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Impact Networking Brings Christmas Cheer to Pickard Elementary

Impact Networking and Santa visited Pickard Elementary School for Impact’s annual Letters to Santa event last month. Together employees from the 11 Impact Networking branches raised almost $11,000, enabling them to donate gifts to more than 300 children.

“We have been working with Impact on this event for the past 10 years. Each year they come into Pickard and brighten everybody’s day,” said Patrick Rand, Letters for Santa organizer at Pickard Elementary School. “Teachers and staff know how much this program means to the children and how much joy it brings them.”

Impact has been involved with Letters to Santa since 2005, when it was run by the Chicago Sun- Times. Impact originally fulfilled only a portion of the student’s letters. In 2009, after learning that not every child in the school was getting their letter fulfilled, Impact decided to adopt the entire school. Impact’s Charitable Organizations Coordinator, Heidi Cucco, personally buys and wraps each individual gift and makes sure every child receives a gift by purchasing a few extra just in case.

“The entire process of Letters to Santa takes about 2 months to complete. Once I get the letters from the school, I read every single one while trying not to continually cry because of how touching they are,” says Cucco. “After I finish reading the letters, I secure around 300 gifts, then begin the wrapping, tagging and sorting process.”

Employees donate both their paychecks and their time to this program. Many employees sign up for regular payroll deductions throughout the year. Employees also volunteer to dress up as Santa and his elves to hand out the gifts. One of Impact’s Partners, Nate Robinson has been dressing up as Santa for the past nine years. Donations also go toward supplying 52 pizzas and pop so that the entire school can have a pizza party that day.

“I love the children and their reaction when their eyes are filled with excitement. To be able to help others and make a child’s Christmas a little bit better is to be truly blessed,” Cucco said.

After being a part of this event for the past 10 years, thousands of children have received gifts, some of whom might not have otherwise.

“All of us parents want to thank Impact Networking for thinking about our kids for another year,” Erika Vargas, volunteer and parent at Pickard Elementary School. “We are so thankful that you made another year possible for us to see our children’s faces light up with joy and happiness when they see Santa & their gifts. We cannot thank you enough.”