by Matt Alderton | January 16, 2013
During its annual meeting, Convening Leaders — concluding today in Orlando — meeting planners gave back to their host community in spades, according to the Professional Convention Management Association (PCMA), which offered attendees at this year's meeting a choice of three different charitable opportunities: Party with a Purpose, Hospitality Helping Hands and the Network for the Needy Donation Drive.

The first opportunity, Party with a Purpose, took place on Jan. 14 and benefited the Boys & Girls Clubs of Central Florida, Network for the Needy and the PCMA Education Foundation. Now in its 20th year, the annual philanthropic celebration hosted more than 1,200 meeting professionals and has raised more than $1.8 million in its 20-year history.

The second opportunity, Hospitality Helping Hands, took place on Jan. 13 and included volunteer opportunities with the events' benefactors: the Coalition for the Homeless of Central Florida, which provides shelter, counseling, job training and education to more than 750 homeless people every day, and Clean the World Foundation, which collects, recycles and distributes discarded soaps, shampoos and other hygiene products from hospitality partners. Meeting planners — who paid a $75 registration fee that went toward the charities — served breakfast, worked on arts and crafts project with children, and helped clean playground and office facilities at Coalition for the Homeless of Central Florida. At Clean the World Foundation, meanwhile, they sanitized, recycled and packaged soap for needy families.

The final charitable opportunity at this year's Convening Leaders was the Network for the Needy Donation Drive, which allowed attendees to donate paper, crayons, markers and other school supplies for underprivileged children via A Gift for Teaching.

"Our members and their organizations will benefit from the outstanding facilities and the hard-working people here in Orlando," said PCMA President and CEO Deborah Sexton. "These programs are one way of expressing our sincere thanks to this tremendous community. After our members leave, we hope these donations will leave a lasting impact for the families, students and teachers who need assistance in central Florida."

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