PDI Gives Back

Employees raise more than $23,000 for central Texas children

TEMPLE, Texas -- This year's holiday season will be a bit brighter for more than 170 central Texas children. In a display of true Christmas spirit, PDI's employees raised more than $23,000 to provide gifts and necessities for struggling area families.

Through its nonprofit organization, Christmas for Families (CFF), the Temple, Texas-based software company and its employees have been spreading holiday cheer for decades. CFF is entirely supported by volunteers, donations and a series of year-long fundraising events, including monthly breakfasts, luncheons, raffles and a golf tournament.

"It has been a really good year for giving," said Heather Ettlinger, PDI employee and CFF volunteer.

For Ettlinger, being a volunteer is not simply a civic responsibility. It's personal. "I grew up with parents who tried very hard to make sure we had everything we needed, but it wasn't always easy. I know what it's like to have to decide whether you'll have a Christmas gift or food. For a family that may have just moved out of a shelter or is in difficult health situations, sometimes the gifts we give are all they get at Christmas," she said.

PDI president Greg Gilkerson started the CFF tradition years ago to teach his own children the value to giving back--much like his father did for him as a boy; however, it didn't stop there, and as a great idea often does, it spread.

PDI employees increasingly wanted to participate, which led to the creation of a nonprofit organization. Over the decades, CFF volunteers have purchased, wrapped and delivered hundreds of thousands of dollars in gifts to local children.

"Something magical happens when you deliver those gifts," Gilkerson said. "There's a boomerang effect. When you see the sheer joy on a child's face, you're transformed from benefactor to beneficiary. It has a way of reminding us what we should be doing on a daily basis."

This year's fundraising efforts culminated in a company-wide gift wrapping party. PDI employees distributed the gifts to area families this week.

Temple-based PDI provides software, hardware and professional services to convenience retailers and wholesale petroleum marketers. Worldwide, approximately 330 companies operating more than 28,000 retail locations rely on PDI's systems for retail automation, fuel and warehouse management, business intelligence and financial management.