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Giving back and looking forward

We're looking forward to finding new ways to give back in 2011, and we're taking a look back at our favorite moments from 2010, too. We had fun finding new ways to push our efforts even further this year and to add in a little creativity wherever possible. I'm so proud of the work Emma does to give back. As you reminisce with us about our 2010 highlights, feel free to give us a shout with any community initiatives that are important to you and your company.

Jessica and Christy with Sam, a favorite on our Meals on Wheels route.

Mobile Meals at St. Luke's
Every Wednesday, two Emma staffers buddy up and deliver meals around the community for St. Luke's. The route lasts about an hour and is a perfect break from the regular workday. Not only do we get to chat with a colleague and maybe even discuss another new project we're working on, but we also get to meet some folks around Nashville and be a part of their lives. Sam seems to be a favorite — he loves the Emma crew, always keeps his yard pristine and is often at the door with a perfectly knotted tie.

Another good friend is Sergy, who's originally from Russia and has a to-die-for smile and peppy attitude. Sadly, his pup passed away a few weeks ago. We all knew and loved that dog, so we found the perfect card for Sergy — no words, just photos, so that he would know we were thinking of him despite the language barrier.

Our involvement with Kiva warms us up like hot cocoa. It's a fantastic organization that helps empower small businesses around the world with entrepreneurial loans. Throughout this year, we've lent money to 25 different people trying to start businesses in countries ranging from Benin to Lebanon, Kenya to Costa Rica, Nicaragua to Iraq. We can't wait to get this year's loans started; already on the 2011 giving list are start-ups in Uganda and the Kyrgyz Republic.

Did you hear about the lady who covered all of the DonorsChoose California requests? That was Emma. Just kidding — but we *were* inspired by that incredible example of generosity. We've been working with DonorsChoose for quite a while now, and the California story has been a great motivator for us to push ourselves further. In 2010, we covered costs for 35 classrooms in need. Many teachers go to work every day without adequate supplies to teach their students, and DonorsChoose allows teachers to post their needs online and request help from anyone who wants to give. As with Kiva, our staffers volunteer and select the classrooms online. Then the best part, of course, is seeing all the sweet thank you notes from the cute kids.

Kelli, Elizabeth and Mary Claire enjoying the Jack and Back ride.

"Bike to Jack and Back" Bike MS
Every year, Jack Daniel's sponsors a two-day bike ride from Nashville to their legendary distillery in Lynchburg, TN, and then back to Nashville. When a staffer forwarded an email about the event to the rest of the company, we quickly realized how many Emma friends and family have been affected by multiple sclerosis. For the first time this year, we had a whole team of riders and volunteers involved in the event, and we began our planning and training in April.

The best part was our not-so-silent auction. We created a sort of online marketplace where anyone from Emma could bid on goods and services offered up by other staffers, and all the money went toward Bike MS. Items staffers offered for auction included eating tapas with our CEO Clint Smith while listening to '80s rock music and one-day-only rights to have Community staffer Kelli Liszka do backbends on command. We had a blast and raised more than $5,000.

Some other organizations we supported this year:

Does your company also love to give back? Let us know what kind of groups inspire you … we want to hear your ideas.