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GameStop manager shares how to give back during a pandemic

As coronavirus (also known as COVID-19) touches all of our lives in devastating ways, communities have been coming together to support one another and keep hope alive. Some of this solidarity has surfaced in the most unexpected ways.

Ally De Torres, a Store Leader at a GameStop in the Bay Area, serves as a perfect example. Prior to the pandemic, Ally pushed her store to be the top fundraiser in GameStop’s CMN Hospitals point-of-sale campaign. This involved getting other GameStop employees to visit tours at UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital. The lessons those on the tour learned became invaluable motivation to succeed for the kids. Ally described the experience saying:

When I was invited to take a tour of our local Children’s Miracle Network Hospital, UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital in Oakland, I wasn’t quite emotionally prepared for what I would experience. 

I learned how important keeping a sense of normalcy is for children going through their treatments and medical procedures. From maintaining their schooling to having fun arts and crafts classes, musical therapy, and a teen lounge for the older children to engage and play. Everything is made continuously available to families through philanthropic donations, and hearing this inspired me to want to push to do more.

Group photo in GameStop during our fundraising campaign in the fall of 2019

Those connections with the hospital came in handy when the pandemic hit. Jackie Curran, a member of UCSF Benioff’s foundation team, reached out in desperation to Ally for help. The hospital staff had found it difficult to procure the supplies necessary to equip their facilities for tele-health. Ally worked quickly with GameStop corporate to coordinate supply deliveries to the hospital. UCSF Benioff wound up receiving 80 gaming headsets delivered as speedily as possible.

Since Ally has experience bringing unexpected connections together to meet an unforeseen need, we reached out to her to see what advice she has for the wider CMNH community.  Here is what she had to say:

Jack Gardner: The coronavirus pandemic presents a unique threat that none of us have ever dealt with before. You were able to step up to have GameStop fill the need at UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital for equipment to make their rapid switch to tele-health possible; what can others do to emulate your example in their own workplaces?

Ally De Torres: I am fortunate to know some wonderful people at GameStop that have worked tirelessly to promote giving back throughout the years. I knew that if anyone could help, they could. I would encourage everyone to reach out to their leadership teams to ask what we could do to help or how we could help at a local or national level. Talk with your colleagues and peers and express an urgent need to help local hospitals and healthcare facilities. Use this opportunity to start a trend within the workplace that encourages giving back to the community.

JG: What are some ways that individuals can mobilize the communities they are involved with to help address the different problems appearing during this crisis?

ADT: Being aware of the community needs is the first step to finding available solutions. Social media is the best outlet to use to reach out to others within our communities to seek help and support.

JG: Do you have any advice for people who can’t work right now and are practicing good social distancing techniques? What can people in those situations do to involve their connections in the collective fight against COVID-19?

ADT: Simply said, if you have the means to help, do it. Involve your children in the process if you can, so they can see how their help can positively impact their community. So many wonderful friends and family have learned to sew during the shelter in place. They are now producing masks for healthcare workers, which is needed right now.

If you have any friends or family that want to help, but don’t know where to start, reach out to them. Encourage positive behavior during this trying time. And be kind to each other. We are all in this together. We can heal as a community if we work together as one.

Don’t forget to sign up for Extra Life to help sick and injured kids in hospitals around the US and Canada by playing games!