Supporting worthy causes is at the heart of what we do here at Merkle RMG, and that’s one reason I love working here. That passion drives how we serve our nonprofit clients, but it extends to other aspects of our company as well. That’s what led me to introduce Merkle RMG to the Salvation Army’s Angel Tree program.
I’ve been supporting Angel Tree for over a decade. The program provides new clothes and toys to children from less fortunate families, giving them a special Christmas experience they wouldn’t have otherwise. Families apply through the Salvation Army’s social services and provide details like the child’s age, clothing sizes, special needs, and wishes for gifts. This information is transferred to a paper “angel” for each child. These tickets are displayed on Christmas trees usually in shopping malls, where passers-by can select them and then purchase and donate the items listed on the ticket. Giving is anonymous, and it’s a simple way to make a real difference in the lives of children in the local community.
Bringing Angel Tree to Merkle
There’s very strong employee engagement at Merkle RMG, so I thought having our own Angel Tree would be a great way to increase the program’s local impact. This is the company’s sixth year supporting the cause, with an Angel Tree prominently displayed in the media center at our facility in Hagerstown. Employees may choose one or more angels, or may give monetary donations if they prefer. Participants then tag their unwrapped gifts and place them under the Angel Tree to be donated. If certain items aren’t gifted by the deadline, employee volunteers purchase the remaining gifts using the monetary donations and an additional contribution from Merkle RMG.
Lots of Ways to Engage
I promote the program via email and on Merkle RMG’s Facebook page, but word of mouth plays the biggest role in spreading awareness. Employees look forward to it every year, and proactively ask when Angel Tree will start so they can select their angel. Because the Angel Tree is displayed in a high-traffic area near the break room, it’s often the topic of conversation and employees share ideas and buying tips with each other. Some may choose to pool their money to purchase a big-ticket item like a tablet or a bike. Others might opt to give a small gift that fits their budget. Merkle RMG President Bill Sayre and his wife make it a tradition to choose a boy and a girl every year, with Bill buying for the boy and his wife buying for the girl. There are no restrictions or assignments, so everyone is free to support the cause in their own way
Because of the strong employee response, we’ve been able to provide an average of 1 – 2 gifts per child for 120 children each year. That’s 120 children who would not have had any gifts to open on Christmas morning if not for our employees’ support. At the same time, it really lifts the spirits of employees to be able to help people in the local community. Our involvement has received warm recognition from the Salvation Army over the years, including presenting our company with a certificate of appreciation at a dinner they hosted.
A High-Touch Approach to Giving
I work in our Exception Services department, so I understand the importance of a personal touch. That’s why I like the Angel Tree program – because it aims to serve children in an individualized way. It allows kids to receive gifts that are meant especially for them, while giving donors a more personal connection to the child they’re helping.
We’re looking forward to another successful Angel Tree mission for the 2016 holiday season! Does your organization have a unique way of giving back to the community during the holidays? Leave a comment and share your experience!