Vanguard Pai Lung thanks its workers for their charity

Dec. 19, 2012 @ 06:01 PM

Christmas is a time for giving, especially to those who might not live to see another year.

The 91 employees of Vanguard Pai Lung in Monroe collected and donated toys to the Sandbox, a non-profit public charity that supports the families of children diagnosed with cancer or other life-altering illnesses. To thank their workers, Vanguard's owners treated them to lunch and a special thank you from the organization they helped.

"They did a really good thing," Vanguard owner Bill Moody said.

The Sandbox started at Christmastime in 2010. Cofounders Mara Campolungo and Brian Dulin asked a friend of a friend who worked at Levine Children's Hospital how to best help these families. Any way possible was the answer.

Campolungo and Dulin raised $10,000 in less than two weeks to help families pay for toys, food, transportation and anything else to help them through hard times.

"We help wherever social workers need help," Campolungo said.

Those early contributions kept families stay in their apartments another month, buy gas to drive back and forth to work and relieve the burden of endless medical expenses. They also hold an annual prom for young patients who might have only that chance to experience it.

If the worst happens and the child dies, the Charlotte-based Sandbox staff helps families through grief, checking in on them and sending surprise pick-me-ups to remind them someone cares, Campolungo said.

"We like to say we lock arms with the community," Campolungo said.

This year, the Sandbox will help 78 families, or about 500 people, in North and South Carolina have a merry Christmas.

The way the Sandbox joined forces with Vanguard was through friendship. Maddison Maynard is best friends with Abby Wright, the 2012 Sandbox Prom Queen. Abby invited Maddison to the prom held in September, and the two had a blast. Abby's mother, Lisa, and Maddison's parents, Wendy and Greg, began thinking about an event to help the Sandbox reach more families this Christmas.

Greg Maynard works for Vanguard. He approached Moody with the idea of holding a toy drive and sponsoring a Sandbox family. Moody and the Vanguard management team wanted to sponsor a charity this holiday season.

"We're like a family here," Moody said. "That's the way we run our business. I don't know how Greg knew to come to us to ask us to do this, but we're glad he did. We were happy to do it."

Mary Kate Moody, the vice president for international sales for Vanguard, said the employees were generous with their money and time.

"Some of them live paycheck to paycheck and struggle to buy Christmas presents for their own families," Mary Kate said. "But they were amazing. They brought in so many toys. We're very proud of them."

Those toys will go to good homes to brighten the Christmas of parents and siblings of children battling life-threatening illnesses.

"What they did here helps us reach so many more families, more than we would have been able to reach on our own," Campolungo said.