There aren't too many posts I write that don't include some mention of iParty. Along with Ocean State Job Lots - another company I'll be posting on soon - they're the backbone of our cause marketing program here at the hospital. Without them we wouldn't have started our program, and during the tough times, they keep it going with their support, friendship and the occasional whoopie cushion. We would not be where we are today without them.
I am thankful for many things this holiday season, but near the top is Sal Perisano and Dorice Dionne and all our friends at iParty! Below is a story that ran recently in our monthly e-newsletter.
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Sal Perisano, CEO, of iParty likes to tell people that he sells 20,000 things that nobody needs. Unless, of course, you happen to need confetti shaped like the number “40”, a plastic nose, mustache and eyeglasses for disguise or, if it’s Halloween, a Styrofoam headstone that says “I’ll be back.”
Sal and his wife, Dorice Dionne, are all about fun and you can see it in any one of the aisles of their 50 New England and Florida stores, which are packed with balloons, prizes, costumes and other seasonal party supplies.
If you want to have serious talk with Sal and Dorice you need only mention their favorite charity, the Kids Fund at Boston Medical Center. They have been supporters of the Fund for 11 years.
“I met Barry Zuckerman, head of pediatrics at BMC, through a friend,” explains Sal. “When I found out they were basically collecting money in a shoebox to pay for food, coats, eyeglasses and other things insurance didn’t cover, I thought I could help.”
Sal and Dorice solidified the connection between the Kids Fund and their party supply business and more than 1,000 employees four years ago when iParty and BMC launched Halloween Town.
“I knew two things,” says Sal. “I always wanted to have a big Halloween party for the kids of Boston and I wanted the event to benefit my favorite charity, the BMC Kids Fund. So I reached out to them and asked “Hey, will you do this with me?”
Working with the Cause & Event Marketing Team within BMC’s Development Office, Sal and Dorice added people, resources, supplies and supporters to the effort.
“Halloween Town couldn’t have happened without iParty,” says Joe Waters, director of cause & event marketing at BMC. “In addition to being generous people, Sal and Dorice's connection to the Halloween business brought everything from partners to candy and prizes for the event.”
Still, no one knew what to expect that first year. Some predicted that Halloween Town would be a success if it drew just 2,500 people. But they forgot to factor in Sal and Dorice’s iParty magic.
“When the doors opened that day we had line down the street and it didn’t let up all day,” adds Waters. By day’s end nearly 10,000 had attended the first Halloween Town.
Now in its fourth year, Halloween Town has grown to a two-day event that last October attracted 15,000 people and involved 41 corporate sponsors, 800 volunteers and dozens of children’s performers. It also continues its mission to support BMC’s Kids Fund.
Much of this support comes from iParty and the three point-of-sale programs it runs for BMC each year. These easy but lucrative programs allow shoppers to donate a dollar at the register to help BMC and, and as an extra incentive, to rewarded with money saving coupons. The program has been a win-win for everyone involved.
“They’re great because my employees enjoy telling customers about how iParty supports BMC,” says Sal. “It’s good for the customer because it’s not a big ask and they also save some money from the coupons, including one for their next visit to iParty.”
But the big winner is BMC. “This year we raised $161,000,” says Sal with a bright smile. “I’m really proud of that.”
Sal Perisano and Dorice Dionne know about the challenges the children at BMC face, and how important every dollar is, especially these days. They have fun at what they do, but they know from their support of the hospital that not everything in this world is fun and games.