Centerplate, Denver Mart, Orbus and Others Get Into the Holiday Spirit

November 27, 2019

For many in the events industry, the holidays are a time of open-hearted generosity and giving back. Here’s what several event venues and companies are doing to bring holiday cheer to those in need. 

Centerplate and Pasadena Convention Center Celebrate a Heartfelt Thanksgiving

For the sixth year in a row, the Centerplate team at Pasadena Convention Center in Pasadena, Ca., will prepare 300 turkeys to feed more than 1,500 homeless men, women, children, seniors and very low-income families at the 49th annual Union Station Homeless Services Dinner in the Park, taking place at Pasadena Central Park on Thanksgiving day.


“Over the past six years, it has been an honor for the Pasadena Convention Center and Centerplate to donate resources to help make Union Station Homeless Services Dinner in the Park a success,” said Jeanne Goldschmidt, executive director of the Pasadena Convention & Visitors Bureau.  “We are grateful for the services and meals they offer and are pleased to participate in such a giving cause.”

This is the first year the meal will be led by Jon Dubrick, Centerplate’s new regional executive chef who oversees the creation of food offerings at the convention center and civic auditorium.  

“This is a small gesture, but one we are proud to make each year for the local Pasadena community on behalf of our Centerplate and Sodexo joint team,” said Doug Finney, Centerplate district manager.

Denver Mart Donates Event Space to Operation Free Bird 

Denver Mart has continued its tradition of supporting the Denver community by donating event space and services to the 16th annual Operation Free Bird Thanksgiving event. Held Nov. 23 this year, Operation Free Bird is a combination of fun and health fair designed to bring less-fortunate citizens in Adams County together with local agencies, businesses and organizations.  

Through various donations from more than 30 organizations and 90 volunteers, the event provided 3,000 families with resources and assistance to help them enjoy a happy and healthy Thanksgiving.

Hosted by Adams County Sheriff’s Department, the event provides families in need with all the fixings for a delicious Thanksgiving meal as well as free flu shots; medical, dental, hearing and vision screenings; career and personal advice; haircuts and child ID kits; food and drinks; and displays, demonstrations and music.

Originally started as a small neighborhood get-together, Operation Free Bird continues to grow every year. In 2018, 6,000 free turkeys were given away at the event. 

Orbus Exhibit & Display Group Holds Blood Drive With American Red Cross

Orbus Exhibit & Display Group held its first blood drive in partnership with the American Red Cross on Nov. 11 at its Woodridge, Ill. headquarters. More than 30 Orbus employees participated in the drive, including Alex Frederick, Orbus’s marketing supervisor.

“Orbus wanted to give back in a truly life-changing way, and the Red Cross is such a fantastic organization,” Frederick said. “The work that they do helps so many people, and Orbus wanted to make a positive impact on people not only in the local community but across the country.”


The event was coordinated by Orbus’ Social and Cultural Committee, which plans an array of charitable events throughout the year in support of the company’s philanthropic efforts including various fundraisers such as an annual Toys for Tots drive and holiday bake sale.

Besides the blood drive, Orbus’ third- and fourth-quarter fundraising efforts have been focused on Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago, with events such as casual wear buy-in, manager dunk tank and an ice cream social. 

The company hosts charitable effort year-round, and the first half of 2019 was dedicated to raising over $9,000 for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, Frederick said. 

“Having a blood drive right in the building made it an easy decision; [I could] take a little time out of my day to do something simple that could be life-changing for another,” said Frederick, who participated in the drive. “It became quickly apparent to me how important it is for Orbus to do what it can to give back to the community, and as a team member, you see that commitment and it inspires you to do your part.” 

Greater Columbus Convention Center Honored for Employing Military Veterans

Last month, the Greater Columbus Convention Center was honored by the U.S. Department of Labor for demonstrating success in hiring military veterans during the 2019 HIRE Vets Medallion Awards

Held at The Great Hall of the U.S. Department of Labor in Washington, D. C., the ceremony recognized entities who excel in recruiting, employing and retaining our nation’s military veterans.

During the ceremony, J.S. Shellenberger, acting assistant secretary for the Veterans’ Employment and Training Service, extended his congratulations to GCCC representatives for the facility’s exemplary efforts to recruit, employ and retain military veterans. 

“By meeting the criteria required for a Gold Medallion Award, the Greater Columbus Convention Center demonstrated a model of patriotism worthy of praise as well as a recognition of the value veterans bring to the workplace,” Shellenberger said.

As the only veteran hiring award at the federal level, the Honoring Investments in Recruiting and Employing American Military Veterans (HIRE Vets) Medallion Program implements the requirements of the Hire Vets Act of 2017, signed into law by President Trump in May 2017.

Managed by ASM Global and owned and developed by the Franklin County Convention Facilities Authority, the GCCC employs more than 200 full-time and part-time staff, including more than four dozen veterans.

In addition to hiring military veterans, the GCCC: 

  • Offers reserved and preferential parking for veterans in GCCC parking garages
  • Honors veterans with special patriotic ribbons and other visible means of thanks throughout the year
  • Hosts the annual Central Ohio Veterans Stand Down, an event where service agencies and vendors unite to offer “a hand up, not a handout” to local veterans in need
  • Displays in a special showcase Challenge Coins bearing the insignia of each veteran’s branch of service on one side of the coin and the veteran’s name and GCCC logo on the other

John R. Page, GCCC general manager, accepted the award along with GCCC Human Resources Manager Kasandra Cook, who commented that the facility recognizes the incredible value of hiring veterans who often boast a wide range of experience, competencies and skill sets. 

