CEOs celebrate holidays by giving to those in need

Holiday shopping
The holidays can bring out the best in CEOs. (Image: RTW / Response Magazine)

Being a CEO is more than a full-time job, but around this time of year a number of them take even more extra time to make the holidays happier for those in need.

Their efforts range from adopting a family to helping abandoned children. Each, in their own way, is making a difference and going from being buttoned down to opening up.

Manu Mathew, CEO of Visual IQ, is in the midst of fundraising for charity Agape, which helps Indian orphans get to college. “It’s great,” Mathew said. “I wish there was more time during the day to do it.”

Visual IQ staff are also busy working with The Women’s Lunch Place, which provides a safe daytime shelter, nutritious food, healthcare and education to over 225 women each day. Most of these women have experienced trauma, abuse, and loss. Visual IQ staff, at this time of year, makes fleece scarves and Happy New Year cards for those staying at the Women’s Lunch Place.

“Every year we adopt a family for the holidays,” said Jeff Pedowitz, CEO of The Pedowitz Group. “This year we adopted a family with five boys. We go out finding items on their ‘wish list,’ along with getting them essentials for their home.”

In addition, “We make a variety of charitable donations,” Pedowitz said. “The value to us is in seeing the smiles and the joy in the people and institutions we give to. That is more than reward enough.”

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Genesys, which provides omnichannel customer experience and contact center solutions, is working with residential shelter Raphael House. Genesys turns on its annual “North Pole Hotline,” which offers children the chance to let Santa know their wish list for Christmas. Santa shares the list with Genesys volunteers who coordinate with Raphael House to shop for gifts and leave wrapped presents under the Christmas tree at the shelter.

In addition, children can track North Pole news and weather reports, learn where they stand on Santa’s “naughty or nice” list, and check the location and estimated arrival time of his sleigh.

At the Servant Leadership Institute, employees including CEO Art Barter are busy packing hygiene kits for homeless men in a local program. The company also adopts a struggling family each year, and employees donate gifts and gifts cards to help it through the holiday season.

“No matter what you spend, just make sure the gift or special event comes from the heart,” Barter said.

Employees get in on the giving

This year, MyCorporation is participating in the 2017 Sponsor-A-Family Project held by the Los Angeles Unified School District. “We are sponsoring a family in need with gifts for the children and parents and making it a team effort with all our employees participating,” said CEO Deborah Sweeney. “Everyone is excited to give and we’re planning to break into groups to ensure that everything is purchased for the family.”

Nations Photo Lab (NPL) has teamed up with A Million Thanks, a nonprofit organization dedicated to supporting and appreciating active and veteran U.S. military members, to spread joy through a holiday campaign. Every NPL card pack includes an extra card. People write their wish on the card and send it to A Million Thanks, and their team will collect and distribute each card to bases and hospitals around the world.

Alex Dastmalchi, CEO of the Dastmalchi Company, is giving this year to Corazón de Vida, a charity dedicated to helping the over 6,000 abandoned children living in the Northern Baja areas of Mexico. Since Mexico does not have the social programs to help care for these children, such as foster care or a welfare system, they are left to the care of underfunded orphanages. For over 20 years, Corazón de Vida has provided financial support to help care for the children by funding orphanages, providing quality-of-life improvement services, and funding their higher education.

“CEOs are leaders in their business and field. When they make the commitment to give to charity, they are setting an example that others should follow,” Dastmalchi said. ”When people see them giving, they are more likely to want to follow suit. This is a great example of being the change you want to see.”

Also, “When a CEO helps a charity, the employees get a morale boost because they appreciate what their employer is doing to help others,” Dastmalchi said. “Their employees are more likely to feel a connection and appreciation for their company because of the act of giving back.”