Each December, as a part of its Community Service Program, Relyco gives gifts to local children whose families need some help during the holidays. The holiday gift project originated in 2003 when Mike Steinberg, Relyco Owner & CEO, wanted to get involved with helping local kids. Joni van Gelder, Relyco sales person, took the lead and got the gift project rolling at Relyco. That first year, Relyco provided gifts for fourteen kids and the program grew from there with the Steinberg family’s support. This year, Relyco provided gifts for 103 kids from 41 families. Over the last fourteen years, Relyco has donated gifts for 497 children.
Relyco has a payroll deduction system that employees can choose to opt into. The funds from that system are matched by Relyco each year and the total goes on to fund all projects in Relyco’s Community Service Program. The Relyco Community Service Team, which is comprised of five Relyco employees, organizes the program; they allocate the funds to different initiatives throughout the year. The holiday gift project budget is broken down per child so that each kid will receive several gifts.
The Community Service Team partners with the Dover School system, where the school nurses identify the children who might benefit from the program and secure permission from each child’s family for Relyco employees to contact them. When Relyco employees reach out to the families, they gather information about the name, age and grade of each child. Additionally, they have conversations about what the child might want for Christmas in order to find out about any specific needs or desires. Early in December, teams of Relyco employees go on group shopping trips after work to purchase the gifts.
On the morning of December 16, 2016, Relyco held its annual wrapping party. Wrapping stations are spread throughout Relyco’s offices and all employees participate in wrapping the gifts for the kids. This year, employees were joined by five staffers from the Wentworth Douglass Finance Department and Claudia Lynch, who was Woodman Park’s school nurse for many years.
Joni van Gelder, the original organizer and current member of the Community Service Team, is still heading up the project each year. According to van Gelder, some families are in very tough financial circumstances and others just need a little bit of extra help during the holiday season. There is a whole range of need and every family is different. But van Gelder points out that over the years, one thing has been consistent, “working with these families has always been an absolute pleasure.”
Any local business that is interested in developing this kind of program for their own business is welcome to contact Mike Steinberg at firstname.lastname@example.org to learn more.