About 400 Googlers gathered at Stevenson Elementary School on June 16 to help clean classrooms and paint walls as part of the fourth annual GoogleServe, a worldwide community service program organized each summer by the Mountain View-based online search company.
The Stevenson crew set a record this year, according to Cady Kollen, an administrative assistant at Google and the project leader for the Stevenson site.
"This is the biggest GoogleServe project ever organized," she said, surveying the work of her colleagues — many of whom wore black-and-neon-colored, "Google"-emblazoned sunglasses and black "GoogleServe" shirts as they worked paint rollers, vacuumed, scrubbed desktops and wiped windows clean.
It was also the biggest year for GoogleServe on the whole, according to Katelin Todhunter-Gerberg, a spokeswoman for Google. Though a final headcount was not available at press time, Todhunter-Gerberg said more than 6,000 employees from 60 offices around the world participated in more than 400 projects. She said there were 11 GoogleServe projects in Mountain View.
Those who participated in the 2011 GoogleServe worked at schools, homeless shelters, elder-care facilities and community parks among others, she said.
With as many hands as the Stevenson project had, the entire project, which started at about 10 a.m., was finished by the mid-afternoon.
Boom boxes blared music, while the employees, many of whom were meeting for the first time, fraternized over their work.
The socializing that occurs at GoogleServe projects is just one of many supplementary benefits to service projects, Kollen said, adding that she had met many of her fellow Googlers for the first time on the day of the Stevenson cleanup.
"It's an amazing team-building exercise," said Francoise Brougher, vice president of business operations at Google, who spent part of her day crouching down, painting the base of a doorframe. "You get to team up with people you are not working with every day, you're having fun and you're working toward a common goal and you have a very short time frame. I think that's very inspiring for people."
"It's a way to give back to the community and I think it's a nice thing to do," Brougher said.