SQL Server folks are by nature a generous bunch: We share our knowledge reflexively, documenting the tips and strategies that help out our fellow pros in webinars, blogs and at both global and local events. If you have ever found the solution to a vexing problem by watching a SQL Server guru’s detailed breakdown of a database fragmentation challenge, then you’ve been a been a beneficiary of our community’s giving spirit.

And we don’t reserve that generosity just for fellow techies, as evidenced by the Give Camps that are held in cities across the nation. Give Camp, as you may know, brings together technology pros for intensive weekend sessions that provide solutions for under-resourced charities and non-profits. Recipient organizations submit their “wish lists” and are screened in advance to gauge project requirements, then everybody gets together for a weekend, rolls up their sleeves, and build finished solutions by the event’s conclusion.

If you haven’t participated in one, there are two great reasons to do it: 1. You’ll help people. 2. You’ll get to learn and improve in a uniquely and intensely cooperative environment that you might not get to experience otherwise. Okay, there’s a third. It’s exhilarating.

That’s what drew Gabe Villa, a Colorado-based SQL Server developer, to become an organizer of Give Camp in his state for the past three years. The most recent event saw 20 volunteers serve five charities that wouldn’t have otherwise found the infrastructure, budget or talent to meet their needs.  “There’s a lot of emotion,” said Villa. “We started on Friday night with no solutions, worked the entire weekend, and were able to demo the solutions by lunchtime Sunday. Seeing the amazement in their eyes was an overwhelming feeling.”

One team put together a donor management solution for a community theater in Northern Colorado, as their old service had started to charge them and they could no longer afford it. Another executed a database system for valuation forms for a charity that mentors middle school-aged girls. Deserving organizations got a leg up and technology that helps them fulfill their missions. SQL Server DBAs and developers alike got the tremendous rush of seeing how their time and talent can make a difference.  They also get the learning and skills boost equivalent to a mini-conference, as well as a way to work fluidly and creatively—something that you might not normally get the opportunity to do every day.

“There are no bosses, no management,” Villa adds. “You get re-involved with the fun of manipulating technology. Teams come together organically to solve problems, and in the process, you walk out with techniques and perspectives you didn’t have when you walked in.”

From SQL Saturdays to Give Camp, chances are there is somebody out there who needs your knowledge. This Thanksgiving is a great time to reflect on how we can share it—and be amazed at what we get back when we do. Let us know what you are thankful for this holiday season #Thankful4SQL