“The military prepares our veterans to understand how to bring a diverse team of people together to pursue strategic and common goals; adapt to information in dynamic and high-pressure situations that result in excellent service; and the highest standards of quality, safety and organizational imperatives,” Cook said.

For more information about the HIRE Vets program, go here.  

Have any #GivingBack news to share with us? Please reach out to!

Don’t miss any event news! Sign up for any (or all) of our e-newsletters HERE and engage with us on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and Instagram!

Add new comment

Partner Voices
Less than six months ago, Lisa Messina joined the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority (LVCVA) as the first-ever chief sales officer after leading the sales team at Caesars Entertainment. A 12-year Las Vegas resident, Messina is a graduate of Cornell University’s School of Hotel Administration and serves on MPI International’s board of directors. TSNN had a chance to catch up with this dynamic leader and talk to her about her vision for the new role, current shifts in the trade show industry, creating more diversity and equity within the organization, and advice to future female leaders. Lisa Messina, Chief Sales Officer, LVCVA With Las Vegas becoming The Greatest Arena on EarthTM, what are some of the things you’re most excited about in your role? Our team was at The Big Game’s handoff ceremony earlier this month, and I couldn’t help but think, “We’re going to crush it next year!”  These high-profile events and venues not only drive excitement, but also provide unmatched opportunities for event planners. Allegiant Stadium hosts events from 10 to 65,000 people and offers on-field experiences. Formula 1 Grand Prix will take place in Las Vegas in November, after the year-one F1 race, the four-story paddock building will be available for buyouts and will also offer daily ride-along experiences that will be available for groups. And, of course, the MSG Sphere officially announced that it will open in September, ahead of schedule, with a U2 residency. It’s going to be the most technologically advanced venue as far as lighting, sound, feel, and even scent, and it will be available for buyouts and next-level sponsorships inside and outside. There’s no ceiling to what you can do when you’re doing events in Las Vegas.  Allegiant Stadium As the trade show and convention business returns to the pre-pandemic levels, what shifts are you noticing and how do you think they will impact the industry going forward? Our trade show organizers are very focused on driving customer experience. Most of our organizers are reporting stronger exhibitor numbers and increased numbers of new exhibitors, with trade shows proving to be almost or above 2019 levels. Now our organizers are really doubling down on driving attendance and focusing on the data to provide that individualized, customized experience to help attendees meet their goals and get the best value. Some companies continue to be cautiously optimistic with their organizational spend when it comes to sending attendees, but I think it will continue to improve. As the U.S. Travel Association makes more progress on the U.S. visa situation, we also expect a growing influx of international attendees. What are some innovative ways the LVCVA helps trade show and convention organizers deliver the most value for their events? We focus on customer experience in the same way that trade show organizers are thinking about it. We got rave reviews with the West Hall Expansion of the Las Vegas Convention Center (LVCC), so over the next two years, we will be renovating the North and the Central halls, which will include not just the same look and feel, but also the digital experiences that can be leveraged for branding and sponsorship opportunities.  Vegas Loop, the underground transportation system designed by The Boring Company, is also a way we have enhanced the customer experience. Vegas Loop at the LVCC has transported more than 900,000 convention attendees across the campus since its 2021 launch. Last summer, Resorts World and The Boring Company opened the first resort stop at the Resorts World Las Vegas , with plans to expand throughout the resort corridor, including downtown Las Vegas, Allegiant Stadium and Harry Reid International Airport. The LVCVA also purchased the Las Vegas Monorail in 2020, the 3.9-mile-long elevated transportation system that connects eight resorts directly to the convention center campus. This is the only rail system in the world that integrates fares directly into show badges and registration. For trade show organizers, these transportation options mean saving time, money and effort when it comes to moving groups from the hotels to LVCC and around the city. Also, the more we can focus on building the infrastructure around the convention center, the more it supports the customer experience and ultimately supports our trade show organizers. Scheduled to debut in Q4, Fontainebleau Las Vegas will offer 3,700 hotel rooms and 550,000 square feet of meeting and convention space next to LVCC.  What are some of the plans for advancing DEI (diversity, equity and inclusion) within your organization? We’re currently partnering with instead of working with a leading consulting firm, to lay the foundation and create a solid DEI plan and be the leader when it comes to DEI initiatives. The heart of that journey with the consulting firm is also talking to our customers about their strategic approaches to DEI and driving innovation in this space.  What are your favorite ways to recharge? My husband and I have an RV and we’re outdoorsy people. So, while we have over 150,000 world-class hotel rooms and renowned restaurants right outside our doorstep, one of my favorite things to do is get out to Red Rock Canyon, the Valley of Fire, and Lake Mead. Five of the top national parks are within a three-hour drive from Las Vegas, so there’s a lot you can do. We love balancing the energy of Las Vegas with nature, and we’re noticing that a lot of attendees add activities off the Strip when they come here.  Valley of Fire What advice would you give to women following leadership paths in destination marketing? I think it’s about being laser-focused on what you want to accomplish; building a team around you that lifts you and helps you achieve your goals; and being humble and realizing that you do it as a group. No one gets this done alone. Thankfully, there are a lot of women in leadership in this organization, in our customers’ organizations, and in this city that we can be really proud of. We’re a formidable force that is making things happen.   This interview has been edited and condensed. This article is exclusively sponsored by the Las Vegas Convention & Visitors Authority. For more information, visit HERE.