How the Austin tech community is giving back this holiday season

Kelly Jackson

Even during a time filled with time off requests, holiday events and the impending close of Q4, Austin's tech sector has still managed to find time to embrace its philanthropic spirit over the course of the holiday season.

Check out these nine Austin companies that shared with us how their teams are giving back this season to support our community. 

 

Throughout the year, WP Engine's Give Back Committee organizes charitable events for the company to participate in. The past two years in a row, the company has won the Central Texas Food Bank Canville contest — a canned food drive competition that entails building a structure from donated cans. They also host ongoing blood drives at the office and volunteer days. Last month, they raised over $12,000 for men's health during their participation in Movember. 

"One of our core values is 'Aspiring to Lead, Committed to Give Back' and we take this to heart," said John Caldwell, software engineer and co-chair of WP Engine's Give Back Committee. "We believe that participating in community efforts allows us to lead by positive example and make such a valuable impact to those around us. Beyond the direct impact that our community efforts make, we also believe that participating in giving back helps our own employees to become actively engaged in community efforts, and to grow as good citizens and leaders." 

 

For the past seven years, HomeAway has participated in its annual "Homes for the Holidays" Blitz Build initiative. For over three weeks beginning at the end of November, 150 HomeAway employees volunteer to build a home for Austin Habitat.  

Tiffany Lee, HomeAway's talent brand manager, said that most employees will use one of their two charitable giving days during the build, which are given to the team in addition to their vacation and sick time. Volunteers recently finished work on the house, ending with a dedication ceremony to the receiving family.

 

CognitiveScale has built giving back into the core of its culture. The machine intelligence company garnered employee participation by giving time and donations over the holidays through the Coats for Kids drive. In its 30th year running, the Coats for Kids Austin chapter has distributed over 36,000 coats to children in need. 
 
"Generosity is one of our core values and is at the heart of what we do," said Cindy Rondini, director of operations. "We take community building very seriously and our employees participate in different causes close to their hearts. You start with the basic presumption that doing good is good for business. It's acknowledging what it takes to be a good company while reminding people that this is who we are and what we stand for. Our community service is about giving time, not just raising money. You can sit on a website and click to donate $20, but that doesn't necessarily have an impact on somebody else. It's all about giving your time and directly helping someone. During the holiday season, we expand our participation to include employee family and friends because at the end of the day we are all one big family trying to do good work together."
 

 

Aceable follows six hashtags as part of the company's core values, the first being #HelpOthers. While the company participates in office-wide volunteering events throughout the year, for the holiday season the crew rallies to bring smiles to local children in need.
 
"In the spirit of the holiday season, Aceable is pairing with Partnerships for Children to have an in-office toy drive!" said Aceable recruiter Rachel Marcinek. "Their mission is to empower and support abused and neglected children in the care of Child Protective Services. Through this program, we're able to provide personalized gifts for kids in need right here in Austin, based on their likes and interests."
 

 

The Creditcards.com crew adopts five families a year for the local non-profit Foundation Communities that provides affordable homes and free, onsite support services for children, veterans, seniors and individuals with disabilities.
 
"We believe that with the busy world we live in many lose site of the less fortunate, and we like to remind and educate our team that there is great need in our community," said Ashley Hess, HR assistant.
 
 

Four times a year, OnPrem participates in outreach activities to support Austin initiatives. In December, they raised money and items to donate gift baskets to foster families in conjunction with Starry Foster and Adoption Care. The gift baskets help foster families who give their time, their homes and their lives to help children in need of a loving home. 

Katelyn Parker, OnPrem's technical recruiter, said that last month, one OnPrem employee raised $1,834 alone for the Los Angeles Walk/Run to End Epilepsy. And in September, the company raised more than $2,000 to support CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates for Children) services of Central Texas. Team members and their families also participated in the CASA 5K Superhero Fun Run to help achieve that goal.

 

 

Social Solutions provides its employees with eight hours of volunteer time each quarter. On December 1, a group of the Social Solutions team spent the day building bicycles to give to children. The company also participated in a coat drive this month to provide warm jackets for those in need.  
 
“We at Social Solutions believe that employee volunteerism and giving back is a crucial part of our business model as an employer and as a member of the community," said CEO Kristin Nimsger. "Not only is it a big part of our ‘employer brand,’ it is an acknowledgment that giving back matters to our employees, to their well-being, their job satisfaction and to the community in which we live and work. As importantly, we are an organization whose clients are intensely mission-focused. We endeavor to empower them with our leading technology but also to demonstrate with our actions that we are committed to the work they are doing to make the world a better place."
 
 
 
Last Friday, Mood Media partnered with Austin Police Operation Blue Santa, an organization staffed by volunteers from the APD that provides toys and food for Austin families in need. 
 
"Mood Media & Mood Texas chose to donate 100 new bikes to Austin Police Operation Blue Santa because they're a highly respected, local non-profit, and tightly woven into the Austin community," said Steve Richards, CEO and President of Mood Media Corporation. "They also provide support for other local, non-profit organizations throughout the year, and as such they are helping to care for children's needs across all seasons."
 

 

This season, the restaurant management software team at Compeat chose two organizations to serve, including No Kid Hungry and Ronald McDonald House of Central Texas. On Giving Tuesday, Compeat donated to Share Our Strength’s No Kid Hungry campaign, while encouraging their network of employees, customers and partners to contribute, too. On Dec. 9, volunteers spent their day decorating Christmas trees for each room at the Ronald McDonald House and delivering them to families. 

“I am awestruck by what each of these organizations do on a daily basis," said Jeffery Stone, CEO. "It’s an honor to step away from our business and come together as a team to help these organizations with their mission to serve others. We are in the service industry, so it only makes sense that we serve others as often as we can. It is so incredibly rewarding for each of us as individuals but even more rewarding for us as a team.”

 

Photos from participating companies.

Want to get in touch? Let us know with a tip or on Twitter: @BuiltInAustin

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