Season of Giving


Originally posted in The Rawlings-Blake Review, Issue #185

December 3, 2013 was the second annual #GivingTuesday. This initiative, which began in New York City, has spread across the world. In a growing economy that is bolstered by unofficial ‘holidays’ like Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, and Cyber Monday, #GivingTuesday urges everyone to devote the day to charity, give back to the community, and spread the word via social media or any means possible.

This year’s #GivingTuesday was particularly exciting in Baltimore, as we proved that we are the most generous city in America. I joined with local businesses and nonprofits to encourage Baltimore residents to give. The local campaign, Bmore Gives More, was organized by GiveCorps and set out to raise $5 million in just one day for more than 200 charitable organizations in Baltimore.

Donation incentives were offered throughout the day by local businesses, including B Bistro, Birrotecca, Dooby’s, Fleet Street Kitchen, Gertrude’s, Joe Squared, Tapas Teatro, Ten Ten, and The Helmand Restaurant. The Associated: Jewish Community Federation of Baltimore held an all-day phone-a-thon. CrossFit Federal Hill sponsored a BMGM workout of the day and set out a donation change jar. Some businesses even created special BMGM items and donated a percentage of the proceeds or provided matching funds from those items for #GivingTuesday.

Baltimore really stepped up to the plate. At the end of the day, not only had we met our $5 million goal, but we exceeded it by at least half a million dollars. Hundreds of local charities and programs will benefit from the generosity shown by Baltimoreans on #GivingTuesday. I want to thank everyone who made the Bmore Gives More initiative a resounding success.

I also want to take a moment to thank the Baltimore City employees who roll up their sleeves every day to provide the services that keep Baltimore running. Last week, I visited a number of City employees in their places of work to express my gratitude for their service.

I stopped by the Thomas J. Burke Fire Station (Oldtown) to visit with members of the Baltimore City Fire Department (BCFD). A number of changes have taken place at the station in the past year—over $300,000 in renovation and construction. Oldtown is also home to some of our newest fire apparatus. The men and women of the BCFD, under the leadership of Acting Fire Chief Jeffrey Segal, are truly heroes, and I was thankful for the opportunity to personally thank them for their service and commitment to making Baltimore a safer city.

I also visited the Mayor’s Office of Information Technology (MOIT), which is responsible for leveraging information technology to enhance productivity, broaden our capabilities, and reduce the City’s operating costs. The talented and dedicated MOIT staff, led by CIO Chris Tonjes, have given us a year of great accomplishments, including advances in bridging the digital divide, implementing next generation infrastructure, and building a more innovative, transparent government. You may or may not know that the men and women of MOIT are responsible for operation of the City's 311 dispatch center—which operates 365 days a year—and the City’s CCTV crime prevention system, CitiWatch. I can't wait to see even more innovation from them in the future.

I want to, again, thank everyone at BCFD and MOIT for the work they do every day. I look forward visiting with employees at other City agencies in the new year.

During this season of giving, it is great to know that Baltimore IS the most generous city in America. I have always said that in Baltimore, we come together, we roll up our sleeves, and we get things done.

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