Company

Waukegan company delivers joy - Expands programs to get toys to kids

Expands programs to get toys to kids

By Cheryl V. Jackson
November 24, 2010

The name of Impact Networking is appropriate for the company around Pickard Elementary School these days.

The company, a Waukegan-based printer and copier sales and document-management firm, is making an impact on students at the Pilsen neighborhood school this holiday season.

In a unique expansion of its participation with the Chicago Sun-Times' annual Season of Sharing letters to Santa program, the company has all-out adopted the school, providing gifts to each student in Pickard's head start- through fourth-grade classes.

Through year-round initiatives, including voluntary employee payroll deduction, Impact exceeded its goal of collecting $10,000 and is purchasing more than 900 toys, allowing most of the 432 participating students to receive two or three gifts this year.

The company had been working with the letters program since 2008.

But after last year's turn when a team of employees accompanied Santa to the school and saw about 50 students leave without gifts, company leadership committed to providing gifts to all participants in 2010, said Kristen Shepherd, the point person for the project at Impact. "We decided to come up with a more formalized system" she said. "We believed that would allow employees to not only participate, but contribute more than maybe they would have at the end of the year."

About 75 percent of firm's 120 employees participated -- some financially, others via sweat equity. "Our employees have not only been extremely generous through donations; but many have been so generous with their time, as well," Shepherd said.

Workers ordered from Walmart.com and had shipments made to the company warehouse or local stores for pickup. The company is still buying the gifts, and plans a wrapping party next week.

Pickard sits in an economically challenged neighborhood. Many of the students asked for coats, gloves and shoes in their Santa letters.

Each child will get at least one of his or her requested items -- plus a toy, Shepherd said. Popular diversions requested include books from the "Diary of a Wimpy Kid" series and "Toy Story" toys.


Chicago Suntimes