Every year, the Production Department at Vanguard Direct does more than its share of charity work. From donating to troops to providing care during natural disasters, these Vanguardians never miss an opportunity to help out. A recent favorite has been Operation Santa, a donation drive the department has participated in for the past two years.
Operation Santa was started by the USPS to respond to needy children’s letters to Santa. Each year, “postal elves” sort through the letters looking for those from children who might otherwise not get Christmas presents. Then everyday folks go to the post office, pick up letters, and do their best to make these holiday wishes come true. Each “Secret Santa” then wraps his or her gifts and brings them back to the post office to mail to the letter writer.
Vanguard Production Coordinator Chantelle Santiago picked out the letters this year. “You can see when a kid is writing as opposed to parents. We pick letters based off of need versus want.” This year, the Production Department took letters and distributed them to teams. Each team handled the letter as it saw fit.
For example, the “Barbie” team loves it when a child explicitly says what he or she wants. Senior Production Coordinator Amy Bhagwandin said, “Each member bought something related to send. For us, it’s an easy thing. When kids list what they want, it makes it much easier and we get to get stuff they didn’t expect. It really feels good.” Senior Production Coordinator Theresa Thomas chimed in, “We do set a budget for ourselves. We never stick to it, but we do have one.”
The Production Department hopes to continue this for years to come. Senior Client Services Manager Doreen Doyle said, “It’s nice to have a philanthropic vein––we always want to help others without hesitation,” while Production Coordinator Natacha Arora “hopes it spreads to the other departments––everyone wants to help.” Senior Production Coordinator Cari Frederico sums it up: “This allows us to be grateful for what we have and help the less fortunate.”
Senior Customer Service Representative Sue Pabst recalled meeting a woman “who was doing this for 30 years. They used to deliver it themselves.” Although security measures prevent that today, many, like Senior Production Coordinator Chuck MacGill, “would like to see their faces.” Sue added, “I think you have to do it––it’s easier to write a check, but this is hands-on and establishes a connection. Vanguard Direct is happy to have people who care so much for those in need.” Senior Production Coordinator Velda Gardiner explained, “Need has tripled––we’ve had natural disasters and an increase in unemployment and homelessness.”
And as Sue said, “It brings the warm and fuzzies.”