2 December 2019 – A day after the country commemorated World Aids Day, First Group, one of South Africa’s leading leisure groups, joined the Hillcrest Aids Centre Trust (HACT) for their candle-lighting ceremony to hand over 3 842 items donated that their staff had personally raised.
The donations, made up of everything including food items, toiletries, stationery and clothing, were all items on HACT’s Wish List. Shaun Lamont, First Group’s Managing Director said he was completely blown away by how First Group’s staff led and implemented their ‘Pass it Forward’ initiative. “Usually corporate social responsibility campaigns are driven from the top, but this campaign was totally staff-inspired.”
He says that towards the end of 2018, the company introduced the XO concept, a revival and implementation of a renewed customer-focused attitude in which all First Group staff were challenged to go out of their way to treat guests, clients and club members with uncompromised warmth, friendliness, respect and love. “For the first time this year, this concept of re-looking at how we treat one another, and our guests really took hold. Our staff embraced their new titles of ‘GEM’ (Guest Experience Manager) and before we knew it, they extended their love and respect to the community too.”
The staff dubbed the initiative ‘The Pass it Forward Campaign’ and created a ‘donation relay virtual baton’, which was passed on from one department to the next, with each department challenging the next to collect as many donations as possible.
Lamont says that the original goal was just to get as many items on the HACT wish list as they could. “The staff not only surprised me, they surprised themselves! What was most encouraging was that even though some of our employees come from single-income homes and are struggling themselves, they opened their hearts and achieved amazing results, proving that we always are better together!”
Interestingly, part of HACT’s mission is “I am because you are”. HACT believes in being community-driven and constantly being aware that our actions impact those around us. After all, the sum is always better than the parts. This campaign is just another wonderful example of that.
“Today was truly one of my proudest at First Group. It is a massive privilege to collaborate with the Hillcrest Aids Centre Trust in support of World Aids Day. This staff-driven initiative has displayed that giving is not just about making a donation, it is about making a difference; and everyone can make a difference,” Lamont concludes.