It used to be when new neighbors moved in, they were welcomed with a fruit-laden gelatin mold.
The Willow Grove Chamber of Commerce would like to take that idea just a couple of steps further.
“I always say I feel like Ed McMahon, but without the big check,” Joanne DeFlavis, chairperson for the chamber’s Welcome Committee said. “Because, it’s such an unexpected, pleasant surprise.”
Six times a year, including this afternoon, the chamber’s Welcome Committee puts together its Welcome Baskets, made up of items donated by chamber members, and gives them to new residents and new businesses that become members of the chamber.
DeFlavis is a realtor with Coldwell Banker Hearthside, whose company is a charter member of the Willow Grove Chamber of Commerce. As chairperson for the chamber’s Welcome Committee, DeFlavis helps to organize an-every-other-month basket-stuffing event along with the other members of the committee.
The committee, who are all chamber members, volunteer their time from their respective businesses by sorting through scores of items and fitting them into a welcome basket.
Each item is donated by a member of the chamber, often providing coupons or gift cards to the local businesses, inc or useful marketing items. Items in the baskets included, but were not limited to:
- Water bottles from LA Fitness
- Piggy Bank from First Niagara
- Beverage holder from Aquality Plumbing and Heating
- A keychain from Dempsters auto service
- A coupon for two free piano lessons from Hands Together Piano
- Live begonias from Kremp Florist
Nonprofit members of the chamber, including Second Alarmers Rescue Squad and Buxmont Mommies also donated items and informational pieces into the baskets.
Also included in the baskets were other public service items, such as voter registration cards and informational items about the township.
The baskets, which are purchased from Kremp Florist, contain at least 20 – 30 items in each.
“It’s all dependent on the merchant members,” DeFlavis, whose company donated a tote bag, said. “It’s one of the positive benefits of being a member of the Willow Grove Chamber of Commerce.”
DeFlavis said that chamber members are given the opportunity to include a marketing or information item in the gift bag each month. Since the Welcome Basket program started in 2007, DeFlavis said that the committee has not once been in need of items, as she says it’s an excellent way of also introducing businesses to new residents.
“I really like this idea,” Dianna Gallen, office manager of BQ Basement Systems, said. “People don’t always know where to go when they first move in.“
Gallen, whose business is a new member to the chamber this year, said that she volunteered to be a part of the committee, because she was taken with this outreach idea. She, along with the three other members of the committee who were busy in an assembly line of marketing tools and cellophane wrap, said that they have not heard of other nearby chambers embarking with such an initiative.
According to DeFlavis, this month’s Welcome Basket presentations will be delivered to 19 residential and 8 new chamber business. She said that the committee has averaged around 30 new residential and business baskets at each presentation.
She added that the baskets are presented as a complete surprise, and delivered for free by Kremp Florist.
“This is a positive new experience for the new members in our community,” DeFlavis said.
The chamber is currently inviting new business members for item-donations into the chamber’s Welcome Basket Committee.
For more information, visit ewillowgrove.com.