Pelco Makes Giving Toys for Tots a Holiday Tradition

CLOVIS, Calif.

It started with two employees and a couple of toys in 1991, and has grown into a tradition at Pelco that lives up to the holiday spirit of giving.

When Toys for Tots talks about companies that are among its most generous givers, the conversation usually turns to Pelco, which for every year of this decade has been driven by its employees to donate over 100,000 toys to children for the holidays.

Toys for Tots, run by the Marine Corps Reserves, collects toys during the three months leading up to Dec. 25 and distribute those toys as Christmas gifts to needy children.

Skeptics might look at the donation as nothing more than a company trying to get more publicity. But Gloria Green, Pelco director of human resource, says that sometimes, people really do give just to give. “There are a lot of wet eyes … because you realize a hundred thousand kids will be getting your gifts,” Green says.

Like Toys for Tots itself, which was started by one Marine reservist in 1947, the effort at Pelco started small. Employees Mary Erisman and Vickie Garcia started involving fellow employees in gathering toys for Toys for Tots. They averaged about 800 donated toys per year, then 3,000 by 1996.

The effort grew into a companywide effort when management decided it would match the donations made each year by its employees. The number of donations grew to a little over 11,000 in 1997, 73,768 in 1999 before breaking the 100,000 barrier in 2000.

Last year, Pelco donated 108,840 toys to Toys for Tots and the drive in the company is now much more than two employees trying to get their co-workers involved. Pelco now holds fund-raisers to raise funds and Pelco representatives solicit donations at the same time they are trying to solicit sales. When the donation drive ends, a parade is held on the streets outside Pelco’s Clovis, Calif. Headquarters to celebrate the day the toys are turned over to the Marines. This year’s parade takes place on Dec. 11.

The Pelco employees never get to actually see the Marines donate the toys to disadvantaged children, but Green says that doesn’t matter. “We know they’re going to smile and be happy,” she says. “There can’t be anything greater than that.”

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