The holidays always bring out the best in people and it's also a time companies get in on the giving.

ATLANTA - The holidays always bring out the best in people and it's also a time companies get in on the giving.

One local company has gone above and beyond to make children without families a part of their own.

December is the month when things at work wind down. And to match the casual mood of the office, employees at local company wanted to dress down.

But instead of kicking back, these employees stepped up to put smiles on some very grateful faces.

This annual holiday party for area foster kids began nearly 15 years ago when a group of employees made a special request of their boss.

"I got this email that some associates wanted to have a dress down December and would we support them in allowing them to wear blue jeans which back then wasn't in vogue as it is now. And then would we support a match so they could go and give to charity," said Rick Jackson, CEO of Jackson Healthcare, LLC.

So in exchange for wearing jeans at Jackson Healthcare for the month of December, the employees donated $30 each. The company matched the total raised and employees took the money and bought presents for area orphans. Jeanne Sheahan has been a foster mother for three years and she says the kids look forward to this every year.

"It's a good reminder that people care about them. Because some of them have a lot of baggage and [this time of year] can be hard. This just gives them an opportunity to be around others," said foster parent Jeanne Sheahan.

This year, the employees raised $13,000. The company matched that total and were able to buy presents for 150 kids.

"We don't just go out and give them a teddy bear or something like that. They're probably given $200-$300 a piece of things they're specifically asking for," said Jackson.

"The excitement of it is you never know what you get until after you open it. It's exciting," said foster child Audry Mitchell.

To this day, the program is still completely driven by the employees. The kids still receive their gifts at the annual holiday party. And nearly 15 years later, a seemingly insignificant request to dress down is still making a lifelong impact.

"If you are recharging a person to start a new life and it's as easy as just giving them a gift that says 'I'm valuable', you've changed their life," said Sheahan.

In addition to buying the toys for the children, the employees of Jackson Healthcare also donate to the Alpharetta Police Department food drive for needy families.

 
 
 
 

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