Throughout the month of December, Ayco associates once again led community events to give back to children and families in need.
More than 150 Ayco associates volunteered at holiday events around the country. Many of the events were funded through Ayco Gives for Kids, an employee giving program with corporate matching funds. In total, Ayco associates purchased over 1,500 gifts for families in need and organized thousands more.
In lieu of printed holiday cards, Ayco also provided a charitable grant for financial literacy programming nationwide.
“Some of the families we serve tell me they look forward to our events all year round,” said Marcia Cognetta, Vice President of Ayco’s Office of Corporate Engagement. “As the year comes to a close, everyone gets busy. It is really special that so many of our people take time out of their schedule to serve families in the communities where we work and live. Our volunteers love giving back during the holiday season and it is truly a wonderful way to end the year together.”
Ayco associates in Parsippany, New Jersey recently completed their third annual event supporting Family Intervention Services, a non-profit organization that supports New Jersey families in need. With the goal of feeding 100 families this holiday season, more than 50 Ayco volunteers purchased non-perishable items from a checklist and then gathered together to pack the items while enjoying holiday music and fun games. Volunteers included a personal note to each family attached to a candy cane.
In Albany, New York, Ayco associates hosted a “holiday store” for 175 outpatient children and their families at the Albany Medical Center Children’s Hospital. Children had the chance to “shop” for gifts for every member of their household at no cost. Ayco volunteers then wrapped the gifts and hung holiday decorations in the Department of Pediatrics as families enjoyed making crafts. A selection of gifts worth more than $10,000 was handed out.
Through Ayco’s giving program, associates also planned and hosted a holiday party for the Ronald McDonald House Charities of the Capital Region, Inc. House director Debbie Ross said the event gave ill children “the chance to take a fun break from treatment and hospitals.”
For the third year in a row, the event was held at the New York State Museum. Families enjoyed a night of holiday festivities including a special visit from Santa Claus. Parents selected gifts purchased by Ayco volunteers from a secret “North Pole” room and children received the gifts from Santa later in the night.
“One interaction I had a few years ago at this event keeps me coming back,” said Timothy Macherone, an associate in Ayco’s Family Office who volunteered in the “North Pole” room. “A woman with six children picked out gifts and at the end asked me how much she owed. When I told her it was all free, she broke down crying with gratitude. We all get wrapped up in our own challenges, but when you see people who have to go through the worst with their children and they are so positive, happy and appreciative, it puts things in perspective.”
This year, Ayco associates adopted 28 children at the Franklin Community Center in Saratoga Springs, New York. Through Ayco’s giving program, volunteers purchased at least one gift for the children in each of four categories: something they want, something they need, something to wear and something to read. Volunteers also helped staff at the Franklin Community Center sort and distribute other holiday gifts donated for families in need.
Volunteers in Ayco’s Deerfield, Illinois office also helped ensure local children in need would have a gift to open during the holidays. More than 25 Ayco associates helped organize the thousands of gifts donated to Catholic Charities of Lake County. Ayco volunteers collected personalized gift bags from the gift warehouse and delivered them directly to each family as they arrived for pickup. Associates also stocked the “store” of extra gifts, “shopped” for additional families in need that arrived at the facility that day and handed out gift bags directly to those families.