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Penske Logistics Associates Make Holidays Bright for Ohio Families

A desire to provide school supplies for teachers in need blossomed into many holiday blessings for three Ohio families.


Through its “Help for the Holidays” project, the Penske Logistics Women’s Network Community Committee in Beachwood, Ohio - and many of the location’s 300 associates - gave from the heart and provided much-needed items this Thanksgiving and Christmas.

“The participation has been phenomenal,” said Denise Kajder, manager of technology services for Penske Logistics in Beachwood, and lead for the community committee. “It’s a collaborative environment. It’s just what we do.”

Over the years, the committee has been in search of families to assist, and it was only after providing school supplies to teachers in the Cardinal Local School District in Middlefield, Ohio, that they became aware of families in need.

Each family had their own story of hardship.

One family was dealing with injury after the father was hurt in an accident and could not work. Another family lost their home and had to move to a small apartment, but both working parents earned barely enough to support the family. In the third family, a single mom worked two full-time jobs to make ends meet and could only spend time with her young boys on Sundays.

“A lot of people chose to sponsor the families based on something personal in their life,” Kajder said. “It made it real to everyone here. They were able to identify with one of the families and they were able to make the holidays better.”

The goal was to provide the families with the best Thanksgiving that they could, so the committee put the call out to all the associates. A “placemat” was put on each of the building’s three floors. Tags on the mats indicated the items that were needed.

The collection was so successful that they were able to provide food for the holiday and beyond.

When it came time to deliver the items to the families, it took two large sports utility vehicles to transport it all. Each family received five boxes of food as well as $75 to make any additional purchases.

The Thanksgiving drive was so successful, and the feedback from the associates was so positive, that they decided to assist the same families with Christmas gifts.

At the beginning of December, a “giving tree” was placed on each floor with paper ornaments that included the gift requested and information such as sizes needed. The associates selected the ornament, purchased and wrapped the item and returned it to the tree.

“We were buying winter boots, coats, hats and gloves. We expanded it to include perfume, games and books. We had tons of gift cards. It was quite an experience. We had tons of gifts on all three floors,” Kajder said.

The gifts were delivered on Dec. 17, more than a week before Christmas.

Tom McKenna, senior vice president of engineering and technology for Penske Logistics in Beachwood, applauded the effort of the committee and the associates who donated.

“The Penske Women’s Network here at our Beachwood office has been coordinating a variety of successful holiday community assistance drives for several years,” McKenna said. “The response from our associates was even bigger than before. I commend the Women’s Network volunteer coordinators for their efforts and all of our associates for their incredible generosity.”

Pictured: Penske Women’s Network Community Committee members Mary Pat Lammers, Denise Kajder and Cindy Feuer

By Bernie Mixon