Charitable giving provides the lifeblood that allows countless organizations to continue to carry out their work, and Pratt & Whitney's Columbus Engine Center in Georgia certainly went above and beyond this past December as they jumped into several projects that made the holidays brighter for a number of people.
Angel Tree Program
For the past eight years, the Columbus Engine Center has been involved in the Angel Tree project, which is a program run through the Salvation Army.
"The Salvation Army gathers information regarding the needy families in our area. 'Angel Tags' are then filled out for each child listing their age, clothing and shoe sizes and also a toy wish list," explained Peggy Murphy, executive assistant at Pratt & Whitney. "We select however many tags that we want to handle. This year, it was 65."
Columbus Engine Center employees select a tag from a Christmas tree within the plant and purchase all, or nearly all, the items on the child's wish list.
"If there are any tags left on the tree, then these [gifts] are purchased from the fund that our general manager, Tom Bode, has set aside. This year, it was seven children," Murphy noted.
The endeavor, which was led by Orlisa Woods, also required the help of a number of Pratt & Whitney volunteers who helped deliver the items to the Salvation Army Distribution Center for sorting and then presented the unwrapped gifts to the parents to give to their children in their own way, said Murphy.
The group effort was a success, with a number of generous individuals ensuring that others in difficult circumstances had a joyous holiday.
Children's Advocacy Center
Another recipient of the Columbus Engine Center's benevolence this past December was the Children's Advocacy Center. Murphy said she, along with other employees from the Women's Forum, became interested in the Children's Advocacy Center after a visit from the United Way during last year's Leadership Giving Drive. Murphy said they were so impressed by Executive Director Lynn Hammock that they asked to take a tour of their center for children.
"While there, Lynn and her staff sat down and discussed what they do at the center and that all their services are free to those who come to the center," said Murphy. "Once we heard what all happens there and how they even go out into the community and the schools to educate, we all knew we wanted to see what we could do to help."
A Children's Christmas with Santa was one of the events the Women's Forum decided to organize beginning in 2012.
"Each child and their siblings were given a gift that had their name on it ... I made stockings for each child, and we filled them with all kinds of goodies - candy, hygiene items and little toy trinkets," said Murphy.
A visit with Santa, photos and refreshments were all part of the festivities.
"Both years, we had at least one child that was so mesmerized by Santa that it warmed our hearts and brought tears to the eyes of all who were there," added Murphy.
The Women's Forum is looking forward to the second event they help arrange for the Children's Advocacy Center - the Daddy Daughter Dance. The dance is the biggest fundraiser for the center, and with Pratt & Whitney as a partner sponsor, Murphy and the group, as well as a number of Pratt & Whitney dads, are looking forward to this year's dance.
The third project of the Columbus Engine Center this past December was Bingo held at Muscogee Manor.
"We have been involved in the project for three years," said Murphy. "It started by our team selecting a nursing home that we could go to, and Muscogee Manor was a great fit."
Led by Victor Morales, eight employees volunteered their time to the project, helping residents with their Bingo cards, and other aspects of the game, and distributing their winnings.
"The prizes this year were healthy snacks and stockings filled with candy and other goodies," said Murphy, noting that diabetic items were also available for those who required them.
The Partners in Education middle school chorus was also on hand that day to sing Christmas songs for the group.
With 430 people working at the Columbus Engine Center, plus hundreds more at Georgia Forging Business and Precision Components International (totaling approximately 1,000), there is no shortage of willing hands to participate in the charitable giving.
"We ask that our employees try to be involved in at least two events each year ... strictly volunteer," said Murphy.
She added, "We normally try to do at least one event a month, but some are small."
From something as simple as doing yard work or home maintenance for a veteran through House of Heroes, to organizing much bigger affairs, such as a two-day airshow and the annual United Way golf outing, the employees of the Columbus Engine Center continue to exemplify the meaning of corporate social responsibility.