As Hilton Bogotá volunteers planted pine trees, repaired a basketball court, painted picnic tables and more at the nonprofit school Fundación Colegio Nueva Granada during a school day, they had an eager audience.
“A major impact of the project was the fact that the children were watching the volunteers, people they had never seen in their lives, work so hard throughout the entire day,” says Marcela Campos, project manager with HandsOn Bogotá, a HandsOn Network affiliate that facilitated the volunteer project. “I think it gave them a sense of belonging, a sense of, ‘Wow, we matter and look at these amazing people doing something for us.’”
The activities, which took place during Hilton Worldwide’s Global Week of Service in October, show how the leading global hospitality company brings their employees together to serve the communities in which they live, work and raise their families.
During that one week alone – just part of Hilton’s year-round efforts – Hilton employees participated in more than 2,400 service projects, making a difference in more than 730 communities in 72 countries, and bringing to life what hospitality is all about.
For the Bogotá project, beyond planting trees, fixing the basketball court and painting picnic tables, Hilton volunteers also painted a hopscotch course on the playground, created a vegetable garden and installed corkboards in hallways and classrooms throughout the school.
“I loved seeing the smiles on the little kids’ faces after we went to improve their school,” says Felipe Godoy, one of the 48 Hilton Bogotá volunteers. “The fact that I was able to help other people – especially kids that are less fortunate – was inspiring.”
HandsOn Bogotá also partnered with HandsOn Broward for an artwork exchange involving the Hilton volunteers. After their shift at the school, the volunteers traced their hands and painted and cut out the tracings to be arranged on a canvass. Volunteers associated with HandsOn Broward will do the same, and the two nonprofits will display each other’s artwork.
The school volunteer project with Hilton was HandsOn Botogá’s first major endeavor with a corporate sponsor. The nonprofit anticipates similar collaborations in the future.
“We hope this project will give us more exposure and help us reach out to more companies,” says Campos. “I think it shows that we really can be well-organized, cover every detail and help people see the beauty of volunteering.”