Meaningful Aid for Typhoon Haiyan Victims

There's a scene that likely is familiar to many meeting planners — convention center spaces temporarily turned into staging areas where meeting attendees volunteer for an hour or an afternoon to pack donated supplies to be delivered to those in need.


And then there is this scene: Since Nov. 15, the Cebu International Convention Center (CICC) in Mandaue City has served as a center for repacking the mountains of rice, coffee, and other food  that has been pouring in to aid  the victims of Typhoon Haiyan. Beginning on Nov. 8, the 300-mile-wide monster storm devastated six islands in the central Philippines, killing  more than 5,000 people,  injuring more than 25,000, and destroying an estimated million homes.

At CICC, thousands of volunteers have been working on 23 assembly lines 24 hours a day to repackage the food — in the first nine days, more than 200,000 food packs had been dispatched from the center to typhoon-hit areas.

It is impossible to draw a comparison between an afternoon’s CSR activity and the enormous scale and urgency of the response to the typhoon, except to note that individual catastrophes of homelessness or lack cause real suffering.

But this photo made me go back and read Editor Michelle Russell’s story from our August issue, about the role of CSR in meetings and planners who are thinking about how to create programs that make as high an impact as possible on those they serve. It is not always easy or even clear how planners can match resources and needs in a meaningful way in the context of a meeting, when they already are stretched to the max.

But it is worth the effort, Claire Smith, vice president for sales and marketing at the  Vancouver Convention Centre,  told Michelle. “It is actually quite exciting, when you think of the opportunity. Because the will is there — I think people really want to make a difference and want to feel like they’ve left a place in a better way than when they got there. I think that is a human desire.”

Barbara Palmer

Barbara Palmer is senior editor and director of digital content.