A Toy for Every Girl and Boy

For many families, the holidays are a time of joy, and of course, presents. But for others, the season can be a reminder of how much they don’t have. In 2017, United Rentals held its first-ever toy drive to put gifts in Santa’s sack — everything from bears and bikes to dolls and dump trucks — for kids who might otherwise have none.

“The initiative came about at the suggestion of two employee resource groups, Women United and Together United,” said Kacie Brewer, a human resources officer at United Rentals and the HR sponsor for Women United. “These groups operate within our larger organization with the common goal of making our company a better place to work.”

Some 48 United Rentals locations in the United States and Canada participated. Many donated through their nearest Toys for Tots, a charity run by the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve. Others worked with another organization that collects toys for needy kids, such as a local fire department or Toys“R”Us.

“I’m really proud of our team for stepping up,” said Bret Lybrand, branch manager in Birmingham, Alabama. “Generosity is what Christmas is all about!”

The branches encouraged customers to make donations, too, by putting out collection boxes.

Many employees who purchased their toys through Amazon went through Amazon Smile, a portal that donates 1 percent of purchases to a charity of the customer’s choosing. Employees chose United Rentals’ Employee Compassion Fund, which provides grants for co-workers going through tough times. In this way, their donations aided their colleagues as well as area kids.

The drive was by all measures a smashing success: More than 2,700 toys were collected in addition to cash. It created some great memories, too. United Rentals’ internal Facebook platform has been abuzz since the event. “People are posting pictures left and right of their donations. One branch bought two bicycles!” said Brewer.

Some employees went a step further, volunteering their time to Toys for Tots. An employee who volunteered at Toys for Tots San Angelo wrote, “All I can say is WOW! I was so moved by the families we are able to serve today.”

The drive was the perfect kickoff to the holiday season and looks to be a tradition in the making. Said Brewer, “I foresee this as being an annual thing from now on.”

 

Writer-editor Deborah Skolnik frequently covers business topics. Her articles have appeared in major publications including The New York Times, The New York Daily News, CNN.com and Forbes.com.