by Shawn Dwyer on December 01, 2020
On November 16, the Activision Blizzard workforce and their families began participating in the 7th annual Veterans Day of Service. Typically a day of service that sees volunteers contributing outside the office in their communities, this year’s event was a week-long affair that operated from people’s homes due to the global pandemic.
Activision Blizzard recognized the need to give back to veterans now more than ever, leading to a renewed commitment to maintain the annual Veterans Day of Service, though in a slightly altered form.
“Veterans Day of Service has been reinvented as a COVID-safe, work from home volunteer experience,” says Diana Diller, Senior Manager of Internal Events and Experiential Marketing at Activision. “As the planning process was underway for VDOS – which has become Veterans WEEK of Service for 2020 – local guidelines from state to state and country to country changed, so everything planned was safe and secure, no matter what, aligned with the overall company care for our workforce.”
Activision Blizzard wanted to keep working with regional affiliates in order to meet the specific needs of veterans receiving support. It was crucial to organizers for development studio teams and corporate offices to continue their work with local organizations, so with using past experience as a guide, Diller and her team hit on the idea of assembling at-home kits to be sent to the various community groups, who in turn would distribute them to veterans and their families. “We saw how well the items needed to support veterans right now suited this approach,” Diller said.
Those needs vary according to local need, but some kits include blankets, hats, and scarves for homeless veterans; COVID Stay Well Kits; and stuffed animals for children of deployed military who won’t be home for the holidays. And once again, Activision supported organizations that train service animals for vets.
“Our global team lived our values of creativity and responsibility—finding a truly unique way to serve a community that inspires so many of us, in the face of challenges that would have deterred a lesser organization,” said Dan Goldenberg, Executive Director of the Call of Duty Endowment.
Despite the challenges of this year’s effort, participation among the Activision Blizzard workforce and Call of Duty League volunteers was better than 2019, with more than 1,100 people globally contributing.
What It Means to Give Back
Among the more than 1,000 volunteers across the various studios and offices, people who have previously served in the armed forces were especially compelled to help, feeling it was their duty to give back to their fellow veterans. Dor Levgoren, a former tank commander in the Israeli Defense Forces and now a QA Test Analyst at Blizzard, assembled motivational blocks for homeless veterans in San Diego.
“I am volunteering for VDOS because if there is one thing my service has taught me, it’s to always have a fellow soldier’s back,” Levgoren said. “I wish I could do more, and just helping out this little bit makes me feel like I am helping to look out for my fellow veterans.”
“I think that due to me being a veteran and going through the service, I can understand at a deeper level the issues and challenges that veterans face every day, and because I am in a position to help, it is my obligation to help,” Levgoren said.
Brandon Figueroa, an associate test analyst also working with Blizzard who served as a Wheeled Vehicle Mechanic in the US Army, empathizes with the struggles of families who endure the military lifestyle, especially after doing tours overseas. For his contribution, he put together a create-a-bear kit with his daughter.
“I volunteered with VDOS because during my time overseas,” Figueroa said. “I saw this as a great opportunity to give military personnel and their families a small token of our appreciation.”
Across all of Activision Blizzard’s studios and offices, volunteers assembled their kits, often with loved ones to make it a family affair. While the kits might seem small in comparison to previous efforts, people were nonetheless eager to contribute in order to brighten the day of a veteran who has served our country.
“I work with a lot of military consultants as well as have a few relatives and friends that are veterans,” said Matt Wellman, a Senior Producer at Infinity Ward who made stocking stuffers with his kids. “It’s a good feeling that we can give back, even as little as this is to help someone who has sacrificed so much for us.”
The Call of Duty Endowment
The Veterans Day of Service was in part inspired by the work of the Call of Duty Endowment, an organization founded with the goal of helping veterans find high-quality jobs. If you’d like more information on the Endowment and the work they are doing to support veterans, visit the Call of Duty Endowment page.
“I am so proud of how our company has maintained its commitment to veterans in these incredibly difficult times,” Goldenberg said. “Watching our colleagues work on these projects on the Slack channel—many with their partners, children and even pets has been a continuous source of joy.”
About the Call of Duty Endowment: The Call of Duty Endowment is a non-profit organization co-founded by Bobby Kotick, CEO of Activision Blizzard. The Endowment seeks to help veterans find high-quality careers by supporting groups that prepare them for the job market and by raising awareness of the value vets bring to the workplace. For more information about the Call of Duty Endowment, please visit www.callofdutyendowment.org.