Blacksburg Millennials Share Tech-Savvy Talents With Non-Profit Community

Colin Lord

Saturday was a mild, early spring day in Blacksburg but inside, hunched over computer screens, a 12-hour giving-back-to-the-community design and development marathon was unfolding as more than 50 tech-savvy millennials donated their day to team up and pool their creative abilities.

The result when it ended was newly designed and updated public relations resources for 18 non-profit organizations, tools to utilize and help them promote their groups.

Welcome to the third annual “Make a Mark,” an event that brings together a wide-ranging pool of talented professionals from within the local technology community in the shadow of Virginia Tech University, known for turning out countless computer gurus. Reporter Paris Holmes at wrote:

54 different local web developers, illustrators, videographers, and other creatives  divided up into teams to make new websites, mobile applications, logos and other marketing materials for 18 different local non-profits.

This group of millennials, all too willing to help the world around them by sharing their biggest assets of time and talent, shows the generous side of an often-maligned generation.

One of the volunteers was our daughter’s husband, who along with six co-workers from their digital consultancy company, was part of the overall team of 54 who started their day at 8:00 that morning:

Sarah Obenauer [director of the “Mark A Mark” design and development marathon] says “Make a Mark” bridges the gap between non-profits who don’t have resources for marketing with creative and technical professionals like Colin Lord and Steph Loughran who want to give back to their communities.

“When you’re working for a non-profit in a day. You just got home feeling good about yourself and I’m losing a day of my weekend but it’s for a really good cause and they’ll use the site that we built for a couple of years,” said Colin Lord, a front-end web developer.

As he pored over a computer all Saturday, Colin worked with the “Make a Mark” team in what is yet another way that he gives back to the Blacksburg community where he lives and works. Once a week he offers free development help. Recently he went along for a ride on the overnight shift with the Blacksburg Rescue Squad — on a Thursday night, no less, resulting in less than two hours of sleep before heading to work the next morning, and he has done the same with the local fire department.

It is Colin’s dedication to regularly donate blood platelets that is very impressive:

Every other Wednesday morning, I wake up at 5:30am to go donate platelets before work. Craig Sager’s fight with cancer is why I started. Tomorrow is my first time going to donate since he died last week.

From Sports Illustrated two years ago: “Sager went to his hospital back home in Atlanta on Monday for “a bag of platelets and a blood transfusion, and it kind of pumped me up, got me going, sort of like having an old car,” he said. Then he flew clear out to Oakland on Tuesday, then he flew post-game on a red-eye to San Antonio for a Spurs game on Thursday night, the Final Four and another turn of platelets-and-transfusion back in Atlanta.”

Donating platelets isn’t like donating blood. It’s so boring, it takes 2 hours, and you can’t move an inch. But if a dude with leukemia can juggle platelets and blood transfusions with Gregg Popovich and then the Final Four, the least I can do is give people like him the juice to keep fighting.

I’ve obviously never met Craig Sager and the only things we have in common are we both hail from Atlanta and we both like sports. Hearing he died seriously bummed me out. But his death doesn’t mean my alarm isn’t still going off early tomorrow.”

Giving back by involvement in the community, donating blood platelets, sharing tech talents by helping the organizations that help thousands … not a bad day’s work, and a trend that has steadily grown in this age group. In fact, a study of millennials showed 75 percent donated to charity, and 63 percent reported volunteering.

For a generation that has often been painted as selfish, lazy, demanding, and impatient, Saturday’s 54 techie-talented young people burst that misconception bubble as they spent their Saturday “making a mark” in Blacksburg.

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