Make no mistake: The Well Done Marketing staff loves a good party.

But in the midst of a pandemic, getting everyone together in a room didn’t seem like a very good idea. And having only a Zoom party seemed, well…sad.

So this year, we decided to do something different: We redirected the money we’d normally spend celebrating each other to help the good folks at Southeast Community Services (SECS) make sure the families they serve had a brighter holiday season.

SECS has been a stabilizing anchor in Fountain Square since the 1970s. Year round, they provide free meals, education, and life coaching, among other necessities, for area residents in need of assistance. During the holidays, SECS invites families to a Christmas party where there’s festive food, holiday decor, and, for the community’s youngest, an opportunity for face time with Santa and Mrs. Claus. At the same time, parents are given donated, wrapped gifts—new clothes, toys, and necessities—they can tuck away until Christmas morning, telling kids the presents came from Santa or them or whomever they choose.

We figured they might have more need than usual this year. Turns out, we were right: Requests to take part in their free event were up by about 40 percent. So, we got a list of 35 kids, their wants, and needs. Then, almost every member of our staff went on a mini shopping spree for one child each. We helped buy gift cards for groceries, too, and then put our decorating skills to work, creating a reimagined, socially distanced drive-up Christmas party.

It all came together the evening of Friday, December 11, when volunteers greeted a string of cars lined up outside the center. As each one pulled up, gifts and goodies were packed in. Masked volunteers gave away bags of candy and hot chocolate kits—complete with peppermint crumbles and marshmallows. Meanwhile, the wrapped presents were dropped into trunks, out of sight of any kids in the car.

Mr. and Mrs Clause waving

Decorated Christmas tree The whole thing was over in under two hours. But, by the time the last bag of candy was handed out, SECS’s holiday party ended up being more meaningful than any other party we could have thrown this year. Ultimately, that’s the kind of company we are: We love a good party, but we love doing good work even more.