AOL participates in operation Christmas Child.
Christmas came early this year at Australian Outdoor Living head office in Adelaide, when staff got together to participate in Operation Christmas Child.
Run by non-profit organisation Samaritan’s Purse, Operation Christmas Child aims to make the holiday season special for children in developing countries.
AOL purchased shoeboxes for staff to fill with gifts, which they later returned to Samaritan’s Purse.
The company then sent them overseas to countries such as Madagascar, the Dominican Republic and Cambodia, where children were able to open their boxes and enjoy their gifts.
Gifts included stationery items such as colouring books, crayons, pens and pencils, as well as essential items like toothpaste, toothbrushes and soap.
Digital Marketing Manager Paul Leong spearheaded the initiative, saying he was inspired by his colleagues’ giving natures.
“I have observed that Australian Outdoor Living actively supports quite a few charities, and felt that there is a strong culture of giving – not just at the corporate level, but even with individuals on the team,” Mr Leong said.
“I shared the program with our National Marketing Manager Alex McConville, who jumped right to it and drove the program from start to finish.”
Mr McConville said participating in the program was a good opportunity to reflect upon the true meaning of Christmas.
“It allowed myself and other staff members to think about children and people in other countries who are less fortunate than ourselves,” Mr McConville said.
“It gave us the opportunity to give a little and spread some joy at Christmas.”
AOL staff filled 38 boxes in total, which was more than they had initially planned on filling.
Mr Leong said he believed the team had outdone themselves.
“It was as if each of us were filling our boxes for someone special – someone that we knew,” he said.
“It’s humbling to see the way passion and social responsibility plays out in a company like AOL.”
Australian Outdoor Living’s contribution to Operation Christmas Child followed a string of other charitable donations, the most recent of which was a wheelchair-accessible 17-seater bus to the East Adelaide Education Centre.
The bus, worth a whopping $125,000, ensured the centre would no longer have to rely on taxis to transport differently-abled children.
AOL prides itself on being able provide hope and joy to those less fortunate, something which Mr Leong said is one of the most important things about Christmas.
“Ultimately, it’s just about sharing the joy of Christmas with children who may otherwise not have a Christmas present on Christmas Day,” he said.
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