New Year's resolutions top-of-mind, January 2013 was the perfect time to encourage Yelpers to sign up for our own Bay Area volunteerism campaign, Yelp Helps. That's right, Yelp South Bay and Yelp East Bay challenged Yelpers to make a difference in their local community by donating 3–5 hours in January to a worthy non-profit. No matter a Yelper's passion (cats, kids, the arts, Mother Nature), opportunities were plentiful thanks to our Yelp Helps partner, GoVoluntr, a Silicon Valley website who matches Bay Area locals with volunteer opportunities. Not only do they show where help is needed, but they track volunteer hours and provide all sorts of reward "goodies". Yelpers simply created a free GoVoluntr account, signed up for opportunites and logged their hours... Simple as that!
South Bay Yelpers got into the spirit of giving back right away with a food sort CMYE @ Second Harvest in San Jose. A group of 20+ gathered on a cold, winter evening to sort produce from giant containers to family-size boxes. Whether they were elbows-deep in oranges, weighing boxes or putting together boxes, the two hour committment helped everyone realize how many people in our community are hungry and need help! More importantly, "To see so many people helping out on their day off really warmed, Ellen L's heart. She "knew that all of these people genuinely wanted to give their time and effort to helping out for such a great cause." And if that wasn't fun enough, a very talented Yelper brought handmade cookies with the Yelp burst to everyone who lent a hand that night. Sweet... literally!
In addition to group projects, hundreds of South Bay Yelpers donated their time/efforts to a variety of NPO's and shared their experiences on the Yelp Helps listing. "Because of this, I am re-inspired!" cheered Jeralyn M. "I am now volunteering to coach youth basketball; something I LOVED and used to do 5 years ago!" Tram N "loved the Furry Friendly Visits!!!" With this opportunity, she took her "two amazing canines that just love people" to give some TLC to the elderly. Audrey C "Can't wait to volunteer with other Yelpers!" Yelp Helps motivated her to sign up to help at the Boys and Girls Club event in Menlo Park where she couldn't wait to volunteer with other Yelpers!
With over 100 non-profit organizations to work with, East Bay Yelpers had no trouble putting their diverse skills to work. Popular volunteer outings included trimming native trees at Walnut Creek Open Space, teaching entrepreneurship skills to college-bound youth with BUILD, helping refugee job-seekers practice their interviewing & networking skills with Upwardly Global, and packaging fresh produce to be distributed to thousands of families in need with Alameda County Community Food Bank. Describing her experience with Yelp Helps, Amber S claims "Nothing can describe the feeling after you volunteer. Go do it and you will find out!"
Yelpers who dedicated 3-5 hours of volunteer work in the month of January not only relished the warm fuzzies and feel-good vibes from their Yelp Helps efforts, but also received an invite to Yelp's Good Karma Ball: an appreciation gala for Yelp Helpers. The regal Castlewood Country Club set the mood for this upscale affair, featuring endless complimentary quaffs from Chambord, Ninkasibeer, Fortino Winery, Woodchuck Cider and Naked Juice. May D fancied the Fleur de Lis cocktail from Chambord, noting "It's sweet, light, and perfect for brunch or a day out with the gals." Meanwhile, Surge C was smitten with Fortino's almond champagne, professing "I will ever tastechampagne the same way again! Best. Thing. Ever."
Castlewood's grand ballroom was filled with treats for every palate. La Boulange provided a spread of French macarons and fresh fruit tarts, while Cake Delight built a tower of mini cupcakes that were "almost too cute to eat," Amber S recalls. Baci Chocolates offered a sweet reward for Yelp Helpers in the form of Italian white and dark chocolate hazelnut bonbons, Pretzel Crisps had a dreamy dipping station for their savory snacks, and Rubios kept the sizzling habanero mahi tacos coming all day long. Adam D was won over by "their sweet and spicy flavors, satisfying any palate."
Each food vendor partnered with a local charity, to share upcoming volunteer opportunities and keep the Yelp Helps spirit alive throughout the year. "Seeing all the organizations along the outskirts of the ballroom and all the yummy delectable bites set up at each table was certainly delightful," Stephanie M adds. "Every morsel of fish taco, every chew of macaron, every sip of my Chambord cocktail, was eloquently presented and appreciated" by this charitable crew.
The party with a purpose continued with festive Face Painting by Poppy and merry-making in theLaugh Box photo booth. "Who knew 7 seconds would amount to that many pages in a flipbook?!"May D muses. "It's a fun keepsake and it only took 3 minutes to put together...how could you not love that?"
Together, Yelp Helpers donated over 1500 volunteer hours and $36K of pro-bono labor... Definitely a cause to celebrate! Cheers to kicking off 2013 on a helpful note, Yelpers! And don't forget to read the reviews or check out the photos from the Good Karma Ball!
XOXO, Nique F (East Bay Community Manager) and Abby S (South Bay Community Manager)